About changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

Starting in February 2021, phrase match will begin to incorporate behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) to simplify keywords and make it easier to reach relevant customers. With this change, both phrase and broad match modifier keywords will have the same matching behavior, and may show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. This also means that the new matching behavior will consider word order when relevant to the meaning. 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 broad match modifier, such as “NYC corporate moving services to Boston.” Phrase match won’t show ads for searches where the direction is reversed (for example, people looking to move from “Boston to New York City”).

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

In July 2021, the creation of BMM keywords will no longer be available, but the same matching functionality will be available through phrase match. Existing BMM keywords will continue to serve using the new behavior. For more information on this change, read the official announcement post about the new behavior.

This change will become available to advertisers in the following languages first: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. For all other Google Ads languages, the new matching behavior will roll out later this year.

You won’t need to take any specific action for your phrase match or BMM keywords in order to see these changes. If you have further questions about the steps you can take, review the list of FAQs below.

Keep in mind: The changes to phrase match and BMM will not impact negative keyword match types. Learn more about negative keywords.

FAQs

What’s happening to BMM?

BMM keywords will continue to work using the new phrase matching behavior. 
  • During the transition, you will still be able to create BMM keywords using the BMM notation (+keyword). BMM keywords will behave the same as the updated phrase match using the quotation marks (“keyword”).Therefore, it’s recommended to only create phrase match keywords going forward. 
  • Broad match modifiers will no longer operate on a word 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”.
  • In July 2021, you’ll no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. However, your existing BMM keywords will continue to serve using the new matching behavior. 
  • You will still be able to edit your keyword bids and URL, however, if you try to edit the keyword text the keyword match type will be updated to phrase match. 

Since your BMM keywords will continue to work using the new phrase matching behavior, you will be able to keep all of your performance history and will not need to take any immediate action. Since phrase and BMM keywords will behave the same, you may find it easier to start using phrase match.

Keep in mind: Your existing BMM keywords will continue to work and there are no performance benefits to converting your BMM keywords. If you choose to convert your BMM keywords to phrase match, the BMM keywords’ performance statistics will not carry over to the new phrase instances of the keywords.

What can I expect to see with my phrase and BMM 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.

To avoid losing traffic volume, consider taking the following actions:

  • Add additional relevant phrase match keywords
  • Add broad match keywords paired with a Smart Bidding strategy
  • Explore “Add keywords” recommendations to recover traffic volume
  • Compare your BMM keywords’ performance over time to see which search queries show decreased traffic, and add new phrase match keywords where there are decreases

How can I prepare for this change?

While no action is required, 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 rollout could result in a loss of traffic volume. See the official announcement post for the full list of recommendations. 
When will this change take place for my language?

In February 2021, the new matching behavior will begin to roll out for both phrase and BMM keywords in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian.

The updated phrase match will go into effect for all remaining languages by July 2021. In the meantime, phrase and broad match modified keywords in these languages will continue to use the old definitions:

  • 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.
  • Broad match modifier: 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.

Will this impact my keyword Quality Score?

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

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

There is no difference in treatment between phrase and BMM keywords. 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 a word 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), especially if you’re using Smart Bidding
  • Add additional user searches through the search terms report
  • Explore “Add Keywords” recommendations and Keyword Planner to recover traffic volume

How can I convert my BMM keywords to phrase match?

Keep in mind: Your existing BMM keywords will continue to work and there are no performance benefits to converting your BMM keywords. If you choose to convert your BMM keywords to phrase match, the BMM keywords’ performance statistics will not carry over to the new phrase instances of the keywords.
Once the rollout is complete in April 2021, you may wish to convert your BMM keywords to phrase match. Additional tools will be launched to more easily convert BMM keywords throughout the year. To help you remove duplicate BMM and phrase keywords, Google will start to surface recommendations to help remove redundant BMM keywords in the same ad group where the keyword is already present as phrase match. 
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