Google Ads Phrase Match Is Going To Include Broad Match Modifier Keywords

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Google Ads is making another change in keyword match type. From now on, Phrase Match is going to cover more Broad Match Modifier Traffic.

Phrase March Update

On February 4th, 2021, Google announced that Phrase Match will be expanded to include Broad Match Modifier (BMM) traffic – and therefore Phrase match will work almost the same as the Broad Match Modifier we know today.

In addition, Google announced the sunset of adding modifiers (+) to broad match keywords. Thus, in July, once the new behavior has been rolled out worldwide, advertisers will no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords.

Why Google Is Updating Phrase Match Type ?

Google says they have improved the understanding of the intent behind user’s search – and thus, they can better match search queries to paid search ads (with Smart Bidding).

With these improvements, phrase match and broad match modifier start serving almost the same queries. Then, it made sense to combine the two-match types to reach more of the right customers.

In addition to the above reasons, Google wants to simplify the match types:

  • Exact match for precision
  • Broad match for reach
  • Phrase match and broad match modifier for a balance of both

On the other side, we can’t prevent thinking that Google is doing this to:

  • push advertisers towards its automated advertising capabilities
  • take control back from advertisers
  • make advertisers focus less on keywords

What Now ?

Following this match type update:

  • Starting mid-February, both phrase match and broad match modifier keywords will begin to transition to this new matching behavior.
  • The roll out will affect first keywords in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian
  • Your phrase match keywords will start matching against user queries which are in different order – then your keywords
  • Thus, expect an increase in traffic from phrase keywords
  • Inversely, as Google will respect word order, expect a decrease in impressions / clicks from your BMM keywords

Google gave an example to explain how the new match type is working. Below, ads will not show for queries in the opposite direction (Boston to NYC)

Phrase Match update, including broad match type (BMM) traffic
Source: Google

Below are more examples to illustrate how matching behavior will change after this update: 

Phrase match vs Broad Match Google Update Feb 2021

What You Have To Do ?

Although the decision to sunset the very popular broad match modifier, shows how confident Google is about the future match between Search Ads and users’ queries, there are some actions you should take into account.

Here is an overview below for both match types:

Phrase match keywords To Do’s:

  • Review your negative keywords: Because Exact Phrase keywords will cover more searches, you might want to examine your negative keywords to avoid appearing on queries that you don’t want to cover.
  • Revise campaign budgets: If you divide campaigns by match type and have specific campaigns for Phrase Match, consider reviewing the budgets for those campaigns as they will now have more coverage.
  • Adjust bid strategies: Likewise, consider adjusting the targets and parameters of your phrase match bidding strategies to be closest to those of your BMM strategies, as they will start to increase in volume for these types of correspondence.
  • Create Alerts to Track Spend Increases: If you are currently bidding on Exact Phrase keywords, consider setting up an alert to track keywords with large variations in traffic (Impressions / Clicks), as they may reveal negative keyword opportunities or expansion.
  • Monitor Cost Per Click: As a good part of advertisers will start to add more phrase match keyword, the competition and thus the cost per click could well increase ! Reviewing negative keywords and delivering quality ads is therefore essential to improve your Click Through Rate (CTR) and your overall performance.
  • Examine Dynamic Keyword Insertion: Dynamic Keyword Insertion allows you to insert the user’s query into your ad copy, which typically results in a higher CTR and a better quality score. As you adjust to the new phrase match and likely add new negative keywords, consider whether you want dynamic keyword insertion creatives to be live.

Broad match keywords To Do’s

Google announced that Broad Match Modified keywords will continue to serve, even after July. But as said above the creation of new Broad Match Modified keywords will no longer be possible after July.

As for Phrase, there are a couple of things you should consider:

  • Create alerts: set up alerts to track volume decrease on BMM keywords. This will help you identify where the new correspondence is impacting your spending and act accordingly.
  • Start adding exact phrase keywords: your BMM keywords will continue to run, but may result in fewer queries. Thus, consider adding new keywords as phrase to maintain volume

Should you convert your BMM keywords to phrase match?

As existing BMM keywords will continue to work, converting them will have no performance benefit.

After the rollout completes in April 2021, you may want to convert your BMM keywords to phrase match. Google will launch additional tools – throughout the year to more easily convert BMM keywords.

In addition, to help you remove BMM keywords and duplicate phrases, Google will begin to provide recommendations to help you remove redundant BMM keywords in the same ad group where the keyword is already present as a phrase.

Phrase Match: Google wants to proceed gradually

Google has communicated on the periods when these changes will be effective:

  • Mid-February until April: the changes announced for broad and phrase match types will take effect during this period. Google indicates that only a few languages will be affected: French, English, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.
  • June – July: all languages will be affected by the new operation of both matchs type announced.
  • From July: It will no longer be possible to add new broad modified keywords. Note that already existing modified broad keywords will not be deleted from accounts.

Additional keyword changes

Until now, broad type match has generally been neglected by paid search experts since it resulted in ads showing on queries that were sometimes too far from the initial keyword.

To overcome this problem, Google has added additional signals to trigger the display of an ad on a broad keyword: landing page content, ad group keywords … This new criterion should therefore allow a better consistency between the user’s query and the ad that will be served.

The aim is to improve the relevance of this correspondence and thus limit postings on inappropriate terms.

What’s next ?

Over the years, Google has removed control over keywords correspondence once offered, in exchange for the promise of more and better automation. This update is therefore in the continuity of these changes.

The significant number of changes concerning the match types happened lately gives us an idea of what is next. Probably all this correspondence will disappear to make room for only one match type! We could also think that Google will achieve a “no keyword needed” environment .. one day.

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