How Amazon PPC Handles Misspelled Words

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We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. But for many in the Amazon PPC world, the question isn’t whether or not consumers make mistakes but are those mistakes costing you? 

With features like auto-correct and predictive text algorithms on everyone’s phone, we sometimes find that our spelling isn’t nearly as sharp as used to be.

Obviously Amazon’s search bar isn’t immune to these errors, and sellers have taken note of these frequent mistakes. To remedy this problem, misspelled search term generators are relied on by some companies and agencies, but are they really necessary?

How a Misspelled Word Affects Your Performance

To understand where your time is best spent when looking at Amazon’s advertising platform, it’s important to know how the platform works. 

We all know that there are three types of terms in Amazon PPC

  • Exact Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Broad Match

Just as these three types of terms have different functionalities, they also differ in how they treat misspelled words.

Exact Match or “Exact-ish” Match

When you think about a single word, let’s use “board” as an example, what is the easiest way to change that word so that it still refers to the same object but is different nonetheless? Adding an “s” and making it plural. 

In the Amazon world, people fret over the smallest of details, and even making a noun plural will occupy the mind of some sellers because “board” isn’t the exact same thing as “boards.” It’s not technically the same, but this is where an exact match term would more aptly be described as exact-ish. Without putting a negative on “boards,” your product will still show up when either board or boards is searched, so don’t knit pick every little variation.

However, if you only want to show up for the singular “board” and you don’t want to show up for “boards,” can’t you put a negative on “boards?” Unfortunately, you can’t. In the past, when exact match was actually exact, this was possible. Now that exact match accounts for these variations in spelling, differentiating between “board” and “boards” isn’t possible.

When it comes to misspelled words, exact-ish matches are also deployed. That means that if you are selling shoes and someone types in “shoees” or “shoez” into the search bar, Amazon will do one of two things. The most common remedy is Amazon showing results for the correctly spelled word.

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In rare cases, Amazon will give users an option with a prompt that reads: “Did you mean shoes?” As time has gone on, this prompt is seen less frequently, and Amazon is clearly trying to move away from this option and correct misspelled words automatically.

Another interesting thing Amazon does is allow for certain words to be inserted inside an exact match keyword. Let’s say you sell Lord of the Rings t-shirts and someone types in “the Lord of Rings t-shirt” your ad will still appear. Why? Because Amazon isn’t exact with words like “the” and “of” and essentially views them as inconsequential compared to “Lord” and “Rings.”

To remember where exactly misspelled words will trip you up and what you can and can’t get away with when it comes to exact match, check out our guide:

exact match amazon ppc ad badger

Broad and Phrase Match

Similar to exact match, Amazon accounts for misspelling when you’re using broad and phrase match. If you have “men’s running shoes” set as a phrase match keyword and someone enters “men running shoes” you will still show up even regardless of whether the possessive or normal version of the word is used.

Where Amazon Misses the Mark

Unfortunately, you cannot dictate which form of a keyword (plural or singular) gets impressions. This is possible in Google Ads, which Amazon has used as a blueprint in many areas, but not for Amazon PPC. 

We tested this theory by creating two campaigns:

  • Campaign 1: Containing only a singular keyword and using a negative on the plural form of the word.
  • Campaign 2: Containing only a plural keyword and using a negative on the singular form of the word.

For both campaigns, the negative blocked all impressions. That means that Amazon will not let you distinguish between something like “cutting board” and “cutting boards.” With this system, there’s no reason to separate campaigns based on singular and plural versions of a word or misspellings of a word.

Brand Analytics: How it is Affected by User Mistakes

We’ve talked about Amazon’s ranking of search terms in the past and how it shows the frequency of searches. This list does not take into account misspelled words or singular/plural differentiation.

If you’re looking at the report and see a common misspelling, say “vitamin” versus “vitamine,” these will be ranked separately.

Key Takeaways

We’ve seen it countless times before. When sellers have us examine their campaigns we see campaigns filled with misspelled words from a keyword generator. This may have been useful five years ago, but Amazon has become quite a bit more sophisticated since then. Today, it’s not worth having campaigns filled with misspelled words because Amazon has you covered.

It is important to realize the shortcomings of this system. Using negatives for misspelled words or singular/plural versions of a word will block all of your impressions. Not great, but hopefully Amazon will add an option where exact match actually means exact.
Don’t waste your money on a random keyword generator for misspelled words and don’t waste your time worrying about the infinite number of ways a consumer can spell a word. Amazon PPC is confusing enough. Don’t sweat the small stuff.


Discover Us on our PPC Den Podcast

If you enjoy supplementing your long reads with audio, we cover this topic on our podcast as well. 

Listen to it in the episode below or find us on your favorite streaming platform, like Apple, Google, Spotify, and more!

  • 1:10 Intro
  • 2:55 How you should think about misspellings 
  • 5:05 How exact match has become exact-ish
  • 12:10 Misspellings with broad and phrase match
  • 12:40 How negatives affect your exact matches
  • 15:35 Search term rankings and misspelled words
  • 17:20 What you should actually do about misspelled words
  • 21:15 Closing thoughts

Watch Mike & Stephen on YouTube

If you enjoy supplementing your long reads with video, well, hot diggity dog, you’re in luck! We cover this topic on our YouTube channel too. 

Watch it below and please don’t forget to ‘like’ and subscribe.

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