About changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

The new phrase match behaviour is now rolled out to all languages. Phrase and broad match modifier keywords have the same updated phrase matching behaviour for all languages.

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

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

Note: These changes to phrase match and BMM don’t impact exact match, broad match or 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 the discontinued broad match modifier. The new phrase matching behaviour is more expansive than the former phrase match, and slightly more restrictive than the discontinued 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 behaviour 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 behaviour is no longer available. This change means that existing BMM keywords will behave exactly as if they were phrase keywords and you are no longer able to create new BMM keywords.

If you have legacy BMM keywords in your account:

  • Existing BMM keywords use the updated phrase matching behaviour.
  • You do not need to add the same keywords in phrase match 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. These partially modified keywords now behave entirely as a phrase match.
  • If you edit legacy BMM keyword text, your keyword will automatically convert to phrase match notation (“keyword”) upon saving.
  • You can still edit other attributes of your legacy BMM keywords, such as bids or status.

As of July 2021:

  • New keywords cannot be added using the legacy BMM notation (+keyword).
  • Legacy BMM keywords will continue to serve, but will behave as phrase match keywords.

Recommended actions

  • Check the “Remove redundant keywords” recommendation to highlight redundant BMM keywords in the same ad group where the keyword is already present as phrase match.
  • 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 that you’re no longer reaching using your existing keywords, and we’ve labelled 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 maximise your reach, while still respecting your performance goals.

FAQs

What happens to my phrase and BMM keyword traffic?

For your phrase keywords, it’s possible that 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.

Should I convert my BMM keywords to phrase match

Your existing BMM keywords will continue to work, and there are no performance benefits from converting your BMM keywords. If you choose to change your BMM keywords to phrase match (or any other match type), we have 2 solutions to help you convert your BMM keywords at scale.

Note: Whether using these solutions or converting manually, a new keyword in your desired match type will be created and the BMM keywords will be removed. The performance statistics from your former BMM keywords will not carry over to the new instances of keywords. You can view removed keyword performance statistics under the “Keywords” option in the page menu and then by changing the default keyword status filter from “All but removed” to “All”.

Within Google Ads:

  1. In the page menu on the left, click Search Keywords.
  2. Select the keywords you want to change or you can use the box 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 on Change match types, 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.

Animation demonstrating how to change broad match modifier keywords within the Google Ads user interface.

 

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.

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

To help you perform this cleanup, use 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?

We don’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, in a similar way to +moving +services or "moving services". To help offset the decrease in traffic, the following actions are recommended:

  • Use 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 behaviour does not affect the matching behaviour 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 and 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.

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