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Google Ads: Google dipping their hand in our wallets

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Andy Black

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I'm seeing this more and more...

 

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Andy Black

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For noobs like me, what does this mean?
Do all those searches effectivly give the same results or ads?
Yes, those four search terms get matched to the same keyword, and they will all see the same ads from that ad group.

That's not the problem.


Here's the problem from the image:

My keyword is:
  • +XYZ +Certification +Training
(The capitals don't matter, and XYZ is just an example.)

I want my ad to show when all three of those words
  • are in the search term
  • in any order
  • potentially with other words before, after, or in between
  • allowing misspellings and close variants

That's how modified broad match used to work. We put a "+" sign in front of the words we insist are in the search term.

But those four search terms we see on the left of the image were:
  • xyx certification
  • how long does it take to get a xyz certification
  • how to get xyz certification
  • xyz management certification
Where’s the word “training” that I insisted appear in the search term?

I don't want to appear in front of those search terms yet, because those people are looking for information about xyz certification, they're NOT looking for xyz certification *training*.

We're selling a training course. We want people who are looking for a training course to find the course, not people looking for information about the certification.
 

Creep

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Yes, those four search terms get matched to the same keyword, and they will all see the same ads from that ad group.

That's not the problem.


Here's the problem from the image:

My keyword is:
  • +XYZ +Certification +Training
(The capitals don't matter, and XYZ is just an example.)

I want my ad to show when all three of those words
  • are in the search term
  • in any order
  • potentially with other words before, after, or in between
  • allowing misspellings and close variants

That's how modified broad match used to work. We put a "+" sign in front of the words we insist are in the search term.

But those four search terms we see on the left of the image were:
  • xyx certification
  • how long does it take to get a xyz certification
  • how to get xyz certification
  • xyz management certification
Where’s the word “training” that I insisted appear in the search term?

I don't want to appear in front of those search terms yet, because those people are looking for information about xyz certification, they're NOT looking for xyz certification *training*.

We're selling a training course. We want people who are looking for a training course to find the course, not people looking for information about the certification.
I see! Thats really annoying.
Can you get around it using the regular search symbols?

So using "
"X certification training"
would only show your ad on that exact term if it works like searching.
 
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Andy Black

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I see! Thats really annoying.
Can you get around it using the regular search symbols?

So using "
"X certification training"
would only show your ad on that exact term if it works like searching.
I’m going to have to run some tests.

I’ve seen exact match is getting broader and broader too.

I’ve seen exact match search term [plumber dublin] match search terms like “plumbers in dublin”, and “dublin plumbers”. Innocuous enough in that case, but Google are moving the goalposts without letting us know. That means we have to watch them like a hawk.

The worst I’ve seen recently is keyword +mechanical +engineers get matched to search term “mechanical”. WTF Google??
 
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Andy Black

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Google ads in general are becoming less and less effective.
I don’t know if they’re getting less and less effective. I do know that Google is constantly taking our control away. If it’s because their algorithms can do a better job than us then great. I just don’t believe that’s the reason.
 

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They try to turn themselves into TV kind of ad provider - at the end you will be able to target country and nothing more. They do that to suck as much of ads dollars as possible.
 

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You can see this in their account reps as well. They will "optimize" your campaigns for you which basically means they will maximize the profitability for google.

Amazon is also in this game:

This is why you need to stay on top of the game OR hire somebody to keep on top of it for you.
 
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Andy Black

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Testing Exact Match:

Not looking good. That middle highlighted search term does NOT contain "courses".

27481
 

mosquito

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Is this the end of a modified broad match?

For an exact match we can neg out the single word or combination.
[XYZ Certification Online]

Negative:
[XYZ Certification]
[XYZ Online]
[Certification Online]

And to prevent "same intent" search terms add [XYZ Certification Online] as negative to any similar Ad group (thank you Andy for telling us to use single keyword per ad group).

If it is two words exact match we can add the single word as exact negative.
[XYZ Certification]

Negative:
[XYZ]
[Certification]

This will not save us from the fact that Google can show an ad for the close variants.
Keyword:
[images royalty free]
Search term:
free copyright images


They say: "Adding or removing function words: Function words are prepositions (like “in” or “to”), conjunctions (like “and” or “but”), articles (like “a” or “the”), and other words that don’t impact the intent of a search.

Looks like "training" and "course" don't impact the intent lol


With all those implied words, synonyms, words with the same meaning and removing words by Google, I don't feel in control over my account.
 

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Andy Black

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Is this the end of a modified broad match?

For an exact match we can neg out the single word or combination.
[XYZ Certification Online]

Negative:
[XYZ Certification]
[XYZ Online]
[Certification Online]

And to prevent "same intent" search terms add [XYZ Certification Online] as negative to any similar Ad group (thank you Andy for telling us to use single keyword per ad group).

If it is two words exact match we can add the single word as exact negative.
[XYZ Certification]

Negative:
[XYZ]
[Certification]

This will not save us from the fact that Google can show an ad for the close variants.
Keyword:
[images royalty free]
Search term:
free copyright images


They say: "Adding or removing function words: Function words are prepositions (like “in” or “to”), conjunctions (like “and” or “but”), articles (like “a” or “the”), and other words that don’t impact the intent of a search.

Looks like "training" and "course" don't impact the intent lol


With all those implied words, synonyms, words with the same meaning and removing words by Google, I don't feel in control over my account.
Yeah... good solutions to test.

Part of me is peeved off at Google. The other part is rubbing my hands thinking: “Let’s figure this out and get ahead of the folks who haven’t figured it out.”

It could well be that campaigns end up a lot more complicated just to do what modified broad match used to do. That’s bad, but also good if the competitors don’t do it.

It’s annoying because Google will justify it saying their algorithm is helping us, when I’m pretty sure it’s mostly helping them pick our wallets.


Something I’ve not mentioned except in my private Facebook group is what I call “modified phrase match”. Maybe that would run better?

E.g:
+xyz +certification-courses

There’s no reason it should, but who knows.

I’m from a background on UNIX systems with all the sed, awk, grep and pattern matching. I wouldn’t have been able to release scripts into production if the patterns matched the wrong strings. /rant
 
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Andy Black

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I wonder....

Apparently their algorithm is replacing sequences of words that it thinks are synonymous with another word or sequence of words.

In our case Google is thinking “certification courses” is the same as “certification”, so replacing our keyword:
  • +xyz +certification +courses
with:
  • +xyz +certification

What if the order of the words were different? What would the algorithm do with:
  • +courses +xyz +certification

Or, what if we repeated a word?
  • +xyz +certification +courses +courses
or:
  • +courses +xyz +certification +courses

Seems a bit convoluted, but maybe worth testing. The problem would be that it would work until it stops working...
 

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Just a conjecture, but it seems like they set the all-powerful AI on it and left it to "optimize." It's now conflating things that are not the same, which is a sign of either overtraining or using incorrect boundary conditions.

I'm guessing boundary conditions are the problem, for the same reason you stated. Some manager staring at spreadsheets decided they should train the AI to maximize their short-term revenue, probably also assuming that "higher sales means people want it." Problem is, their higher sales come at the expense of product effectiveness. People will notice this. It creates potential openings in the advertising market, which is a risk to google's interests.

Along with seeing it as an opportunity to outflank competitors, it might be a situation where you can spot a future trend in the advertising space. Namely a future where more of those ad dollars suddenly get smart, flee google, and go somewhere.
 

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I have noticed this, too. One of my observations is that keyword planner will help you to "see" into which words Google thinks are the same or mean the same thing. If the estimated search volume is the same for "XYZ courses" and "XYZ training," that's an indication that Google sees it as synonymous and will serve up ads for either query.

Often, though, the two things that Google has classified as "twins" are NOT the same. They reflect a different intent.

This behavior by Google is making it much more difficult to target very specific niches with good keyword research and great ad copy.
 

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@Andy Black

Any updates on anything you have tried?

I was going through my search terms today and noticed the same thing.

For example, I am bidding on +big +chrome +wheels

In my search terms today I am finding
"Big wheels"
"Chrome Wheels"

I am pissed...to say the least lol

Have you found any strategy to help to prevent waste?

If I negative "chrome wheels", would my ad even show if I am bidding on +big +chrome +wheels.?

I have some testing to do, and a ton of negatives to add.
 
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Andy Black

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@Andy Black

Any updates on anything you have tried?

I was going through my search terms today and noticed the same thing.

For example, I am bidding on +big +chrome +wheels

In my search terms today I am finding
"Big wheels"
"Chrome Wheels"

I am pissed...to say the least lol

Have you found any strategy to help to prevent waste?

If I negative "chrome wheels", would my ad even show if I am bidding on +big +chrome +wheels.?

I have some testing to do, and a ton of negatives to add.
Don’t negative “chrome wheels”. Negative [chrome wheels] instead.

I’m also having to use more negatives. It’s pretty frustrating.
 
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Andy Black

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Luke12321

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You are correct Andy, exact is far from exact anymore.

My google rep called me today after I e-mailed him.

His reply, well...you are getting leads at what seems to be a good price.

He does not see all the BS leads that has been coming through that google is counting as a lead but in reality is worthless.
 
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Andy Black

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You are correct Andy, exact is far from exact anymore.

My google rep called me today after I e-mailed him.

His reply, well...you are getting leads at what seems to be a good price.

He does not see all the BS leads that has been coming through that google is counting as a lead but in reality is worthless.
Exactly. In their eyes a form fill or a phone call is a lead. No, it’s an enquiry, and may be so crap that the client doesn’t count it as a lead. The client would like less enquiries for the same number of leads thanks.
 

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You are correct Andy, exact is far from exact anymore.

My google rep called me today after I e-mailed him.

His reply, well...you are getting leads at what seems to be a good price.

He does not see all the BS leads that has been coming through that google is counting as a lead but in reality is worthless.

Cubicle phone monkeys that can't get a real job.
 

MattKnights

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Sorry that my first post on here is such a negative one, but what do you expect from a public mega corporation? There has been an ongoing trend towards increasing ad spend over at least a decade.

This is just one of hundreds of creeps towards thoroughly unbalanced 'partnerships' with people selling through Google. Feel free to list others that you've noticed!

Remember when Google Shopping was free to advertise on?

Creep.

Remember when ads were a different colour?

Creep.

There have been loads of changes designed to ensure that more people searching click on the ads rather than organic results. It ensures that Google benefit from the rampant competition to be seen on their overly dominant platform. It maximizes their profit and eats into the profits that companies make advertising there.

This behaviour will continue. It's what corporations do. Their no1 customers are their shareholders. Not the businesses who pay for their services.

Under 'textbook' capitalism there's supposed to be competition to ensure that consumers get a good deal. Google now have 92.4% of the global search market. Businesses who consume the product of search engine advertising (the consumers in this case) can therefore logically expect the deal to continue to get worse for them. Google stand ahead with very little competition in the search engine advertising market.

I certainly wouldn't expect the politicians to suddenly do anything serious about Google's dominance. That would require balls.

You might like to seriously consider where you're finding customers. If you're Google Ads dependant or if you're a useful and decent human who's built a career helping people to profit from Google Ads it might be time to think about diversifying.

Making a profit is only going to get harder. The key question is will the parasite kill the host?
 
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Andy Black

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Dear Google,

When we use keyword +laminator it does NOT mean we want ads to show for "laminate".

One preserves documents, photos and drawings. We walk on the other one. They're quite different.

My bad for forgetting how helpful your matching system is and not adding -"laminate" as a negative from the word go.
 
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Andy Black

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Here's another one.

Client mentioned someone rang looking for a locksmith in Denver, North Carolina.

Thanks for ignoring the +co Google...

32470
 
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Andy Black

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Someone showed me this.

No Google. This is not right. This is you dipping your hand in our wallets.

33345
 

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Yes I've noticed some very expensive useless clicks from "close variant" matches lately.
 

Luke12321

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Same....the ads that were more general terms I had running, I had to cut those out months ago.

Now, I am busy adding negative keywords daily due to all the crap being allowed to come through via modified broad, or even exact match.

As frustrating as it may be, staying on top of it will hopefully give an edge on competition.
 
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Andy Black

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As frustrating as it may be, staying on top of it will hopefully give an edge on competition.
Yeah, that's what I tell myself so I keep sane too.
 

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