Posted by & filed under Google Ads Tips.

Close variants have ramped up over the past few years, as a result of significant changes made in match-type behavior. With the spend on Google Ads search ads increasing, it is likely to be shared amongst the close variants. If not checked in and handled with the right strategy it could result in an increase in wasted ad spend.

Google Ads Close Variant Impact Over The Years

The Close Variant influence was noted in the Q2 2020 Google Ads Benchmark Report. According to the findings from that report, close variants accounted for around 40% of the exact match searches. This impact was a result of the changes introduced by Google that reduced the boundaries of the close variants. It has also resulted in advertisers relying heavily on search terms report, given the influx of close variant data.

Since the shift, close variations have had a positive and negative influence on campaign performance. Positive in the sense that the search query pool is expanded, but negative in the sense that advertisers must avoid any poor matches by using negative keywords.

Close Variant Behaviour Of Our PPC Accounts

We decided to go a little further at how close variants performed, by digging into some of our accounts

Quickly, Tinuiti’s Q2, 2021 Google Ads Benchmark Report findings showed that Google Ads spend on search ads grew 42% YoY, clicks grew by a mere 4% and CPC growth shot up by 36% YoY.

In accordance with the report, close variant spend and CPA has also increased for the accounts we checked. Here is how the median data of the accounts we reviewed appeared for the 3 month time-span

close variant media ad spend 3 months

It clearly shows how the close variants have become a part of the campaign performance, with it taking about 21% median advertisers spend and a CPA median at 59%.

Further looking at 6 month and 1 year data we see a similar pattern

close variant media ad spend 1 year and 6 months

We intend to keep a track of its performance henceforth. We will have follow-up posts sharing our observations of our findings.

But first, here are some things you can do to prepare for the rise of close variant queries:

1. Check your search terms report on a regular basis to see if all near variants are relevant to you. Add negative keywords wherever applicable

2. Use Smart Bidding to help reduce this gap between exact match and close variants. Typically automated bidding strategies such as Target CPA or Target ROAS, will give you better results to avoid such swings in CPA.

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