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February 15, 2021

Google Ads Broad Match Modifier (BMM) Is On Its Way Out & How Phrase Match Will Change

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Google Ads


Google has always been one step ahead when it comes to making self-serve online advertising easy, effective, and efficient. Right from the launch of Google Ads (Adwords back then) on October 23, 2000, internet marketers have seen the advertising platform undergo many changes to fit the user’s latest needs.


So it comes as no surprise that Google has announced a number of feature changes and addons since the new year, of which the most talked about one pertains to phrase match and broad match modifiers in the keyword planner.


On February 4th, 2021, Google announced that they are bringing the behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) into phrase match and phase out support for BMM. This change is meant to simplify the keyword portfolio and help advertisers reach more relevant user searches, thereby improving the efficiency of the search ads. This gradual rollout will change the back end processing for keyword match types to show ads that are most relevant for a particular search.


Before we dive into more details on what to expect from this change, here is a recap on keyword modifiers-


Understanding keyword modifiers 


Keywords are pivotal to Google Ads. These are words or phrases that are used to match the ads with terms users search for on the search engine. To ensure that relevant ads are shown for every user search, keyword match types are used. The keyword match type determines how closely your chosen keyword needs to match with a user’s search query for your ad to be considered for the auction. 


Currently, there are 3 types of keyword match types-


Broad match

Using this will make your ad show up for searches that relate to your keyword. Generally, no notations are used to represent this. Eg: Keyword


Phrase match

Using phrase match will allow your ad to show up for queries that include the meaning of your chosen keyword. The notation used for inputting keywords is the double quotation marks. Eg: “Keyword”


Exact match

Exact match allows ads to appear only for those searches using the meaning as your keyword. The notation used for inputting keywords is the square brackets. Eg: [keyword]


So, what exactly are keyword modifiers?


Keyword modifiers are extra words that users use in their search query to get the most relevant results. So by using the keyword modifiers, you can control your ad visibility for specific or broad search terms.


Broad match modifiers


Digital marketers use broad match modifiers so that ads may show for all searches that are related to your keyword. This is usually preferred when you want to reach a wider audience and attract more visitors to your website without taking too much time on building keyword lists.


For instance, imagine that you are running an ad for your easy vegan recipes website with a broad match modifier. In that case, your ad may appear for queries like “easy cooking recipes”, “lockdown cooking recipes” or “healthy cooking recipes”.


This match type works well with Smart Bidding where the system sets a bid for each auction of each query by bidding up or down based on how well the query is likely to perform.


Phase match modifiers


Including phase match modifiers in your keyword list will make your ads show up on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. A phrase match is more targeted than a broad match but still less flexible than an exact match. Going by our previous example, the ad for your easy vegan recipes will now appear for searches like “French vegan recipes”, “cooking vegan recipes” or “easy vegan recipes to make at home”.


Exact match modifiers


As the name suggests, ads appear only for queries that have the exact meaning or intent of your chosen keyword. So if you optimize your ad’s keyword list with an exact match modifier for the above example, your website’s ad will appear for searches like “easy vegan recipes ”, “vegan recipes” or “easy recipes for vegans”.


What happens now?


With the new change in keyword modifiers, Google expects the updated phrase match to have the best of both match types- the expanded reach offered by broad match modifier and the increased control offered by phrase match. Starting February 18th, Google is expected to roll out the updated phrase match for all of its first wave languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian).


The change is likely to affect all other Google Ads languages by July 2021, after which BMM will be completely phased out. From then on, advertisers will be prevented from creating new BMM keywords as the updated phrase match will include its features. This update, however, does not impact negative keyword match types.


Google explained the change with the help of the following example-


Currently, if an advertiser is using the broad match modifier for the keywords +moving +services +NYC +to +Boston, it may show up for the search query “moving services NYC to Boston” as well as “moving services Boston to NYC”. If the advertiser is based in NYC, the second query is irrelevant for them as the searcher is moving in the opposite direction. With the updated phrase match, the order of the words is important, which means that the ads will not be shown for user queries in the opposite direction.


Google Ads Agency | Talir Group

Source: Google Ads Help


With this change, there is a possibility that advertisers may see an increase in the traffic volume for phrase match keywords, while a decrease may be noted for BMM keywords, especially those using modifiers on some words. To avoid losing your traffic, Google recommends the following steps-


  • Add additional phrase match keywords relevant to your business
  • Pair smart bidding strategy with broad match keywords
  • Check out the “Add Keywords” recommendations and explore potential keywords to help recover traffic volume
  • Regularly monitor your keywords’ performance over time and see which search queries have decreased traffic volume. Add new phrase match keywords to bridge the gap where ever necessary.


What to expect?


Over the years, Google has offered or taken away the control offered by different match types to make the whole process better automated. Such changes have always helped digital marketing advertisers and marketers to save time managing keywords. However, expect some calibration in your ad campaigns to suit the change as traffic may fluctuate as these changes roll out. By closely monitoring performance metrics, necessary changes can be made to take ongoing campaigns forward by creating new keywords in the updated phrase match.


If you have queries regarding this change or other concerns regarding your ad’s performance, reach out to our digital marketing agency in Dubai. Our Google Ads managers can analyze your ongoing campaigns and optimize them to adapt to the latest changes or set up new campaigns to ensure the continuity of your marketing efforts. Call our digital agency today to learn more.