Remember that (very) old saying “Close but no cigar*”? How about “Close doesn’t count, except in horseshoes*”?

In AdWords “close” can net you a 7% increase in traffic.

But do you want that traffic?

When you create a campaign within the Google web interface (though why you would do that when you have SpeedPPC is beyond me) you have the option of including plurals, misspellings, and other close variants for your exact and phrase keywords or you can choose not to include these “close variants”.

Include Close Variants is the default.

“Close variants” include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.

Google writes: “Whether it’s “kid scooters”, “kid’s scooter”, or “kids scooters”, people interested in buying a scooter for their child want to see the most relevant ads despite slight variations in their search query… close variant keyword matching, an intuitive way to connect people with the businesses they’re searching for, to all exact and phrase match keywords”.

Most of us managing PPC campaigns would probably agree with that statement. I certainly do and although I have played with turning this option off, currently of the 30+ AdWords accounts I manage – it is turned on for all of them.

However soon you will no longer have that choice.

Starting in late September Google will be applying close variant keyword matching to all exact and phrase match keywords. You will not be able to opt-out.

If you – like me – always use close variants, this announcement shouldn’t ruffle any feathers (behind the factor that Google has taken away another “choice”) – but for those who for whatever reasons only wish to target very specific keywords and not variations, you need to start thinking about how this may affect campaign performance.

You can read more about this at the Inside AdWords blog:

*From the practice of giving cigars as prizes at carnivals in the US in the 19th century; this phrase would be said to those who failed to win a prize.

*Refers to playing a game, tossing horseshoes, and trying to ‘ring’ a post or spike. Evidently, you do get some points for being close to the post, but in other games, you get nothing for being close!