Google has announced that starting mid-February they will be incorporating elements of broad match modifier (BMM) keyword behaviour into phrase match keywords, with full global rollout expected by July.

What is changing?

Support is ending for our BMM keywords, which means we can no longer create keywords with a + in front of all the crucial elements, e.g., +ppc +agency +leeds. This tactic allowed us to discover new, relevant terms to bid on, whilst still making sure certain words were present in the search query so our ads were relevant. In their current form, phrase match keywords allow us to specify word order, e.g., “ppc agency leeds”, which means we can serve an ad to someone looking for ‘best ppc agency leeds’, because the order in our keyword matches the user’s search query.

However, the recent announcement from Google states that the new behaviour for phrase match will be as follows: “phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, while continuing to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning.” This means that under the new behaviour, our “ppc agency leeds” keyword may serve for someone looking for ‘ppc agency east leeds’, because it can now expand to cover additional traffic, and the word ‘east’ disrupting the word order does not disrupt the meaning.

Below are some further examples provided by Google to illustrate this new behaviour:

Why is this happening?

The move to cut down on the number of available match types coincides with Google’s recommendation to consolidate our PPC activity into fewer campaigns and ad groups and avoid over segmentation. In recent years Google has advanced its smart bidding capabilities, and since automation is at its most effective when dealing with bigger data sets, more traffic will be driven through a smaller number of keywords when BMM is sunset and phrase match expanded. This should help the algorithm make better decisions, as it has access to more data, but advertisers will have to monitor the effects of these changes closely to make sure they are setting their accounts up for success in this new landscape.

What should we do?

  1. Don’t create new BMM keywords in your accounts – they will be redundant before you know it.
  2. Export your keyword performance data and analyse how your phrase and BMM keywords are currently performing and try to gauge how the changes may affect you – for example, if you are quite reliant on BMM keywords, you might see your traffic decrease.
  3. Pause existing BMM keywords – they will soon have identical matching behaviour to phrase keywords so you don’t want to split your data across them both.
  4. Don’t pause a BMM keyword without checking you have a phrase match equivalent live – you might have previously paused a phrase match keyword if the BMM equivalent was outperforming it.
  5. Consider adding broad keywords or dynamic search ads to your account – this should help you discover new search queries, but make sure you are vigilant in adding irrelevant terms as negative keywords.
  6. Remember if you import a Google Ads campaign into Microsoft Advertising there will be no BMM keywords – as BMM is currently supported by Microsoft you may wish to add these keywords in

If you’re looking for an expert PPC agency who can help guide your paid strategy in an ever-changing digital landscape, then please get in touch today for a free account audit.

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