Changes are coming to Google’s phrase match and broad match modifier keyword match types, the company announced on the 4th of February. Phrase match will expand to include additional broad match modifier traffic and support for broad match modifier will end. The changes will start rolling out in two weeks.
How phrase match will change
Currently, an advertiser using broad match modifier for the keywords +moving +services +NYC +to +Boston may show up for the search query “moving services NYC to Boston.” However, the ad may also display when someone searches “moving services Boston to NYC,” which may not be what the advertiser wants because the searcher is moving in the opposite direction.
In the example below, the updated phrase match will not show ads for search queries in the opposite direction.
The updated phrase match will continue to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning, the announcement reads. Google also provided the following examples to demonstrate how matching behavior will change after this update:
“We’ve 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,” Google said.
Broad match modifier is on its way out
Both phrase match and broad match modifier have started the transition to the new matching behavior, this started mid-February. Because the change is happening to both match types, there’s no need to migrate keywords and advertisers will get to keep their performance data.
In July, after the new behavior has rolled out worldwide, advertisers will not be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. Existing broad match modifiers keywords will serve under the new behavior.
Additional keyword changes
“Broad match now looks at additional signals in your account to deliver more relevant searches,” Google also announced. These signals include landing pages and keywords in your ad group.
And, keyword matching is now more predictable. An exact match keyword that is identical to the query will always take priority as long as it’s eligible to match.
A brief history of keyword match type changes
- 2014: Google ended support for the “pure” exact match type when it started requiring all campaigns to use close variants. At the time, close variants included plurals, misspellings and other variations of exact match and phrase match keywords.
- 2017: Word order and function words were added to close variants for exact match.
- 2018: Google began matching search terms that have the same intent as the given keyword when it added same-meaning words to exact match close variants. This included implied words and paraphrases.
- 2019: Same-meaning close variants were extended to phrase match and broad match modifiers.
Why we care
Over the years, Google has taken away the control that match types once offered, in exchange for the promise of more and better automation. In that regard, this update is no different, and simply another step in Google wish to fully automate everybodies campaigns.
The change could, potentially, save some time in managing keywords, but there is certain to be a lot of time spent recalibrating campaigns. Traffic may fluctuate as these changes roll out, so you should keep an eye on your campaign performance metrics and make the necessary adjustments. Even though some argue that there is little differentiation between broad match modifier and phrase match, we believe they’ll soon need to get used to not having the former and creating new keywords in the updated phrase match moving forward.