Since 2014, Google has been adjusting how it interprets user queries. It allowed for variants and misspellings, omitted the need for prepositions, and can now even recognize similarities between a variety of terms. Now, in February 2021, Google is changing again.
Before diving into the most recent change, let’s touch on some important terms as defined by Google:
Broad Match: A keyword option that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword or variations of it, as well as other related topics. This is the default match type and has the widest audience.
Modified Broad Match (BMM): Matches user searches with all the keyword terms designated with a “+” sign (or close variations of those terms) in any order. Close variations include terms with the same meaning. Additional words may appear before, after, or between the terms.
Phrase Match: Matches user searches with the keyword phrase (or close variations of the phrase) with additional words before or after. Close variations include terms with the same meaning.
Exact Match: A keyword setting that allows your ad to show only when someone searches for your keyword or close variants of your keyword. Of all the keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad.
A dive into the update.
Starting in mid-February, both phrase and broad match modifier keywords began using a new matching functionality being rolled out by Google. This new matching behavior covers keywords meeting requirements for both phrase and BMM match types, while still giving importance to word order. This change is to emphasize search intent.
Below is an example provided by Google. It shows how Google understands the user’s intent is to move to Boston from NYC, not the other way around. Plus, it covers both BMM and phrase match behaviors.
By July, this new match type behavior will be rolled out internationally and advertisers will not be able to create any new BMM keywords.
Why is Google making this change?
Phrase match and modified broad match have frequently served the same purpose when it comes to searcher intent. Therefore, as phrased by Google, they’re “bringing the best of broad match modifier into phrase match.” Google’s aim with this update is to simplify match types, improve advertiser control and reach, and manage account keywords.
What if I have BMM and phrase match keywords set up in my account?
Any existing BMM and phrase match keywords will be viewed equally by Google. The keyword with the better Ad Rank will be the keyword that initiates the ad.
What will I need to do?
Right now, no urgent changes are needed. Any existing keywords in your campaigns that are set to BMM or phrase match won’t need to be changed since they will be viewed the same way by Google. However, prepare to no longer put new keywords in the BMM match type. Note that the performance data for the keywords will still remain in your account.
Also, if your campaigns or ad groups are bidding based on match types, you may need to keep an extra-close eye on the bids during this transition. Plus, keep an eye out for future updates from Google. They’ve hinted at presenting new features in Google Ads to help advertisers transition keywords out of the BMM match type.
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