Searching For The Perfect Match: Google Makes It Easier To Reach Customers With Phrase Match


If you’ve used Google Ads, chances are you’ve turned to broad match modifier keywords (BMM), which help with reach and performance, striking a “just right” balance between the keyword expansion of full broad match targeting and the restrictions surrounding the more-precise exact match targeting.

After years of key learnings of tactics for advertising success, Google announced this February that it would begin consolidating BMM into phrase match. 

The phasing out of BMM, which began in mid-February, goes global this July. Google’s news signals that the all-mighty search engine is moving one step away from keyword-based advertising and one step closer to intent-based advertising. 

Like all updates, the shift means different things to different businesses, and may even be viewed as disruptive by those who prefer manual account control over the automation Google is working toward. While Google assures businesses that the transition will help them reach their desired customers through the right combination of phrase match and BMM, it’s understandable you may have concerns and questions.

To help you prepare for July, MuteSix is here to save you a few searches on the topic and teach you everything you need to know about how to leverage phrase match for success. 

What Types of Keyword Matches Are There?

Before we jump into what Google has on the horizon, let’s break down what’s available today. Currently, consumers are able to discover businesses with the following three keyword match types:

1. Exact match for precision

2. BMM for reach

3. Phrase match and BMM for a balance of both

Come July, you’ll no longer be able to create new BMMs. However, existing ones will continue to serve under the new behavior.  

How Is Google Changing Keyword Match Types?

So what exactly is changing? Over the past couple of months, Google has already updated phrase match targeting to include the best of BMM behavior so as to “give you more control and better reach,” according to their February announcement. While phrase match will continue to honor word order as it has historically, it will now also capture searches that have intent similar to your phrase match keywords, even if the phrase in the search query doesn’t exactly match your phrase match keyword. 

For example, let’s say you’re selling Keto chips. If your phrase match was “organic keto chips,” Google would omit searches like “natural keto chips” even if your intent matched that keyword phrase. Under the updated phrase match, “organic keto chips” will be able to capture your search without needing to create a set of phrase match terms. Additionally, the updated phrase match will prevent an ad from showing in an irrelevant search.

Will This Change Impact Advertisers? 

Yes. Basically, the change will make it easier for businesses to enjoy more relevant search term coverage without wasting hours manually creating keywords for each specific search query. This move was preceded by a change in 2018 that led to exact match keywords adopting a slightly looser targeting approach due to intent.

Why is Google Changing Keyword Match?

As automation and search algorithms evolve, Google has progressively seen a shift from keyword-based results to intent-based results. For example, a consumer may search for “springs;” however, their intent may be for “car springs” (instead of door springs, natural springs, etc.). 

Using contextual factors like previous search history, interests, and other signals that Google has access to, advertisers can automatically match what searchers are searching for, thereby providing more value.

Additionally, with nearly 16-20% of searches being new every year, both marketers and Google have no choice but to continuously adapt to cover the ever-growing range of queries. By moving away from strict keyword targeting parameters, advertisers are able to capture (and monetize) the growing amount of unique searches that are queried every day.

For more context, in the last year, Google announced that it would be limiting Search Query Reports from displaying keyword searches with low volume, citing privacy around user data as the catalyst for this update. While privacy has become a growing concern recently thanks to Apple’s latest iOS update, we can also recognize that Google has also been progressively gearing up for something else: automation.

By removing low-impression keywords from the Search Query Report, Google is also free to test intent-based searches without interference. With this recent change in match types, Google (and advertisers) are shifting toward intent to capture new customers or leads. As we’ve seen from Dynamic Search Ads, this isn’t necessarily something to fear, as this can lead to new keywords to target and thus winning results.

How Can Your Business Embrace This and Future Changes?

Come July, advertisers will need to be able to adapt to these changes. But, how? For starters, the Google Ads experts at MuteSix can help your business expand its reach by following a few key tips, such as the following: 

1. Use negative keywords to exclude terms that are irrelevant to your business.

While some keyword control may be lost in the updated phrase match targeting, the use of negative keywords will continue to prevent your brand from appearing in irrelevant searches. By adding negative keywords early on in your marketing strategy and often, we’re able to prime our campaigns and bidding strategies for success.

2. Embrace automated bidding strategies to leverage Google’s Machine Learning.

Accounts that rely on automated bidding strategies will almost always outperform manual bidding strategies, so why not embrace it? Use automated bids to optimize your budget for maximum clicks, target CPA, target ROAS or impression shares, then let these strategies work their magic. Over time (and with proper care and maintenance), these tactics can help weed out low-intent keywords for you.

3. Remove redundant keywords from your campaigns.

As the lines between keyword match types continue to blur, consider removing redundant keywords. This not only makes campaign management easier, but it also reduces the amount of “split” learnings from keywords. For example, think of two keywords: “sports coaching app” vs. “app for sports coaching.” Since both keywords are extremely similar by Google’s standards, both keywords may potentially split learnings and results. By consolidating, you’re able to review performance at a much higher level more efficiently.

4. Consider updating BMM keywords to Phrase Match.

While Google will honor existing BMM keywords (which will now essentially function similarly to the new phrase match targeting), the ability to edit these keywords will likely be removed in the coming months. Because of this, it is recommended that BMM keywords are converted to phrase match.

Final Takeaway: More Time and Success For Your Campaigns

Savvy digital marketers will continue to embrace Googe’s automation over manual keyword control and use it to maximize performance for their brand(s). By carefully leveraging the change in keyword match types, marketers will be able to cover more relevant searches with less work. This will give them more time to work on overall strategy and provide the proper context for automated bidding to advance, whether that’s through their creative, messaging, or other events outside of the platform that can impact performance. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this update or MuteSix’s Google Ads services for your business, drop us a line through our website.

Special thanks to our friends at MuteSix for their insights on this topic.
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