Google’s match type update – and what it means for advertisers

As announced by Google last week, starting from 18th February 2021, and rolling out market by market, Google will merge BMM (broad match modifier) match types into phrase. From July, you will no longer be able to create new BMM keywords, but existing BMM keywords will continue to serve under the new change.

There is already significant overlap between the two match types and this merge finds the sweet spot between both.

Our thoughts

The change makes sense. Over the last few years Google has been working on simplifying account management and directing advertisers to automated bidding.

Looking back, having effectively four match types, including needing to add “+” symbols before words within a keyword to identify them as a broad match modifier and not just broad, is over complicated and outdated. As Account Managers, we use match types for two reasons: to find volume or to find efficiency.

This new change makes it more straightforward for advertisers, especially new non-specialised advertisers, to achieve either one of those goals with less room for error.

What about negative keywords?

If you’re like us, you will frequently use phrase as your match type choice when adding negatives to exclude themes of keywords that you never want to be associated with and spend money on.

Google has stated: “this update does not impact your negative keywords”.

Should we expect changes in volume?

To play it safe, I would say yes, expect changes in volumes. If you’re using predominantly phrase match types then, as the diagram above shows, you should expect additional broader searches. If like us you favour BMM over phrase, then you can possibly expect a small drop in volume. However, having DSA active in your accounts could act as a net which catches any search queries that may fall into through this gap.

Stay close to average traffic volumes per day as we head into March. Furthermore monitor not just the amount of traffic, but also the amount of unique search queries coming through your phrase and BMM keywords over the next few weeks.

Is this giving us more or less control?

It’s important to note that an emphasis has been placed on keyword order, which BMM didn’t previously take into account. This is mainly positive, as it allows advertisers to have increased control over order-sensitive keywords such as flights from x to y but not y to x. This results in more control, but as Account Managers we will now have to consider this when creating keywords and their variations.

Additional keyword improvements

Match type priority & cross match negatives

Google has improved keyword matching. Exact match types will “always be preferred” over other match types matching to the same query, where previously we would have to implement cross match negatives to ensure we prioritise traffic through exact keywords over BMM keywords.

However, we would strongly recommend continuing with the cross match negative strategy until further testing has been complete and we’re more confident to trust in this new approach.

Broad match type

So, what about the other match type, broad? Google has updated broad match to work more effectively, this includes broad match now looking at additional signals in your account to deliver more relevant searches. Now is a great time to test broad keywords to understand if they can drive incremental volume.

If you’re still wondering how best to respond to this latest update, or are simply looking for some PPC advice, drop us a note.

by Conor Kingscott
11 February 2021



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