Reach more of the right customers with phrase match and broad match modifiers

July 31, 2019

There are trillions of searches on Google every year—people looking for everything from flights to gift ideas for the holidays. And though people are often searching for the same answers, the way they search for things is constantly changing. For example, 15% of searches we see every day are new.1

To help you reach more consumers without the need for exhaustive keyword lists, we started allowing exact match keywords to match to close variants late last year. 

In the coming weeks broad match modifier and phrase match keywords will also begin matching to words within the search query that share the same meaning as the keyword.2

On average, we expect advertisers using broad match modifier and phrase match keywords to see 3-4% more clicks and conversions on these keywords. And of those new clicks, 85% are expected to be net new on average—meaning they’re not covered by your existing keywords.

More, relevant traffic with broad match modifier

Broad match modifier keywords match to queries that include the same words as the keyword or their close variants. The matched words can be in any order, without requiring them to be next to each other. 

Broad match modifier close variants have historically only included misspellings, singular or plural, stemmings, abbreviations, and accents. Moving forward, close variants will also include words with the same meaning as the keyword.

Let’s say you’re a landscaper and use +lawn +mowing +service as your keyword. Previously, queries like “services to mow my lawn” or “lawn mowing and edging service” may have triggered your ads. Now, your ads can trigger when people search for things like “grass cutting and gardening services” or “rates for services that cut your grass.”

Broad match modifier keyword

Both of these new matches contain the same meaning as the original keyword, which is lawn mowing services.

More, relevant traffic with phrase match

Phrase match keywords allow your ads to show when the query includes your keyword or close variants of the exact phrase of your keyword, with additional words before or after. Like the update to broad match modifier keywords, this now includes queries that contain words that share the same meaning as the keyword. 

Phrase match keyword

For example, let’s say you’re that same landscaping company and use the phrase match keyword “lawn mowing service.” Previously, queries like “lawn mowing service prices” or “seasonal lawn mowing service rates” may have triggered your ads. In the coming weeks, your ads can trigger when people search for things like “grass cutting service near me” or “local lawn cutting services.” 

Maintain control and flexibility

With these updates, it’s important you maintain the control and flexibility your business requires. That’s why we’re also making a change to keyword selection preferences. If a query currently matches to an exact, phrase, or broad match modifier keyword that exists in your account, we’ll prevent that query from matching to a different phrase or broad match modifier keyword that’s now eligible for the same auction as a result of this update.

For example, let’s say you use the phrase keywords “lawn mowing service” and “grass cutting service.” If the query “lawn mowing service near me” currently matches with the keyword “lawn mowing service,” it will continue to match with that keyword. We will prevent the keyword “grass cutting service” from triggering an ad on the query “lawn mowing service near me,” even though “grass cutting service” is now eligible to match to the query.

To get the most out of these upcoming changes we recommend the following best practices:

  • Monitor performance: Traffic may fluctuate due to these changes, so make adjustments as needed—like changing bids or pausing keywords.
  • Consider negative keywords: Periodically check the search terms report and use negative keywords to exclude matches you don’t want. Note that this update does not impact your negative keywords, which do not match to close variants.
  • Deploy Smart Bidding: Using Google’s machine learning technology, Smart Bidding optimizes your bids in real time for every auction. In fact, it will lower bids in auctions where your ads are less relevant or aren’t expected to perform well.

To learn more about keyword matching options, visit the Google Ads Help Center.

Posted by Brandon Ervin, Product Manager, Google Ads


Google internal data, May 2019.

This change will rollout in English in the coming weeks, with more languages to follow through 2020.

While we do our best to match existing traffic to your keywords, there may be infrequent instances where this will not be the case. For example, if a campaign is budget constrained it may not be eligible to show on all queries.

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