In August 2014, Google ignited spark, when they axed the option of Close Variants. Many were infuriated of not being given the choice to SELECT whether to opt-in or opt-out of close variants. Majority of marketers were dissatisfied with this decision.
— Martins N. (@MartinsNw) August 18, 2014
If you see the positive side of this step, it reduces the burden of thinking through all options to include in your keyword list. However, the downside is that some close variant terms might not be relevant to your business, as a result of which you spend on unwanted traffic. In this post, we discuss the scenario which pose as a problem and how you can mend things.
What are close variants?
Before moving forward, let us take you through what close variants are. Close Variants are any misspellings, similar terms, singular/plural forms of your keyword. For instance if your keyword is red shoes then its close variants can be red sheos (misspelling), red shoe (singular form) or shoe redness (stemmings), acronyms or abbreviations. Earlier marketers were given the option to select whether they want to include or exclude these terms. However the same has been automated since last year. We further explain what is happening in the current scenario. For example, if you offer digital marketing course then this is what is happening when a user enters a close variant (in this case a misspelling) of the keyword you are bidding for:
The picture is clear, you show for all such terms. In this case it is relevant, however, in many other cases the close variant may not be relevant to your bidded term. For instance,
How close variants affect your business?
To some extent, close variants reduce the burden, only and only when, the variants are apt to your business. However, it also opens your ad to search terms for which you might not want to show your ad. For example, if you offer a software for Windows Security then you must have bidded on the keyword Windows Security. What happens instantly is that your ad also shows for the close variant of your keyword, such as Window Security (singular form). This term is totally irrelevant to your business. What do you do in such a case? You simply place that keyword, Window Security, as a negative keyword to avoid any unwanted clicks and spend. With this step you are easily able to control your keywords and better manage them. Is that the only thing you would do?
In addition to adding all unwanted variations of your bidded keyword you must add all the variants of your negative keyword as well. Taking the example of red shoes, if you don’t want to show for the term red sandals and have added the same as a negative keyword then you would not show for search terms with those words in the query. However you would show for all the variants of the keyword. The solution here again is to add all the variants of your negative keyword as negative keywords. To make sure none of your negative terms go unnoticed, you must add close variants as negative keywords too. This step reaffirms your ad from not showing for your irrelevant terms.
Summing up, you have to keep the following things in mind to avoid any Close Variant related problem in your account:
1) Add unwanted close variants of your bidded term as a negative keyword
You can either think of all variants of your keyword or refer your search query report for related keywords which don’t concern your business. So, if your keyword is download and you want to restrict your ads from showing for any other variant, you have to then add terms such as downloading, downloaded, downloads etc. as negative keywords
2) Add variants of negative keywords as negative keywords
For the negative keyword surgery, you have to make sure all variants are included as negative terms as well. Terms such as surgeries, surgical, surgeon etc. must be considered too. Identifying negative keywords for large accounts or multiple client accounts can be tedious if done manually. An automated negative keywords discovery tool can save tons of time and effort for the PPC Manager. Not to mention, this will also save the wasted ad spend on AdWords. Give our negative keywords tool a try.
Note: Now, our Negative Keywords Tool is Free for accounts with ad spend less than $10,000 per month. Save 10-20% of your search ad spend for free.
Also, if you find yourself devoting too much time in figuring out such variant terms you could refer our free keyword variation tool, that simplifies the task of listing down variants of your keyword. So, though the option might have been taken away, marketers can restrict all unwanted close variants by adding them as negative keywords. You might want to read through ‘Don’t Ignore Keyword Variations in Negative Keywords‘ post, to get more insight on close variant.