Google Ads Update: Matching Behaviour of Phrase and Broad Match Modified (BMM) Keywords

Starting on February 18th, phrase and BMM keywords will begin to match the same user searches. With this updated matching behaviour, ads may show on searches that include the same, or more specific meaning, as your keyword. This can lead to an increase in traffic on any phrase match keywords and a slight decrease in traffic on any BMM keywords.


To simplify keyword match types, this new phrase match will fully replace BMM by July. Your existing BMM keywords will continue to work, and you can use phrase match keywords for new keywords you would have previously added as BMM.


At the heart of Google Ads is the ability to connect businesses with the people who are looking for what they have to offer. Whether they’re searching for “takeout restaurants”—which have grown more than 5,000% year over year—or something Google has never seen before—which makes up 15% of queries every day—people expect to find the products and services they’re looking for.


Over the years, Google have improved their understanding of intent to make it easier for you to reach your customers. For example, keywords can now match to the meaning of a search, and broad match is now more effective at driving performance–especially when paired with Smart Bidding. With these improvements, it has been seen that phrase match and broad match modifier often serve the same use cases, and that you can reach more of the right customers through a combination of the two.


That’s why Google are rolling out these changes to phrase match and broad match modifier that make it easier for you to reach your customers, no matter how they’re searching.


Simplifying match types

Today, we’re able to reach people with the following keyword match types:

  • Exact match for precision

  • Broad match for reach

  • Phrase match and broad match modifier for a balance of both

To give more control and better reach, Google are bringing the best of broad match modifier into phrase match. As a result, phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, while continuing to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning. This makes it easier to reach customers and manage keywords.


With these improvements, we can reach the searches we want just by using phrase match—without worrying about the searches we don’t want. Let’s say you’re a moving company that wants to reach people interested in moving out of Dublin. With the updated phrase match, you can reach people looking to move from Dublin to Galway, for example, without showing up for people looking to move from Galway to Dublin. This change helps us to streamline keyword management and save time.


What’s happening to broad match modifier?

Google are phasing out support for broad match modifier slowly over several months. In July, once the new behaviour has been rolled out globally, you’ll no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. However, existing broad match modifier keywords will continue to serve under the new behaviour. That’s why starting now, we're creating new keywords in phrase match going forward.

Throughout the year, we’ll be keeping an eye on these changes as they are rolled out.


Setting up campaigns for success

To help make the most out of these upcoming changes, Google suggest the following best practices:

  • Monitor performance and shift budgets where necessary: Traffic may fluctuate due to these changes, so make adjustments as needed.

  • Regularly check your Recommendations page: "Add new keywords” helps you maintain keyword coverage, and “Remove redundant keywords” helps you consolidate duplicate keywords.

  • Consider using broad match with Smart Bidding: If you’re concerned about losing coverage, broad match with Smart Bidding helps you reach more relevant searches that meet your performance objectives.

  • Continue to use negative keywords: Exclude matches you don’t want with negative keywords. Note that this update does not impact your negative keywords.

For more info, click here to visit Google Support directly.


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