July 24, 2021

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Google expands phrase match to include broad match modifier traffic

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Changes are coming to Google’s phrase match and broad match modifier keyword match types, the company announced Thursday. Phrase match will expand to include additional broad match modifier traffic and support for broad match modifier will end. The changes will start rolling out in two weeks.

How phrase match will change. Currently, an advertiser using broad match modifier for the keywords +moving +services +NYC +to +Boston may show up for the search query “moving services NYC to Boston.” However, the ad may also display when someone searches “moving services Boston to NYC,” which may not be what the advertiser wants because the searcher is moving in the opposite direction.

In Google’s example below, the updated phrase match will not show ads for search queries in the opposite direction.

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Source: Google.

The updated phrase match will continue to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning, the announcement reads. Google also provided the following examples to demonstrate how matching behavior will change after this update:

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“We’ve seen that phrase match and broad match modifier often serve the same use cases, and that you can reach more of the right customers through a combination of the two,” Google said.
 
Broad match modifier is on its way out. Both phrase match and broad match modifier will transition to the new matching behavior beginning in mid-February. Because the change is happening to both match types, there’s no need to migrate keywords and advertisers will get to keep their performance data.

In July, after the new behavior has rolled out worldwide, advertisers will not be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. Existing broad match modifiers keywords will serve under the new behavior.

Additional keyword changes. “Broad match now looks at additional signals in your account to deliver more relevant searches,” Google also announced. These signals include landing pages and keywords in your ad group.

And, keyword matching is now more predictable. An exact match keyword that is identical to the query will always take priority as long as it’s eligible to match.

A brief history of keyword match type changes.

Why we care. Over the years, Google has taken away the control that match types once offered, in exchange for the promise of more and better automation. In that regard, this update is no different. 

The change could, potentially, save advertisers time managing keywords, but there is sure to be a lot of time spent recalibrating campaigns. Traffic may fluctuate as these changes roll out, so advertisers should keep an eye on their performance metrics so they can make the necessary adjustments. Even though some advertisers argue that there is little differentiation between broad match modifier and phrase match, they’ll soon need to get used to not having the former and creating new keywords in the updated phrase match moving forward.


About The Author

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George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and public school teacher.
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