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Expanded Match Terms Bolded in Google AdWords

Frank Watson at SearchEngineWatch reported today that Google AdWords in now bolding synonyms in the sponsored search results.

David Szetela spotted this today and contacted Google for confirmation. AdWords is now bolding the expanded match terms in the ads. The example he used saw handbag being bolded when the search contained purse.

I did some quick tests myself and it seems to be the case.  I created a screen shot of the sponsored results for the search term “women purse”.  What I noticed as well, was the fact that the synonym “handbag” was in some cases bolded, but in some instances, it was not.

I highlighted in green where AdWords bolded the keywords used in my search query, in yellow where it bolded the synonym and in red where the same synonym was not bolded.


Frank asked the question:

Can you turn it off, like expanded match etc.

“Evilgreenmonkey” commented the following at the SearchEngineWatch forum thread discussion about this:

Even though this may help people create more naturally flowing copy without having to force a search term into the ad so much, do you think that an advert for “Condos” with “Condominium” highlighted will have the same clickthrough rate?

There was also a discussion started at WebmasterWorld forums.

I agree with Evilgreenmonkey that it will help advertisers to write better ads without the need to worry to have the exact keyword in the Ad copy to get it bolded. However, it is not the exactly the same word the user entered and thus does not reinforce the users intend to the same degree.

I would assume that it could have positive effects, no affects whatsoever and negative effects too. It really depends on the case. While it in the example used probably helps, are there probably cases where it does not, especially in cases where synonyms are bolded that are not widely known or rarely used in people’s everyday language. Testing will tell and it is IMO worth testing it.

If the user clicks on a ad where the synonym is bolded like in the last Ad in my screen shot and the landing page uses the synonym as well it should do as well as before. The interesting question is, if it has impact in cases where the synonym is being used on the landing page, but the exact keyword in the Ad (because of automatic keyword substitution for example). Does the bolded synonym in the search results help the user to accept the synonym instead of the original keyword on the landing page?

Apply grass root marketing methods to find out for yourself…

Testing, Testing and Testing.

Carsten Cumbrowski
Internet marketing resources at, such as PPC campaign testing, tracking and monitoring tools and resources.

Category SEO
Carsten Cumbrowski

Carsten Cumbrowski has years of experience in Affiliate Marketing and knows both sides of the business as the Affiliate and ...

Expanded Match Terms Bolded in Google AdWords

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