Google Ads update: broad match modified to be phased out.

Posted on
February 4, 2021
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Modified broad match keywords are to be phased out in Google ads, with Phrase match keywords to take the limelight moving forward. But how does this impact PPC advertisers?

Google sent an email informing users of today’s change. In traditional Google style, the email didn’t make a ton of sense to the everyday digital marketer. So I wanted to add some context to the email and look to explain the positive and negative effects it may have on your PPC advertising.

What is a broad match keyword?

When you create an ad on Google Ads, you can select certain keywords or phrases that are then used to match any terms people may be searching for online. You can ask Google to only bid for the auction for you to get a top position in an ad auction, depending on how closely the keywords you want to bid on, match with the user’s query.

Broad match keywords do what they say on the tin. They serve a broad audience. So if you wanted to big broadly on the term ‘shoes’ you may see more opportunity and a larger audience, but you could also end up wasting a lot of your budget and getting in front of the wrong type of audience. Broad match keywords work great for any businesses looking to focus in niche areas, or in highly competitive industries. 

What is a phrase match keyword?

Phrase match keywords will only show on searches that include the actual meaning of the word you are bidding on. Phrase match keywords allow more flexibility than bidding on an exact match keyword, as they fit into wider context about the users intent or query. Unlike broad match, phrase match offers a higher chance of click-through on an ad using phrase match, as it matches the users search intent.

What are the changes to Phrase match and Broad match modified in Google Ads?

Phrase match keywords will begin to encompass users search terms that would previously have only been attributed to broad match modified keywords.

They have, however, informed us that word order will still be important. Google will continue to show users ads that make sense and offer the most value to users.

Advertisers don’t currently have any obligation to change anything, but the change will begin to take effect in a couple of weeks. The sunset of modified broad match keywords is by July 2021.

What does the Google Ads update mean?

In a nutshell, advertisers should begin to utilise Phrase match keywords over BMM moving forward. Although modified broad match keywords are to be redundant by July, Google has stated that “your existing Broad Match Modifier keywords will continue to work”.

How does the change to Phrase match work?

To provide context, an example would be as follows:

Using a phrase match keyword of: “nike football boots” is now likely to encompass searches such as:

  • nike size 10 football boots
  • nike phantom football boots in green


How could this change impact businesses?

Advertisers will need to keep a close eye on their impressions and clicks in the coming weeks, specifically, those of their broad match modified keywords.

Search Engine Journal states “When taken in a larger context, Google has been moving for years to get advertisers away from fixating on the keyword level of search. While it might seem counterintuitive given the history of search, persona-driven targeting and search themes are where Google wants advertisers to focus.”

Looking to find out how phrase match keywords could benefit your PPC strategy? Get in touch with our specialists today!