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How Can I Prevent Close Variant Keywords from Creeping In?

This question is from Ross in The UK:

“How can I genuinely stop close variants from creeping in on campaigns. Is there a tool or generator that can mine close variants?”

This is a good question.

First, let’s define close variants.

“Close variants” is basically a variation of one of your keywords that Google thinks is close enough, that if you have that keyword added, and someone searches for that variation, it would still trigger your ads.

For example, if you have a keyword “lawn mowing companies”, and someone were to search “grass mowing companies”, Google would find that the latter is similar to the “lawn mowing companies”, and that your ad would show up even if you didn’t add “grass mowing companies” as a keyword.

It doesn’t matter which match-type you’re using with your keywords. Even if you’re using exact match keywords or phrase match keywords, your ads will still show with close variance keywords. That’s a fairly recent change that Google is implementing.

The solution:

Add as many keywords as you can that you want to target, and then adding as many negative keywords as possible.

Google is only going to show close variants if you don’t already have it in your campaign. If you already have the keyword added to your campaign, for example, you have the keyword “lawn mowing companies” and “grass mowing companies”, then whenever someone searches one or the other, Google is going to match that with the keyword you’ve already added. It’s not going to use a close variant since you’ve already included it. 

As long as you’re adding all of the possible keywords that you can, including the variations of those keywords, you’re actually going to see that people’s searches are going to fall where you want them to. Then it becomes an issue of looking at your search terms, the things that people are typing into Google before they click on your ad. If you see a lot of keywords that don’t fit, you have to add negative keywords into your campaign.

There isn’t really a big difference right now. Just because Google has opened up these close variants, there’s nothing that you have to do differently.

As far as tools or generators that can mine close variants, you can use the Google Keyword Planner for this.

I personally typed in “lawn mowing companies” in the keyword planner to get keyword ideas from Google. I know that some of the words are close variants. One example is “lawn mower companies”. There’s a big difference between lawn mowing companies and lawn mower companies. Someone who is looking to buy a lawn mower will type “lawn mower companies”. Whereas someone searching for “lawn mowing companies” is looking for someone to mow their lawn. Using the Keyword Planner, I can find these close variants, and I can add “mower” as a negative keyword. 

That’s just one keyword example, but there are still many close variants generated by Google Keyword Planner. I will either add them as regular keywords or negative keywords to the campaign.

To help you keep your close variant keyword concerns covered, you can also use my tool, Make the most of it and add plenty more negative keywords to your campaign before it even starts running!