In short: Google removes broad match modified (BMM) keyword type in favour of expanding phrase match’s ability to match against more search terms.
In February 2021, Google announced their latest changes to the way user searches will match against the keywords in your account, a change that will likely have passed many advertisers by.
The more eagle-eyed of advertisers will have already noticed changes to the complexion of their search query reports over the last couple of years, alongside encouragement from Google to remove similar keywords that have become redundant due to keywords’ increased potential for matching to search terms.
So, this change isn’t exactly without precedent. It follows the general trend of Google relying more heavily on automation and its marketing AI to deliver increased performance with less manual input from the advertiser.
Google has confirmed that they are now leveraging their AI to match your keywords with “searches that include the same or more specific meaning as your keyword”. So really this shift is a case of the algorithm focusing on delivering on the same keyword ‘context’ even when the keyword ‘content’ is different.
As a reported 15% of searches every day in Google are completely novel and have never been searched before, this is no bad thing.
What does this look like in practise?
The example Google provides is:
“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 broad match modifier, such as ‘NYC corporate moving services to Boston’.”
However, crucially, the keyword “moving services Boston to NYC” will not be triggered as the algorithm is aware of the context of the original keyword.
What does this mean for advertisers?
The impact of the change will see your BMM keywords likely record a decline in performance and traffic, so don’t be alarmed if your best-performing BMM keywords suddenly see their numbers go south.
Whilst you may have lost your MVP BMM keyword (you know the one), your phrase match keywords will be stepping up to fill the position and matching against the search terms previously triggering your BMM keywords.
This also means that the search terms matching your phrase match keywords may not follow the phrasing itself, so you can expect your phrase match keywords to bring through a bigger variety of search terms in the future.
The change ushers in a continuation of the rise of automation in Google Ads and from a practical sense means you can finesse campaigns by using a smaller number of keywords with fewer iterations of similar keywords with only small differences between them (think; “running training shoes” vs “trainers for running”).
From a campaign build and optimisation perspective, this means that you can now focus on adding to your keyword lists using just broad match, phrase match and exact match, plus needing fewer keywords overall to match against the same volume of search terms.
A tip from us to you
The change has been rolled out since February 2021, and as with all marketing automation it will be key to track the impact and make sure it is working for you – nothing works perfectly off the bat. Keep a closer eye than usual on your search query report and the search terms you’re matching against to make sure there are no nasty surprises waiting for you.