Google is Ending Broad Match Modifier Keywords: What You Need to Know

We’re all familiar with the behemoth that is Google. In order to stay that way, Google is continuously modifying its structure and policies in terms of search, business offerings and advertising.

On the subject of advertising, Google has recently announced a change that will affect Google Ads: Phasing out Broad Match Modifier (BMM) keywords.

What is changing?

Digital advertisers – up to this point – have worked with four keyword match types. Exact match, phrase match, broad match and negative match.

To understand better what’s changing, let’s review what Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match keywords are.

For Broad Match keywords, ads target searches that are related to the keywords you’ve selected. But, they don’t necessarily have all the elements of the keyword. For example, Sydney beach hotels may show up for searches like cheap hotels in Sydney or motels in Sydney.

Using Broad Match Modifier or BMM keywords means (or used to mean) adding a “+” before a specific word in the keyword. This signals which words must be included in the search term. For example, +cheap +hotels +Sydney keywords would serve ads for searches like cheap beach hotels near Sydney or cheap hotels for families in Sydney.

In phrase match, your ad gets triggered for close variants of an exact keyword phrase. So, inputting the phrase “rental car” would have your ad appear for Google queries like book a rental car or rental car companies.

In short, the change is that Broad Match Modifier keywords will cease to exist and will be absorbed by Phrase Match. This means that Phrase Match will expand to include traffic from what was formerly a BMM area.

Google’s algorithm will then help advertisers determine whether the keyword phrase word order is important by considering search intent.

google digital marketers

How does this impact your business?

Google’s long-term goal is to simplify the keyword selection process. This saves advertisers time in reaching their target customers on Search. In the short term, advertisers will need to adjust their current PPC ad campaign structure.

The update means different things depending on which keyword match type you’re currently using. If you’re using mainly Phrase Match, you can expect to see an increase in clicks due to the increased number of queries that these type of keywords will qualify to match. If you’re using mostly BMM, you can expect a drop in traffic and conversions because some matches will be filtered out under the new structure.

Be aware that your paid traffic may fluctuate during the initial transitional period, so advertisers need to keep close track of their performance metrics and be prepared to make adjustments as needed.

Google is giving paid search advertisers some time for the adjustment. But not too much. If you want to keep BMM keywords, you can only do so until July 2021, when Google plans to launch the change globally. At that time, you won’t be able to add more BMM keywords to any accounts or campaigns. Any existing ones will still work – but will match according to the new structure.

paid search ad campaign report

What should you do to prepare?

Start now! To avoid the last-minute scramble, begin preparing and revising your account well before July. By adjusting to Phrase Match in the coming months, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected issues. You’ll have more breathing room to focus on refining your ad strategy as you see the actual effects of Google’s changes.

It’s advised that all advertisers monitor their search term reports and the recommendations section of their accounts to clean up any duplicate keywords. This will tidy up your campaigns and save you time in the long run. However, all campaign performance data should stay untouched throughout the transition.

Analyze all your accounts and determine how all your keywords can be optimised for Phrase Match or Exact Match. Combine your current expertise with Google’s automated strategies to set yourself up for success as you transition away from BMM.

Prepare yourself and your team to be agile with budget allocation. If your budget is determined by match types, or drilled down by campaigns or ad group, you’ll likely have to implement some changes. Keep a close eye on KPIs and be ready to quickly adjust accordingly until the new update settles in.

Is this good news or bad news for advertisers?

Google claims that this Google Ads update is being implemented for the advertiser’s benefit – to give advertisers “more control” and “better reach”. If this is the case, then it’s good news for paid search marketers. But, if it doesn’t, we might be dealing with adverse effects that aren’t fully understood yet.

Just remember this: change is disruptive at first, but is also inevitable. Undoubtedly, businesses that have a dedicated team of experts in place to manage campaigns and closely monitor these changes are in the best position to weather the potential storm. 

Our performance media specialists here at First Page will be working diligently to review every account and noting how many BMM keywords are currently in place before evaluating their role in Google Ad campaign traffic. The next step will be to study the BMM keywords and determine whether or not they need to be substituted with new Phrase Match keywords. To compensate for the potential decrease in clicks and conversions, BMM and Phrase Match ad groups will likely need to be restructured in many cases.

Have any concerns or questions about this Google update? We’ll be happy to help! Contact our digital marketing specialists today.