Google Removes Exact Match and Phrase Match Keywords

Google Removes Exact  Match and Phrase Match Keywords

Last Thursday, August 14th, came an announcement from Google that’s sure to turn some smiles upside down in the online marketing community.

According to Inside Adwords, starting late September, the opt out feature of close variant keyword matching on all exact and phrase match keywords will be discontinued. Instead, Google will automatically apply close variant keyword matching, a more intuitive way of connecting people with businesses they are searching for.

How it works

As the phrase implies, close variant keyword matching shows your ad for the exact keyword you are bidding on, as well as its singular/plural form, common misspellings, accents, acronyms, stemming and abbreviations. Currently, it is the default setting for campaigns which can be turned off under Keyword matching options.

For example, if you’re bidding for the keywords “sports equipment” your ad will also be shown for

  • sporting equipment
  • sport equipment
  • sport equipments
  • sport’s equipments

and so on.

What it means

Google purports it to be a win-win solution for users and advertisers, touting it as a way to ensure that people get relevant ads even if they misspell or mistype search terms, and advertisers who run small campaigns get more relevant traffic without having to build and manage an exhaustive list of close variation keywords. In their words, the update should help you, the advertiser, “reach more customers” and while giving you “control with less complexity”.

While this is largely true, it also means that you’ll no longer be able to set specific bids on keyword variants separately. Any time and effort you may have spent on optimizing exact match and phrase match only ad groups and campaigns will effectively be invalidated.

What you should do

Google recommends shifting focus on adding negative keywords instead to reduce cost and shape traffic, which is entirely possible, but those who are already achieving considerable success using exact keywords to trigger their ads will surely have their feathers ruffled, especially when this looks like a move that will translate to increased advertiser spending.

There’s no use crying foul at this point, the update is going to happen and the best thing to do is to just prepare for it. The first step is to figure out all the keywords you do not want your ad to show for. Get a report of all your exact keywords and make a list of the variations that can potentially trigger your ad, and decide which ones you need to add to your negative keywords.

The upside to all of this, some marketers say, is that you’ll potentially catch new conversions in voice and mobile search. It also allows small business owners who manage their own ads to focus more on strategy, rather than excessive keyword lists. But if you ask most marketers, this just spells more profit for Google one way or the other.

What do you think?

How To Make A Co-Branded Infographic Work

Co-branding is a marketing arrangement that has worked time and time again even before the Internet, and there’s no reason why it should not be just as successful in an online marketing endeavor. In the simplest sense, co-branding is when two companies agree to work together for the purpose of combining brand strengths. While this sounds like it can entail a whole lot, the end result can be as minimal as having the two brands appear on one product.

Recognizing that co-branding and working with other established companies to gain new customers is a old time marketing method as seen in this cute video.



Here’s an example of a co-branded infographic we did for, an online vendor of products for kids and babies.

A co-branded infographic between and



We managed to score a lot of wins for our clients with co-branded infographics like this, but not without running into a few obstacles along the way.

Lessons learned

Sometimes getting a particular website or company to co-brand with your client is half the battle, especially if it is a big brand, but ideally you should also look into getting a partner who is willing to put in as much as you.

Here are some important things we have learned that can help increase your odds of getting a good partner:

  • Approach the target site as the client, a PR or a content marketer and not an SEO. Unfortunate as it is, there are lots of companies who don’t want to get involved with SEO agencies, and you don’t want to come across as someone who’s only after a link.
  • Make sure the infographic is relevant to both sites.
  • Pitch several topics based on research from their site, preferably something that has already done well.
  • Show the target site examples of a co-branded infographic so they can see what is involved. Explain the viral potential of an infographic if they aren’t familiar with it, along with a detailed plan on how to promote it.
  • You can also produce a infographic targeted towards a particular type of site and then try to find a partner.
  • The more assistance you put in the research and creative side, the more they will help on the PR side.
  • Offering a giveaway tied with the infographic not only boosts the success of the infographic, but increases odds of getting a partner as well.

Securing a partner however, doesn’t guarantee success. Beware of partners that don’t do any of the work, as they are more likely to:

  • Not end up publishing.
  • Do cheap skimpy posts.
  • Miss launch dates.
  • Not promote it as well.

It’s not uncommon to find partners like these, which is why you should look to your partner as someone who can boost your effort, rather than someone who should complete it. This said, you should make sure your infographic, or any asset that you’d like to promote satisfies the following so that it can move on its own without any help:

  • is well-researched
  • is visually appealing (for infographics and other visual assets)
  • provides genuine value to the reader

To sum up, I highly recommend pursuing co-branding, not only for infographics, but for your other marketing efforts as well since you can potentially reap huge gains in exchange for minimal effort. Not only that, a sucessful co-branding venture can also secure contacts and partnerships that you can tap into in the future for bigger opportunities.

How To Identify Links That are Not Worth Pursuing

No matter how you cut it, traditional link building still has a place in today’s SEO. It is a must to actively seek out link opportunities to supplement your other efforts, but the process can be drudging, time consuming work, which is why most of us choose to outsource it.


Let’s face it, good links are difficult to get. But when backed into a corner by a client demanding to see a long list of links, the temptation to go for “easy” links rears its head.


And we know that “easy” links, in a post-Panda/Penguin world, are almost often bad.


Maybe it’s a habit that carried over from the days where more links meant better. But Google made it pretty darn clear that now, QUALITY is what matters, and a link on a bad site is no longer something benign, it can actually drag your website down.


A website’s PageRank is just one of the many ways to measure quality, but relying solely on it will make you miss out on a lot of opportunities. When faced with dozens and dozens of sites to evaluate, over-scrutinizing each and every one would be counter-productive.


Aside from PageRank and Domain Authority, what would be some good indicators that can give you an idea if a link opportunity on a particular website is not worth going after?


Here are some things to watch out for:


Bad grammar and layout – Articles that look spun and employ bad grammar always raise a red flag. Most of the time these dime-a-dozen sites will also sport a generic blog-type theme. The appearance and content on sites such as these will give you the impression that the owners have little to no regard for quality, is not interested in providing value, and that the sites were created solely for SEO purposes.


Too many outbound links – This can be a tricky one as genuine blogs usually have a lot of outgoing links in their blogroll, but these should be links to other blogs and not commercial sites. Commercial links, if any, should be to recognizable brands or to sites with high PR/DA.


Suspicious and Bad links – These are links to gambling, payday loans, adult, sites, or those which offer free downloads of licensed software, music or movies. Although payday loans and adult sites are somewhat legal, they often engage in spammy and unsavory SEO practices that will negatively impact your site. Besides, these are niches that you don’t want to be associated with.


On rare occasions, there will be sites that will have such links hidden where they can only be discovered by running a link check. These sites might have already been penalized but still, keep a watchful eye out for those.


Accepts link exchange – Most of the time you’ll see this offer on legitimate sites, but link exchanges are generally not a good idea since it’s practically a paid link, except that you paid by putting a link to their site on yours. This practice does not promote natural linking as well, which is why it is frowned upon.


Only Offer Guest Posts Or Except from Everyone – Guest posting was all the rage and sites sprung up to fill this need often as blog networks. These sites often have very little or no other types of posts besides guest posting. This is always a red flag.


Accepts links from any/unrelated niches – Sites that do this eventually end up with a mess of links that nobody really uses. Directories that do this are no exception, since drilling down categories to see a limited number of sites is a waste of time when you can just search on Google.


Sites or blogs that are no longer being updated – This might still be a judgement call. Some may argue that it is still worth the link juice if it is a high PR site, but on the other hand, what is the purpose of putting your link on a website that doesn’t have anybody on it?


Sites With little or no social following or interaction can also be a good determination of a low quality sites.


INFOGRAPHICS: The Future of Marketing

Optimal Targeting’s CEO David Konigsberg shares his insights on the future of marketing with this new metaphysically inclined infographic. It effectively explains how we have evolved in communication and continue to do so. The infographic further demonstrates how people remember and comprehend information better with a fusion of images, and text, and how it has become a great tool in the future of marketing.

INFOGRAPHICS: The Future of Marketing [infographic]

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