Making it easier to reach the right customers on Search

February 4, 2021

At the heart of Google Ads is our ability to connect businesses with the people who are looking for what they have to offer. Whether they’re searching for “takeout restaurants”—which have grown more than 5,000% year over year1—or something Google has never seen before—which makes up 15% of queries every day2—people expect to find the products and services they’re looking for.

Over the years, we’ve improved our understanding of intent to make it easier for you to reach your customers. For example, your keywords can now match to the meaning of a search, and broad match is now more effective at driving performance–especially when paired with Smart Bidding. With these improvements, 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.

That’s why, starting in two weeks, we're rolling out changes to phrase match and broad match modifier that make it easier for you to reach your customers, no matter how they’re searching.

Simplifying match types

Today, you’re able to reach people with the following keyword match types:

  • Exact match for precision
  • Broad match for reach
  • Phrase match and broad match modifier for a balance of both

To give you more control and better reach, we’re bringing the best of broad match modifier into phrase match. As a result, phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, while continuing to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning. This makes it easier to reach customers and manage keywords in your account.

With these improvements, you can reach the searches you want just by using phrase match—without worrying about the searches you don’t want. Let’s say you’re a moving company that wants to reach people interested in moving out of New York City. With the updated phrase match, you can reach people looking to move from NYC to Boston, for example, without showing up for people looking to move from Boston to NYC.

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

This change also helps you to streamline keyword management and save time. As Ian Taylor, SEM Manager at Wayfair says, “this simplification makes it easier for us to manage our accounts, as these two match types cover a lot of the same use cases today. This gives us more time to focus on larger business objectives, like helping our customers find what they need to build the home they love.”

Below are more examples to illustrate how matching behavior will change after this update:

Broad match modifier keyword

Queries that will no longer match after the update

+resume +services

what are some customer service skills to put on a resume

+best +sneakers

best prices on sneakers for toddler

+used +printers

companies that used daisy wheel printers

Phrase match keyword

Queries that will match after the update

“holidays in zambia”

holiday spots in zambia

“long sleeve dress”

long sleeve lace dress

“womens boots”

new womens size 37 boot

What’s happening to broad match modifier?

We’re phasing out support for broad match modifier. We understand that these changes can mean different things to different businesses, and we want to help minimize any disruption. That’s why we’re rolling these changes out slowly over several months:

  • Starting mid-February, both phrase match and broad match modifier keywords will begin to transition to this new matching behavior.3 Because this behavior will be applied to both match types, you won’t have to take any immediate action—you’ll keep your performance data and have no need to migrate your keywords.
  • In July, once the new behavior has been rolled out globally, you’ll no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. However, existing broad match modifier keywords will continue to serve under the new behavior. That’s why starting now, we recommend creating new keywords in phrase match going forward.

Throughout the year, we’ll be notifying you as these changes roll out. To learn more about this change, please visit the Google Ads Help Center.

Setting up your campaigns for success

To help you make the most out of these upcoming changes, we suggest the following best practices:

  • Monitor performance and shift budgets where necessary: Traffic may fluctuate due to these changes, so make adjustments as needed.
  • Regularly check your Recommendations page: "Add new keywords” helps you maintain keyword coverage, and “Remove redundant keywords” helps you consolidate duplicate keywords.
  • Consider using broad match with Smart Bidding: If you’re concerned about losing coverage, broad match with Smart Bidding helps you reach more relevant searches that meet your performance objectives.
  • Continue to use negative keywords: Exclude matches you don’t want with negative keywords. Note that this update does not impact your negative keywords.

Additional keyword improvements

Over the past year, we’ve also been continuously improving our other match types. Based on your feedback, we’ve made updates to keywords that make it easier for you to balance reach, relevance, and performance.

To start, broad match now looks at additional signals in your account to deliver more relevant searches. When paired with Smart Bidding, these broad match signals–which include landing pages, keywords in your ad group, and more–can help you unlock new opportunities for your business.

Online food delivery service Just Eat tested this combination and said “we’ve been surprised by the results of using broad match with Smart Bidding. We saw a 127% increase in conversions while hitting our goals.”

In addition, keyword matching is now more predictable: an exact match keyword that is identical to a query is now always preferred as long as it’s eligible to match.4 This gives you more control over which keyword matches to a search, and can help reduce account complexity. Learn more about how a keyword is selected in the Google Ads Help Center.

Posted by Clayton Jones, Group Product Manager, Google Ads

1. Google Data, Global English, Jun 17, 2020 - Aug 15, 2020 vs Jun 17, 2019 - Aug 15, 2019
2. Google Data, July 2019

3. Rollout will affect English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian first. Visit the Google Ads Help Center for a timeline of all languages.
4. Identical queries account for spelling corrections. Reasons a keyword may not be eligible include being budget constrained, being marked “low search volume”, disapproved creatives, or other criteria are not satisfied (such as device or location).

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