Google Now Includes Close Variants with Implied Meaning in Search Results

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Though the search algorithms used by Google and other search platforms are largely a secret, one thing that has remained true over the years is that keywords matter. This means choosing the right keyword phrases for a particular industry an extremely important part of any SEO strategy. A recent change to Google search may help marketers by including the implied meaning of a search in the results along with the exact match results.

When search engines first became popular, it was necessary to find the exact keyword or keyword phrase your target audience was likely to search for. With time, most search engines gained the ability to expand searches to include similar phrases where the wording is a little different (e.g. verb tenses or plural forms). What Google is proposing is a little different, and will be able to find entirely different phrases that have similar implied meanings.

To show how this would work in practice, Google used Yosemite National Park as an example. According to Google, with this change, [yosemite camping] will now match to queries such as “yosemite campground” and “campsites in yosemite.”

This change has huge implications for SEO marketing and content creation. Using close variants allows for more opportunities for search results and ad placement. Google states that  “early tests show that advertisers using mostly exact match keywords see 3% more exact match clicks and conversions on average, with most coming from queries they aren’t reaching today.”

While Google is proud of their accomplishment, close variants may have a negative on advertisers and marketers who had fine-tuned their campaigns for an exact match system. In an article on Search Engine Land, several marketing and advertising executive voiced concerns about the change. But we will have to wait to see how much effect it has.  

Another recent change on Google worth mentioning involves Google My Business. Business owners can now set up their Google My Business for a business that has yet to open and include the Grand Opening date. This is a minor change, but it will help businesses establish an online presence before opening their doors.

According to Brandify, who verified the test with Google,  “It’s simple enough to supply Google with opening dates for new locations. This can be done by making use of the “open date” field — but for now you can only enter future dates manually in the GMB dashboard. Just how far in the future you can list a new location is still to be determined. And because this is a limited pilot, there’s no guarantee yet that your brand’s listings will qualify for advance publication.”

While this is only helpful when opening a new location, it’s something for business owners and marketers to keep in mind when setting up online profiles.

For more recent news about changes at Google, read this article on Google’s experiment with delivering “Good News”.

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