Update to Google’s ‘remove redundant keywords’ auto-apply recommendation

Rob Dennis

Paid Media Manager

Be in the know

Google is updating its ‘remove redundant keywords’ recommendation, which is making it increasingly difficult for advertisers, who aren’t in the know, to curate and maintain their keyword lists.

Previously Google suggested removing keywords that were semantically the same as other keywords but didn’t perform as well. This was particularly useful for streamlining an account or campaign without compromising on keyword coverage, visibility and traffic volume, and ultimately conversion performance. However, in a bid to shift accounts over to a broad match structure, further indicating that we’re moving away from a keyword match type world, Google is expanding the definition of ‘redundant keywords’ to include different match types of the same keyword.

In an email shared with advertisers, they’ve defined redundant keywords as “equivalent to higher-performing keywords or keywords in broader match types”. Using their example, if you have the phrase match keyword ‘women’s hats’ live and the broad match keyword ‘ladies hats’ also live, it will recommend that you pause the phrase match keyword.

Why make this recommendation now?

Google has said that the reason for this recommendation is to consolidate keywords and free up advertisers’ time to manage their accounts at a more strategic level, rather than getting bogged down in the detail.

However, even though great strides have been made in Google’s semantic algorithms and broad match traffic has improved greatly over the years, we are still seeing broad match appear for searches that aren’t relevant or are more costly for the advertiser.

Furthermore, this directly impacts ad copy and ads that may have been specifically curated to appeal to a specific aspect of the keyword, including the landing page, which may not translate effectively to a synonym, and, in turn, result in a poorer user experience.

We have seen significant differences in performance between match types, with conversion rates and traffic quality of broad match terms (and close variants) often significantly less effective than exact match or phrase match. Taking away control of match types from advertisers and giving it to an algorithm could result in:

  • Higher volume but lower quality searches

  • Increased media spend from increased CPCs as the search and competitor pool expands

  • Less tailored user experience and therefore lower conversion

Disabling this recommendation’s auto-apply settings will enable the advertiser to manually review the performance between similar keywords and make an informed decision over whether to pause the keyword or not based on performance analysis, including trialling the changes as part of an A/B test.

Key takeaways
  • Disable this auto-apply recommendation

  • Undertake a thorough analysis of any keywords that Google flags as “redundant” before pausing them

  • Run an experiment with the proposed changes and test whether the change will be right for you before committing

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