The Unintended Consequences of Google Ad’s Keyword Changes

  • google ads

Suppose you want to go camping.  Not just any camping trip.

But you want to camp in one of the nation’s best, most majestic and beautiful locations:  Yosemite National Park in California. But, let’s also pretend you know nothing about camping, let alone how to camp at Yosemite.  What would you do? 

Well, you’d almost certainly turn to Google.  But, how will Google’s recent changes to search impact your quest for information? 

Google recently announced changes in store for Google Ads. Google’s brain attempts to match words or phrases that people type into the search browser with relevant websites.  But this is pretty complicated since people will search for information online using words and phrases that are as unique to them as their fingerprints.

People, companies and organizations interested in driving traffic to their websites need to understand how to build a site and create a pay-per-click (i.e. Google Ads) campaign in such a way as to get their paid ad served at the top of a search engine listing.  There are any number of different configurations for Google Ads including exact match, broad match, phrase match, etc. Both phrase match and modified broad match keywords are great at acting as a fishing lure attracting the attention of the intended audience. They are not too broad or too narrowly defined as to not attract irrelevant traffic or limit the traffic you want. 

The two keyword match types in question are phrase match and modified broad match. A keyword is a phrase match if it uses quotation marks before and after the keyword, and in order to trigger an ad, the search query must be in the same order as the key word.  Modified broad match keywords use a plus sign in front of each term within the key word, and a search query with any order of those same terms can trigger an ad. 

Let’s quickly pretend we’ve won the business of a rustic campsite within Yosemite National Park to put this in perspective. Looking to fill cabins and lots for tents, they need our help launching a Google Ads campaign. 

Google Ads planners will want to phrase keywords like  “yosemite camping” and modified broad match keywords like +camping +in +yosemite to attract nature-lovers looking to camp at our lovely campsite. People searching things like yosemite camping sites or camping in yosemite 

Both keyword types are eligible to show for close variant queries. With Google’s changes phrase match or modified broad match, online searches with the same intent, or rather, “same-meaning words” will start triggering ads. Google states the following as their decision to do this:

  1. Even if the semantics of a query don’t exactly match your keyword, the user intent may be all the same.
  2. Loosening the definition of exact match enables businesses to connect with a larger pool of relevant prospects.
  3. Nobody has time to find every single keyword that’s relevant to their business.

Our Yosemite campsite is a broader market, and will likely benefit from some of these same intent search queries. However, with clients with very niche markets, we have to ponder if this will help increase CTR and search impression share, or will phrase match keywords and modified broad match keywords begin casting a net that is too wide. Let’s consider for a moment, this example. Gillespie Group client, Thermostat Recycling Corporation, has modified broad keywords with the terms mercury and thermostat. A searches on  “how to change a mercury thermostat” will most likely result TRC’s paid ad being served. However, “mercury” is a pretty common word.  It’s a planet. It’s an element. It’s even the name of a car! The intent of the search may be about changing the thermostat in a Mercury Mountaineer. 

This change may cause an increase in impressions and clicks, but it might be for irrelevant reasons. For car dealerships, or a thermostat recycling company, focusing on the theme of the ad groups becomes more important than ever. The best way to increase CTR and impression share is having a very uniformed set of keywords per ad group. Budget and filtering out irrelevant traffic is important too, but having a defined, finely-tuned set of keywords in an ad group will increase your likelihood of your ad being served to the right person at the right time. 

 

The Gillespie Group