Google Ads update alert — this one is a big deal! As of 2021, Google’s Broad Match Modifier (BMM) keyword match type will be fading out for good. But first, in case you’re not already familiar with this Matching term, let’s start by talking about what Keyword Match Types are.
Quick refresh: keywords are words or phrases that you target within your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns in order to get your ads to appear in results for a user search query. The match types are how Google lets you control how closely the keywords must match with the search query in order to show your ad in the results.
Understanding the differences between the keyword match types can help you control your budget allocation significantly, improve your click quality, and increase your conversion rates.
Here is a quick recap of the 4 traditional keyword match types offered by Google:
Exact match. This setting allows your ad to show only when the user’s search includes your keyword or close variations of it, for example, the syntax or order could be different, as long as the context or intent remains the same. It gives you more control over who it is going to be shown and can lead to higher conversion rates. It provides limited reach, but high relevance.
Sadly, the exact match is no longer just that, when Google rolled close variances out in 2018, advertisers saw a large influx of queries that were not as relevant as they were before, while costing substantially more.
Broad match. As its name suggests: this is a wider match type. In other words, it’s going to show your ad even with a larger variation to the original query. For example, singular and plural forms, synonyms, misspelling, derivations, related searches, and other terms or intent that search engines consider relevant to your ad.
So, how does Broad match perform? Your ad is going to spend more easily, get more impressions and with it, more traffic — but conversion rates might not be very high. In a few words, it provides the greatest reach, but less relevance.
Broad match modifier (merging with Phrase). This category was similar to Broad match, with a tweak to help generate a more refined search. Terms set to BMM could match any part of a search, with the possibility of more words to appear before or after the keywords designated with a “+” in front of them. With Google’s latest keyword match update, this keyword match type is going away, and merging with the Phrase match type.
Phrase match. In this selection, terms will only appear when the user queries include the keywords or phrases you selected in that order with close variance applied, but allowing other words either before or after the phrase.
When is it useful to select Phrase match? You might want to go for it when you need a more targeted audience. It is used to focus your ads on a specific product or a key service and also to focus on market niches in which you have not yet consolidated your presence. In essence, it gives good reach as well as relevance. We fully expect a similar experience when Google rolls in BMM to this match type, with an influx of irrelevant queries.
So, what exactly is happening with the broad match modifier? Google is saying that it wants to allow greater reach, and as broad and phrase match types had similar matching behavior, Google combined characteristics from both types to show ads from searches that include the meaning of your keyword considering word order when relevant to the context. While it may seem like a win-win, Google is a for profit company and most of these changes are driven to improve profits, not improve the quality of terms you show for.
This merge could provide more control and with lower intent; however, more management and motoring may be necessary to exclude irrelevant search terms with the new Phrase match type. For example, where the keyword “moving services NYC to Boston” set to Phrase match will continue including descriptive words before or after the phrase such as “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” with the difference that Phrase match won’t show ads for searches where the direction is reversed, for example, “Boston to New York City”.
With proper management and know-how, this update may represent an upside by providing more control with proper planning leading to the continued success of your SEM campaigns.
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