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Google Eliminates Broad Match Modified Keywords as Phrase Match Expands to Cover Traffic

Google has announced that they are eliminating broad match modified keywords and expanding the functionality of phrase match to incorporate BMM traffic.

The tech giant will still be respecting word order in a bid to avoid advertisers paying for irrelevant queries. These changes will begin to go into effect this week (February 2021).

From July 2021, advertisers will no longer be able to create new BMM keywords. Existing BMM keywords and phrase match keywords will functionally perform the same beginning in mid-February. This means any existing BMM keywords will likely see no change in performance, unless there is overlap with phrase match terms. Meanwhile, current phrase match keywords may see higher volumes of traffic as they expand to cover more queries.

Why the update?

Google’s reasoning behind this change is that as they have incorporated intent and other factors into the AI behind Google Search, phrase and broad match modified keywords have performed similarly and serve the same purpose. Bringing BMM traffic into phrase match terms presumably makes life simpler for marketers who now only have to consider exact or phrase matches when building out search campaigns.

What impact will it have on marketers and their advertising?

For big advertisers with larger marketing budgets, this change isn’t likely to impact spend significantly. Where spend isn’t as much of a concern, the focus should be on the shift in terms that drive traffic and conversions during this transition period to eliminate overlap or wasted spend.

For smaller marketers, it will be more important than ever to keep a close eye on search query reports as these changes roll out. Understanding what new terms are triggering your ads could have two-fold implications: on the positive side, marketers may find new queries that are related to but not previously included in their campaigns that are converting; these new queries may cost more than they return, however, especially for those whose budgets are tight.

Who will this change affect?

The first advertisers to see these changes will be those bidding on keywords in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. All other languages will see these changes roll out later in 2021.

What should you do about it?

If you are a search marketer curious about what steps you should take in the wake of this news, here's our advice:

First, pay close attention to your search terms reports. Continually update your negative keywords lists with irrelevant queries that may start to pop up based on these changes.

Audit your campaigns. Do you have ad groups broken out by match type? Pay attention to phrase match ad groups in the coming weeks. While you don’t need to pause all broad match modified ad groups or keywords immediately, use the data you see to tighten your phrase and exact match ad groups, as these will be more critical moving forward.

However, if you do see any overlap between BMM and phrase keywords in your account, consider pausing BMM keywords to eliminate competition with yourself where phrase match terms are winning.

As you build out new phrase match keywords in the future, pay close attention to word order, since Google has expanded phrase match’s reach but still does its best to honor the intent behind the query.


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