Rationalising your Google Ads keywords

There was a time when your Google AdWords (now Google Ads) campaigns had to cover every tiniest variation in the searches you were targeting. Over the years, Google has given itself permission to be much more liberal in interpreting what advertisers really want, so today that’s not nearly as important.

For example, there’s really little difference in practice now between “blue widgets” (which requires the words together) and +blue +widgets (which technically allows the words to be separated). There’s also no need to have blue widget and blue widgets, as Google seems to have decided that advertising against one indicates a desire to advertise against the other.

Many Google Ads management professionals have found the loss of precise control irritating, but we don’t get to influence the rules, sadly. If we don’t want some of the ‘close matches’ Google will assume we want, it’s our job to include them in a ‘negative keywords’ list, which could include plurals.

The upside is that keywords lists can be a lot leaner and manageable than they were in the past. I’m not sure it’s worth spending a lot of time rationalising existing groups, but understanding the redundancies could make setting up new groups quicker.