New changes to phrase match and broad match modifier - What does that mean for you?

May 19, 2021

As of February 2021, Google has started to make some changes to the phrase match and the broad match modifier. What is going on? What will happen? And how will these changes affect you? Well, let's look at the answers together in this blog.

GooglePPCShopping campaigns

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New changes to phrase match and broad match modifier - What does that mean for you?

For quite a bit of time, we have been familiar with the four keyword match types: Exact match, broad match, phrase match, and broad match modifier. But before we know it, we have to say goodbye to the broad match modifier as Google has announced they will bring its behaviour into the phrase match type.

To simplify the keyword portfolio and help advertisers reach more relevant user searches, we are bringing behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) into phrase match, and phasing out support for BMM, tells David Wihl from the Google Ads API Team, source: Google Ads Developer Blog.

It is no secret that many advertisers have been experiencing lots of overlapping behaviour between the two match types in the past. Therefore, it seems only logical that Google will bring both match types together and thereby give advertisers an easier way to gain more control and a better reach.

To give a more detailed explanation of what a pairing between the two means we would like to refer to Google´s very own example of a moving company that wants to be found by people interested to move away from the city of New York and up to Boston. Using the optimized phrase match, the moving company can now reach people who want to make this exact move, even without reaching people who want to move the other way around. Check out the illustration below for more details.

About changes to Phase match and BMM final V3-01
Source: Google, Making it easier to reach the right customers on Search

What can users expect from these changes?

Obviously, this depends a lot on the individual users' usage of both phrase match and/ or Broad match modifier. Let's try to set up two scenarios:

  1. Users who to a greater extent uses phrase match

    These users should expect to see an incremental increase in both clicks and conversions. The reason for this is because of the added queries to which keywords will now be eligible to match. For example, “vacation on Ibiza” as the updated phrase will begin to match “vacation hotels on Ibiza”, which was previously only eligible for broad match modifier in the past.

  2. Users who to a greater extent uses broad match modifier

    These users should expect to see a slight decrease in clicks and conversions. The reason for this is due to these broad match modifier types where the modifier was only added to one part of the keyword, for example, football +shoes.

    Furthermore, Google will also start to consider the order of the words when it has some importance to the meaning of the keywords. Therefore, for some matches that were previously matched by a broad match modifier, these will be filtered out. To shortly go back to the illustration from Google before, this is also what you see at the very bottom of the illustration (the optimized phrase match will not catch “Boston to New York” but only “New York to Boston” because this has importance to the keyword and the advertiser).

Note: all changes to broad match modified and phrase match will not have an impact on negative keyword match types.

When will these changes happen and is there anything you need to do?

As mentioned in the introduction, Google has already taken the first steps to move the behaviour of broad match modifiers into the phrase match. They will start with the languages English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian before continuing in Q2 2021 with all the other Google Ads languages. Google expects to have the new phrase match fully updated in July 2021.

But is there anything you need to do? Only a tiny bit.

At Channable we will also start phasing out the creation of broad match modifier keywords, meaning from July 2021 you will no longer be able to create these types of keywords. What this also means is that Channable will no longer be able to send broad match modifier keywords to Google, meaning you will have to make a decision with your setup, if you are using these types of keywords. Maybe they need a conversion to phrase match or some other type?

We know this task can be quite challenging, especially if you run multiple Google Ads generators at the same time. To smoothen the transition just a tiny bit we will be releasing a bulk-convert button later in May 2021. With this button, you will be able to convert your broad-match modified keywords to other types of keywords all at once.

A few tips in the end:

  1. With all this in mind, we recommend all users decide which keyword types they want to convert to. Phrase match might be the most straightforward option, but we will leave the choice fully up to you.
  2. Going forward, we likewise recommend all users stop creating new broad match modifier keywords.
  3. As traffic might fluctuate a bit, depending on your keyword usage, we recommend monitoring the performance and make budget adjustments if needed.
  4. If you are concerned about losing coverage, try to use broad match keywords in combination with a smart bidding strategy. This will most likely help you generate more relevant searches that also meet your performance goals.

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Jacob JørgensenTeam Lead Demand Generation

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