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Early Results From Google’s Updates To Close Variants

Early Results From Google’s Updates To Close Variants

What impact has Google’s latest update to close variants had on paid search performance. A couple of months back Google started expanding the company’s definition of what establishes a close variant exact match, this is actually a change they wanted to be released over the next few months.

Close variant traffic share

From research, we have come across to a close variant of traffic “exact” & “exact” non-brand traffic. From looking we can see that it has remained relatively the same so far within the month April to May compared to what they have seen in the beginning of 2016 across the following devices Desktop, Phone, Tablet.

From this graph, we can see they have measured the close variant traffic in a particular way which it really gives a sense of the share of traffic which is attributed to close variants if every single keyword in an account which were set to exact match. This method helps to lower the effect of the advertisers all relying more on phase and broad match types compared to others.

Looking at the measurement of the brand traffic there hasn’t been as much traffic and there has been no obvious movement for the result in Google’s update.

The close varient traffic has been measured in this way because it gives an impression of what share of traffic would be attributed to close varients if every single keyword in an account were set an exact match. This will actually help advertisers minimise relying on phase and broad match types than others, which could raise the impact of metrics, for instance the overall share of search traffic coming from the exact close varients.

From the measurement for brand traffic, the close varients account for a much smaller share of exact traffic, there hasn’t acually had much movement as from the latest Google’s update.

The updates to the definition of what it constitutes a “close varient” have not affected how much traffic these matches drive just yet. But Google have mentioned a timeline of “over the next several months”.

Comparing the conversion rate of exact close varient non-brand traffic to pure exact, relative performance has really remained the same on both desktop and tablet since the announcement. Tablet relative perforance has gone down.

The update hasn’t actually impacted the relative conversion rate of the close variants to the pure exact match or the share of traffic coming from close variants.

The net impact of close variants on exact non-brand conversion rate


For the median advertiser, close variants are bringing down the total conversion rate of non-brand exact match traffic between 3 percent and 5 percent in Q2.


The impact ranges widely across the sample set studied, and some advertisers see far worse results. On the other hand, some brands see a slightly higher overall non-brand conversion rate when factoring in close variants.