About changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

In February 2021, Google Ads began to incorporate behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) into phrase match. In July 2021, both phrase and broad match modifier keywords will have the same updated phrase matching behavior for all languages, and will show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.

  • As of April 2021, the updated phrase match behavior is available in the following languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian
  • Starting in June, the updated phrase match behavior will begin rolling out to all languages, completing in July 2021

You won’t need to take any specific action for your phrase match or BMM keywords in order to see these changes. For more information on this change, read the official announcement post about the new behavior.

Note: The changes to phrase match and BMM will not impact exact match, broad match, and negative keyword match types. Learn more about keyword matching options and negative keywords.

Updated phrase match

The updated phrase match simplifies match types by combining the control of phrase match, and the expanded reach of broad match modifier. The new matching behavior will be more expansive than phrase match, but slightly more restrictive than BMM.

For example, the phrase match keyword “moving services NYC to Boston” will continue to cover searches like “affordable moving services NYC to Boston.” It will also cover searches that traditionally only matched under BMM, such as “NYC corporate moving services to Boston.” For the updated phrase match, word order continues to affect matching behavior and ads won’t show for searches where the wording changes the meaning of the match (for example, people looking to move from “Boston to New York City”).

About changes to phrase match and broad match modifier [Diagram]

Note: Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning.

Broad match modifier

Broad match modifier as a separate matching behavior will not be available. This change means that existing BMM keywords will behave exactly as if they were phrase keywords. Learn more about when this will affect your language

When the changes roll out to your language, existing BMM keywords will automatically take on the updated phrase matching behavior.

  • You do not need to add the same keywords in phrase match in order to continue serving.
  • In the past, it was possible to add the BMM modifier to a subset of the terms in a keyword, and the other terms would operate like a broad match. After this change, the entire keyword will behave as a phrase match.

You can continue to add keywords using the legacy BMM notation (+keyword) until July 2021.

  • In July 2021, we will prevent new keywords from being added using the legacy BMM notation.
  • After July 2021, legacy BMM keywords will continue to serve, they’ll just behave as if they were phrase keywords.
  • If you edit legacy BMM keywords after July 2021, you may be prompted to convert them to phrase match notation (“keyword”).

Recommended actions

  • Start using only exact, phrase, or broad match when adding any new keywords.
  • Monitor your traffic and add negative keywords if you wish to exclude certain queries. Learn more about negative keywords
  • Check your campaign budgets to make sure you aren’t budget-constrained as some phrase match keywords may see an increase in volume.
  • Review the “Add new keywords” recommendation to see if there are additional keywords you should add to maintain coverage. Because we’re tightening BMM’s reach, there may be some queries you’re no longer reaching using your existing keywords, and we’ve labeled these keywords in the list of recommended keywords. Learn more about recommendations
  • Consider converting your phrase and BMM keywords to broad match if you are using Smart Bidding. This will maximize your reach, while still respecting your performance goals.

Once the rollout is complete, Google will update the “Remove redundant keywords” recommendation to highlight redundant BMM keywords in the same ad group where the keyword is already present as phrase match.

Keep in mind: We recommend you to wait until the roll out is complete for your language before converting BMM keywords to the updated phrase match type. If you convert BMM keywords to phrase match before your language is rolled out, you could experience a temporary loss in volume.

When will this affect my language?

This change is currently rolled out to advertisers in the following languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. For these advertisers, BMM began fully serving with the updated phrase match behavior in April 2021. For all other Google Ads languages, the new matching behavior will begin rolling out at the beginning of June and complete in July 2021.

You won’t need to take any specific action for your phrase match or BMM keywords in order to see these changes.

Note: In July 2021, advertisers in all languages will no longer be able to create BMM keywords.

If you have further questions about this change, review the FAQs given below.

FAQs

How can I prepare for this change?

No action is required to prepare, but while the rollout is taking place for your language you should monitor your performance and update bids, budgets, and targeting as needed to adjust for any performance changes. Also note that changing BMM keywords to phrase match prior to the roll out could result in a temporary loss of traffic volume.

What can I expect to see with my phrase and BMM keyword traffic?

For your phrase keywords, it’s possible you might see an increase in traffic volumes. It is recommended that you closely monitor your search terms report and account performance.
For your BMM keywords, especially those using modifiers on some words but not all (for example +moving services), it’s possible you might see a decrease in traffic volumes.

How does this roll out affect phrase and broad match modifier definitions?

The updated phrase match has gone into effect for English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian languages as of April 2021.

  • Updated phrase match (and legacy broad match modifier): Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning.

For any language not mentioned above, phrase and broad match modifier keywords will continue to use the definitions below until the rollout begins in June. In July 2021 they will fully be using the updated phrase match definition.

  • Phrase match, former definition: 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.
  • Broad match modifier, former definition: 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.

Should I convert my BMM keywords to phrase match?

Your existing BMM keywords will continue to work and there are no performance benefits to converting your BMM keywords. We recommend you wait until after the updated phrase matching behavior has fully rolled out in your language to avoid temporarily losing volume.
If you choose to change your BMM keywords to phrase match (or any other match type), we have two solutions to help you convert your BMM keywords at scale.
Within Google Ads:
  1. In the page menu along the left, click Search Keywords.
  2. Select the keywords you want to change or you can use the checkbox at the top of the table to select all keywords.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. Navigate to the Change match types option.
  5. When you hover, you will see an option to Change broad match modifier keywords.
  6. Select Change broad match modifier keywords.
This solution will only apply the selected match type changes to BMM keywords.
Note: This option is expected to be available to all advertisers by the end of May.
Within Google Ads Editor, warnings will appear next to BMM keywords. Use the “Fix” prompt to update all selected BMM keywords to any match type.
Keep in mind: Whether using these solutions or converting manually, your BMM keywords’ performance statistics will not carry over to the new instances of keywords.

If I have the same keyword in phrase and BMM, should I delete the BMM version?

Deleting the BMM version of your keyword before the new matching behavior has fully launched in your language could cause you to temporarily lose volume. We recommend you to wait until the rollout is complete before removing any BMM instances.
To help you perform this cleanup, Google will update the “Remove redundant keywords” recommendation to highlight redundant BMM keywords in the same ad group where the keyword is already present as phrase match.

If I have both BMM and phrase keywords in my account, which will be preferred in the auction?

Even after this change, we won’t treat phrase match and legacy BMM keywords differently in terms of preference for the auction. Typically the keyword with the highest Ad Rank would be preferred for triggering an ad, however there are exceptions to the preferences. Learn more about similar keywords in a Google Ads account

What happens to my BMM keywords that use modifiers on some words but not others?

Broad match modifiers will no longer operate on just a subset of the words within the keyword. If you use a keyword such as +moving services, the operator will now apply to both words, similar to +moving +services or “moving services”. To help offset the decrease in traffic, the following actions are recommended:
  • Use a full broad match (for example, moving services) if you’re using Smart Bidding
  • Explore “Add new keywords” recommendations to see which keywords should be added to recover traffic volume

Will this impact my keyword Quality Score?

This change does not impact Quality Score. Learn more about Quality Score

How does this impact display/video keywords?

This update to the new phrase match behavior does not affect the matching behavior of display/video keywords.
  • On the Display Network, all keywords are considered broad match only.
  • Video, including YouTube search, only uses exact match, phrase match, broad match types. BMM is considered a broad match and therefore won’t be affected by this launch.

Similar to Search and starting in July 2021, advertisers will no longer be able to create keywords with BMM notation going forward. We recommend using phrase match for Video campaigns if your goal is to ensure that the meaning of the keyword is included in user searches.

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?

Need more help?

Sign in for additional support options to quickly solve your issue