Google’s Making Changes! Broad match modifier to be phased out

Google announced earlier this year that they will begin rolling out changes to Phrase Match & Broad Match Modifier (BMM) for Google Paid Search.

In a move to make reaching relevant customers easier, Google will be getting rid of the ever so popular broad match modifier and giving phrase match the power to reach the traffic of both of the match types combined. This game changer, in layman’s terms, would mean that with broad match modifier ceasing to exist by mid this year, phrase match keywords will expand their reach capabilities even beyond that of a current broad match modified keyword.

According to Google, this change of phrase match taking on the role of a BMM, will simplify the job of an advertiser by helping to streamline keyword management, and also by making keyword matching more predictable and hence enabling smarter targeting.

What were broad match modifier and phrase match keywords traditionally?

Broad match modifier, put simply required a “+” syntax to be added in before a specific word in your keyword. This word or a close variant, would therefore have to be included in a user’s search query, in order for your keyword to be triggered and for your ad to show. For example, if the BMM keyword +kids +day +care was used, searches like “day care for my kid in Singapore” would trigger your ad.

Phrase match on the other hand, more restrictive than BMM, required a word or phrase to be added in the middle of double quotation marks; for example, “kids day care”. This would therefore be triggered by searches that included the whole keyword in the order that you specified, with allowances for additional words to be put in before or after. In this instance, the phrase match keyword “kids day care” would show up for searches like “kids day care Singapore” or “affordable kids day care”, and so on. 

What does it now mean for phrase match to include broad match modifier traffic?

As mentioned earlier, phrase match was traditionally more restrictive. With the phasing out of BMM, we will now notice that this restrictiveness will be slightly weakened. While it was traditionally designed for the words of a keyword to be kept in the same order, with additions before or after, now that will not be the case. Below, we’d like to use Google’s own example of updated phrase match behavior, mentioned in their update on the new roll-out, to show you what the change entails.

keyword match types

And to further illustrate the change, here are more examples by Google

Queries that will no longer match after the updateSource

What does this mean to keywords in a campaign you are currently running?

As the change is happening to both match types concurrently, no past performance history will be lost and migrating keywords will not be necessary. Once broad match modifier is completely phased out in July 2021, we will only be able to create phrase and exact match keywords, and unable to further create any keywords with the broad match modifier match type. From then on, traditional broad match modifier search results will become available in the updated phrase matching behavior. Current BMM keywords in your campaign will continue to run, but on the new matching behavior. If you are currently targeting two very similar keywords in different match types, in the same ad group, Google will still send the more relevant one to compete in the ad auction. Although BMM still technically exists, advertisers are advised to create only phrase match and exact match keywords moving forward.

What do you need to do as an advertiser?

  1. When adding new keywords to your campaigns, only use exact and phrase match.
  2. Updated phrase match will bring in traffic that the previous phrase match did not, some of which may not be suitable for your campaign. So, monitoring the Search Terms report and adding in negative keywords is a must.
  3. Also monitor the Average CPC of the keywords in your campaign, along with the spend. The update could bring with it a surge of traffic, which will take a toll on your budget and end up limiting the showing of your ads.
  4. Browse the Recommendations tab on the Google Ads Console and add in suitable keywords that have been suggested for your campaigns in order to expand reach.
  5. Don’t rush it. Google recommends only converting the broad match modifier keywords in your campaign to phrase match once the roll out is complete, in July 2021. Making the change prematurely might lead to a drop in traffic.  

What will the effects of this change be?

Preparation and adaptation are key, here. Once the new update is fully rolled out, the pros and cons will begin to show. For the time being, it seems like a step in the right direction, as it aids in smarter and more simplified targeting. If advertisers continue doing their due diligence when it comes to writing excellent and highly relevant ad copies, monitoring the search terms and diligently adding in negative keywords where needed – as mentioned previous, in addition to adapting to the new change accurately, they will most likely not see a major fluctuation in stats. This change could be a highly effective optimization tool when used the right way. It’s safe to say that this may be one of Google’s latest changes, but it sure won’t be the last!