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Transcript: Close Variants in Google Ads – How to Stop Them with Automation
In this video, we’re going to take a look at close variants. Now, if you don’t know what close variants are, they allow Google to match your campaign keywords to user search terms even if your keywords aren’t specifically targeting that user’s search term. Google decides it can match your keyword to their term based on things like pliurality and things that look similar to what you’re trying to target. Essentially, Google see it as a way to increase the amount of times your ads are showing to a wider and more relevant audience so you don’t miss out on potential searches, and they claim it could make campaign management easy. As you can imagine, this is definitely not always the case.
In this video, we’re going to take a look at close variants, what they do, what you should look for when using them and how to stop them occurring within your Google Ads account, coming up.
Hey guys, Darren Taylor of thebigmarketer.com here. My job is to make you a better marketer. Now, if you’re new to the channel, I’m Darren Taylor, a digital marketing trainer and consultant. I specialize in PPC and SEO. If that sounds of interest to you, you should subscribe to the channel. In this video, we are exploring close variants, which is where Google matches your keywords to a user’s search term even if you’re not targeting that keyword. As mentioned, Google matches your keywords to a user’s search term even if your keyword isn’t targeting that user’s search term. What does that include?
Well, Google has listed all of the things that they look for when matching a close variant search term to your initial keywords. Even if your keyword doesn’t include one of the following, this is a list of what Google actually match your keywords to when taking close variants into account. Google target singular and plural keywords in the same target group as your initial keywords. If you type something in like service, they might make your ads show for things like services. They look at misspellings as well, so if somebody typed something incorrectly, then your keywords can still trigger in your account.
They also look at things like in “ing”, “ed”, and “er”. Again using an example of services, they might make your keywords match to someone typing in servicing. It’s matching the end of the words towards one of the multiple meanings. They look at abbreviations, they look at splits in words. Maybe some people say things as one whole word, other people say things as two separate words. These are all the different types of reasons Google actually use this type of matching. What’s really important to note as well, that list is not all. There is another way they match your keywords.
Google also matches your keywords to what Google thinks you want to show up for on the search results, not including the list I just gave you. Even if there’s a totally different word in the user search term, if Google identifies that particular word as something that the user wants to target in your campaign and Google may decide even if you’re using a phrase match term or an exact match term, that that is what you meant. They’ll force your ads to show even to users who don’t type in the words that should trigger your keywords under normal circumstances.
Again, this affects all keyword match types, not just the exact match. Even though exact match is no longer exact anymore, that is something you need to take into consideration. Google are doing this because they think they want to give you more traffic for searches you could miss out on, meaning more conversions and more traffic for your campaigns. Now, I can already hear when you’re saying that’s not the case and you’re absolutely right. The intent between the small nuances between keywords is really important and it matters.
If you change a singular keyword to a plural and then match that keyword, we know as PPC marketers you’re not going to get the same results across both sets of data. One will perform better than the other. In fact, if Google decide to use a close variant and change the polarity of one of your keywords or add words into your keywords and match your keywords to those particular terms, 9 times out of 10 you are going to get less conversions from that match because you know what works in your campaigns, Google doesn’t. They’re just assuming what’s going to work for you.
Another key reason Google says they do this is because they want to make campaign management easier. If you have close variants working in your campaigns, it means technically, you don’t need massive keyword lists because you can rest assured if you add a basic simple keyword list, Google will find all the polarities and options, and variables within your keywords and allow your ads to show regardless anyway. It makes campaign management technically easier. Again, it comes back to control.
Google don’t want you to have too much control because, ultimately, they’re trying to onboard a new advertisers every single day, and the more they simplify the products the better it is for them. That comes to the detriment of your campaign performance which we’re going to go onto because in the next part of the video we’re going to talk about what you could do about these close variants how you can eliminate them from your campaigns consistently. Before I go into that, if you like what you’re hearing so far, please hit the like button below and let me know. Question of the day, are you actively blocking close variants from your campaigns? Let me know in the comments below.
What can you do about close variants in your campaigns? As you can see on screen as an example in one of my campaigns from my PPC course, you can see that the user search term has no relevance to some of the terms within my keyword. They’ve matched it automatically even though it’s an exact match keyword. What can you do about it? Well, the first thing you can do is use exact match negatives. You can automatically add close variants that are not performing as exact match negatives in your campaigns, making campaign management a lot easier.
You can eliminate close variants by doing this, and of course, exact match in the negative keyword sense works very differently to the exact match in the positive keyword sense. In that if a user types in that search term exactly and it’s a negative keyword, then your ads categorically will not show That’s a great way to eliminate close variants from showing in your campaigns and that’s really important. Another approach you can take to fixing this problem is a bit more of a scientific approach and that is by using a Google Ads script.
If you don’t know what a Google Ads Script is, it allows you to add automation and additional functionality to your campaigns so that you can manage things a lot closer in an automated way by using scripts and code. This is a great way to do it as well. Luckily for us, a guy named Dan Gilbert over at Brainlabs has created a script that allows you to comb through your campaign, look at your exact match keywords, compare them to the search term that triggered them and if there’s a close variant, it will automatically add them as a negative keyword in your campaigns.
In this next section of this video, I’m going to show you exactly how you can use this script and implement it on your campaigns to automate the task of adding close variants as negative keywords to stop the problem altogether. Let’s add these scripts I was mentioning that will allow us to stop close variants from appearing and triggering our exact match keywords. Basically, we’re making exact match keywords exact once again without close variants. I’ve got the script hosted over on my website, you can see it at this address here. If you can’t make note of it and don’t want to type it out, I’ve linked it out in the description of the video.
Let’s run through very quickly what the script actually does and when we should use it as well, and import it into Google ads. The script allows exact match to be exact and you can actually use this section here to add filters to the script. At the moment as a default, it will run on every campaign across the entire account. If you want to exclude campaigns or run it only on specific campaigns, you can use this functionality and add the campaign containing within the square brackets here. That will allow you to filter the campaign. For this example what we’re going to do is run it across every single campaign in the account as a test run.
Next, you can choose whether or not you want the script itself to add the negative keywords directly for you and automatically do that when it encounters a close variant that triggers one of your exact match keywords. If you don’t want it to do that, what you can do is have the list of close variants emailed to you as a result of the script running. Instead of adding the keywords that it matches to in terms of the close variants, you can actually have the close variants emailed to you directly. Just change the email address here and then that will send it to you, but you also need to change this to true if you would like the email to be sent to you and containing your close variants that triggered your exact match keywords. If you do this, it won’t automatically add the exact match negative keywords based on your close variants.
This will show you exactly how to do this. What you can do here is you can set the query to true if keywords contain any of the same words making it a negative. Keeping it true we’ll keep– In fact keeping everything in the script as it is will make it do exactly what I mentioned, which is to find close variants in your account and add them as negative keywords if they trigger one of your exact match keywords. If you want to use edit distance, you can change I guess the tolerance of the script as well to say if it’s three words considered distinct, then you can add three, you can even lower that as well if you wanted to be less distinct of a match towards your negative keywords. That’s really important as well.
What we’re going to do is we’re going to keep all the main functionality in the core functionality of this script because it’s going to work across all of our accounts. You can also remove ad groups with non-exact keywords as well. It’s a bit more complex than just using this script to I guess add negative keywords as well. This will also allow you to customize what you’re doing. All of the descriptions here in the comments of the script, you can see what the functionality does and you can play on that functionality and change how the script operates yourself as well.
You can pull a list of all your close variants is what the script is doing. When it does that, it will compare that close variant list to your data in terms of your negative key or exact match keywords. Then it will create the exact match negative keyword list based on those close variants and at the end, it will email the results in a CSV file for you as well. That’s the email part of it, but we don’t even need that part necessarily, but we’ll still add it into the script.
That’s our script, let’s add it into Google ads. All you need to do is head over to Google ads, go to tools and settings, and then under bulk actions you will see scripts. When you go into scripts, you’ll see a blue button here which will allow you to add a new script to your account, and then once you’ve done that, it takes a little while to load because there’s a lot of data involved in running scripts. It might take a while to load this page, but be sure it will open up eventually.
Once the page has loaded and the script is in place, it comes up with a default empty script that you can use. We’re going to delete that default empty scripts. We’re going to hop over here and we’re going to copy and paste the entire script into the script field of Google Ads. We’ve copied that and we’re going to paste it in here. There’s the script as it was on the website. You can see it here, all the functionality is going to be the same as what we just copied and pasted. Next thing you need to do is give the script a name. I’m going to call this one a negative keyword no close variants.
That’s in place now. That’s got an appropriate name. Before you do that, be sure to hit save at this point because you’ve named it, you’ve copied the script in place, and don’t forget you need to make the changes if you want to run it with any of the filters as well. Once you’ve saved the script, it’s in place, and you need to verify the scripts to work on your account because scripts can make changes to your account without you being there and you need to authorize that functionality, because it can be an exploitation if used incorrectly. Click this blue button here to authorize, that will create a popup, and then you need to verify it and click allow to allow the scripts to run on your account.
Then once you’ve verified the script, all you need to do now is, of course, run the script itself. Click on Run to start running the script. Normally, if you write a script yourself and you’re not quite sure what the result’s going to be, or you’re using a third party script you don’t quite trust or know the source of, then you couldn’t preview the script before running to see what it does. Because this is a massively used script from a reputable provider, I’m going to run it without a preview. The script is running in the background now, and it’s running, it’s applying, it’s made a log and it’s finished successfully.
The script has now run successfully and we’re in a position now where it’s completed the task we wanted it to do and let’s go through and look at the logs. It’s not found anything because, of course, this is a test account, but it’s important to understand the logs. You look for the campaigns, it looks for the ad groups. It finds the negatives it needs to add and if it’s not sending email, it won’t use the email address given. If you did give an email address, it would send the email. If it did find any matching close variants, that will be shown here with the number that were found and the number of negative keywords that were found as well, and that’s how the scripts would run.
It made no changes, of course, because this is a test account. In your account when you run this script, it will come back with the returned results of the data when running the script. That explains to you how to use this script in order for you to find close variants in your account and remove them, and automatically add them as exact match keywords, exact match negative keywords. What you also need to do is if you go back to all bulk actions and navigate back to scripts, you can also choose how frequently the scripts will run as well.
You’ve got options here and you can choose frequency. When you go to frequency, you can run it daily as the most you can do, you can do hourly as well. I would say this kind of script, you could run it daily as opposed to hourly just so you can make sure you give yourself enough time to see if there’s any issues. If you run it daily at a certain time of day, then it will automatically apply that to your campaigns. Be sure to hit save when you choose your frequency, because once you run the script once, if you don’t choose a frequency, then you’ll have to go in and manually do it every single time. Be sure to choose your frequency of your script, and then that will allow you to run the script automatically at that given time.
Thank you very much for watching this video. If you liked it, please leave a like, and again, my question of the day, are you worried about your close variants and are you eliminating them from your campaigns? Let me know in the comments below. I reply to pretty much every single comment I get. Hit me up down there. More important than that, check out the other content across my channel. Don’t forget to subscribe and I’ll see you guys on my next video.