Google to Phase Out Broad Match Modifiers in Favor of Improved Phrase Match

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For nearly two years, Google Ads has employed three separate methods of matching user queries with ads and search engine results that meet the needs of the user. Exact match allows service of queries that precision match your targeted keywords, while broad match with modifiers (BMM) works to serve a wide variety of keywords and their close, modified cousins with similar meanings that may match your targeted intents. Phrase match serves ads to customers searching for your exact keywords, modified versions, and other associated words within the same phrase. All three match types must currently receive individual attention within Google Ads.

Changes to Google Match Types

Beginning February 15th, however, Google has announced that it will begin to transition match types to a new matching behavior. Perhaps even more importantly, by July 2021, the company will phase out the current iteration of broad match modifier. As a result, marketers will no longer be able to create broad match modifier keywords, though any existing BMM keywords and their data will migrate to the new system.

Moving forward, instead of utilizing two separate match types to increase reach beyond exact keyword matches, Google will roll many of BMM’s characteristics into phrase match. During the transition period, you’ll need to begin creating phrase match keywords instead of BMM keywords. Behind the scenes, phrase match will expand to include the use cases you were striving to achieve with BMM without incorporating those that are irrelevant to your business.

Broad Match Modifiers

In 2019 Google Ads rolled out broad match modifiers, an expansion of its ability to match potentially vague user queries to multiple different intents without an exact match. In simple terms, this means that a query entered by a user does not need to exactly match the keyword of a purchased ad—but only if Google understands (or thinks it understands) the broader meaning of the keyword. One of the rationales behind this change addresses the fact that approximately 15% of searches on the Google search engine are new. However, this statistic doesn’t necessarily reflect that all searches are unique.

Instead, people often search for the same things as those that have come before, but the phrases they use within the queries tend to change. Google broad match and BMM expanded on an idea it already had to interpret the user’s intent behind a particular query. At one time, matching simply accounted for incorrect spellings, singular and plural switches, and other various grammatical errors. For example, a search for “refridgerator unit sales and moving Minneapolis to KC,” although misspelled, would still produce search engine results for “refrigerator.”

With BMM and phrase match, a search for “refridgerator and repairs” would also return ads for residential refrigerator sales, refrigerator repairs, commercial refrigeration unit sales and repairs, and moving these items between Minneapolis and Kansas City.

Switch to Phrase Match to Streamline Keyword Management

Now, Google has incorporated BMM and phrase match together, capturing all the use cases your clients may intend when searching for products or services that match yours. At the same time, phrase match has become more targeted in an effort to eliminate undesirable matches once caused by BMM. Returning to the example above, new phrase matching will no longer reverse keywords when they matter, eliminating hits for ads that move commercial refrigerator units from Kansas City to Minneapolis or refrigerator sales in KC.

This effort to further refine matches should help Google Ads eliminate bad matches that erroneously insert or reverse keywords, inflating your ad spend, decreasing your ROI, and driving irrelevant traffic. The move also addresses the ever-lengthening lists of negative keywords marketers were forced to create to stop BMM from making irrelevant matches. Simplification of keyword management will take time, but by the end of BMM support in July, you should find that you have greater control with less behind-the-scenes work.

As changes occur, watch for more news and information to help you learn how to hone your phrase match management.

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