Keywords and their management have historically been a central plank of managing Search Advertising campaigns for all search engines. But all the evidence suggests that this is changing, slowly but surely. It is at the point now where, if you haven’t begun to act, you may already be behind the curve.
Even in the realm of keywords, the impact of selecting any single keyword to bid on has been softened in a number of ways:
- Exact Match and Phrase match will now match to the terms in the keyword regardless of the order they appear
- Exact and Phrase match will match to “close variants” of each term in a keyword, such as plurals and misspellings.
- Words typically regarded as linking terms, like “the” and “for”, are now “invisible” to AdWords for the purposes of matching.
The aim of the above is to vastly reduce (in theory) the population of separate keywords an advertiser must manage to maximize their reach.
Beyond this, on the bidding side, Google have been developing automated bidding based not on your keywords but on the search at the time – specifically, how likely that search is going to turn into a click by a user and a sale or conversion.
The main outcome of this is that, even if you have no keywords (e.g. you use Dynamic Search Ads) Google can bid toward an efficiency goal of your choosing (ROI, Cost of Sale, CPA) and advertisers are left just to exclude searches they don’t want.
There are, in fact, a number of optimization steps you’ll need to take with DSA – not least is structure as it relates to landing pages.
But the bottom line is still that keywords are becoming increasingly optional. They’d not dead yet, for sure, but their days seem to be numbered.