We recently started managing a Google AdWords account that was originally set up prior to the “close variants” change of 2012. The client reported that they turned close variants off in their campaign as soon as it was announced that they could do this. Of course, being good stewards of our new client’s budget, we confirmed this with a visual check of our own – all campaigns had close variants turned off. Imagine our surprise when, while doing a routine check of matched keywords to look for negatives to add, we saw this:


When we started looking back at the other keywords that had been marked as “close variants” for the life of the campaign, we found almost $1500 in spend that we had not approved. We’ve contacted Google and they’ve promised to look into it, but we highly recommend checking into your own campaigns.

Use the dimensions tab, view “search terms” and make sure “match types” is one of the selected columns. If you sort by Match type descending, you can see if you too have a problem with either “Exact (close variant)” or “Phrase (close variant)”.

Let us know in the comments if you see similar problems!