February 11, 2021 | By: Tony Mastri

Broad Match Modified (BMM) Keywords Are Being Merged with Phrase Match in Google Ads

Google Ads is making another change to the functionality of their keyword match types for Search ads. As of February 2021, phrase match keywords will absorb most behaviors of broad match modified (BMM) keywords for search campaigns.

Google purports that this change is an effort to “make it easier to reach relevant customers.” However, the full impact of this change has yet to be seen and could be considered a highly subjective matter.

You may not necessarily understand how this change impacts your Google Ads campaigns, as long as you continue to get good results. We’ll dive a bit deeper into what this keyword match type change means for your business, and what could come next.

Why Is Google Merging Broad Match Modified Keywords with Phrase Match?

There have been several keyword match type changes over the past decade that have impacted search campaigns in Google Ads. Consider the following important match type updates since 2014.

  • September 2014 – Google announced on the Google Inside AdWords blog that close variant keyword matching would be applied to exact and phrase match keywords. Advertisers would automatically start paying for things like plural or misspelled versions of your keywords without you needing to specify.
  • March 2017 – Google started ignoring function words (like “to,” “for,” “in,” “from”) if their system determined they were not important to meaning. The 2017 close variant announcement in the Google Inside AdWords blog also mentioned that exact match keywords would start matching user searches in different orders if the meaning was deemed to be the same.
  • September 2018 – Google announced their update to match “close variations that share the same meaning as your keyword,” through the Google Ads Help center. This change was meant to match implied words, words with the same intent, and paraphrased matches for exact match keywords.
  • July 2019 – Google announced on the Google Ads Help forum that BMM and phrase match keywords would start matching for words they perceived to have the same meaning. This equates to a search like “lawn mowing” to match a “grass cutting” phrase match or BMM keyword.
  • February 2021 – In the latest update, Google has announced changes to the phrase match and broad match modified keywords. In a manner of speaking, the broad match modifier keyword (a broad match keyword with a plus sign in front of it indicating close requirement) will now function as a phrase match keyword, and in July 2021 you will no longer be able to create BMM keywords.

So, why is Google Ads implementing this change to BMM and phrase match keyword types?

Pros of the BMM/Phrase Match Change

Some of the gradual changes above help advertisers attract relevant potential customers to their sites that they may have otherwise missed.

Years ago, advertising for the exact match keyword [running shoes] would have missed user searches for “running shoe,” “jogging shoes,” or “running footwear.” Now, a business can attract all these variations with the original [running shoes] exact match keyword.

Aside from exact match keywords, even the July 2019 update made it better for phrase and BMM keyword replacements when it makes sense. For example, a single BMM keyword for +lawn +mowing could now be triggered for a user search for “grass cutting.” In general, these people probably have similar potential to become a customer.

Cons of the BMM/Phrase Match Change

 These changes are dangerous to advanced advertisers. For example, after years of research and advertising, you may have determined that a customer that found your business by searching “lawn mowing” had a higher lifetime value than someone who found you by searching “grass cutting.” Different language carries different value perceptions, after all.

You may have created an entire Ad Group around lawn mowing that includes specific ad verbiage and landing page phrasing to capitalize on this nuance. Every time Google sends a “grass cutting” searcher to your “lawn mowing” ad, value is lost in the process and you spend ad dollars on less valuable customers at a higher cost-per-click since this mismatch could affect your quality scores.

Long story short – the BMM and phrase match combination eliminates another layer of control from savvy advertisers.

An analogy would be like taking your significant other out for ice cream. You order a medium butter pecan cone and a medium chocolate chunk. The cashier says your total comes to $12.99. You hand them a $20 bill… they keep the change and hand you back two medium chocolate sugar cones. While you did technically get ice cream, a LOT of liberties were taken here.

As advertisers, we can mitigate a lot of these liberties by being very diligent with our negative keyword lists, but that involves even more time and energy.

New BMM/Phrase Match Examples

In their announcement article, Google included a visual with some search query examples of keyword matching before and after the BMM/phrase match combination.

details of broad match modified (bmm) phrase match keyword change 2021

As a business that enjoys the benefits of Dallas, Austin, or Houston PPC management, you may not be interested in the specifics of this change. At the end of the day, there are still ways to get great results for your campaigns. Things like negative keyword lists and PPC audience targeting can elevate your results without changing your budget.

Let MARION Handle the PPC Details for Your Business

You’ve got a business to run and keeping up with the seemingly endless changes to Google Ads and inbound marketing can be exhausting. Our Texas marketing agency has been serving the community for 40 years, and we’ve evolved with the times to offer effective Houston, Dallas, and Austin PPC management for your business.

Contact us online today to schedule a free marketing consultation! If you have any doubts, check out this digital marketing case study to see how we’ve helped businesses like yours thrive in today’s competitive climate.

About Tony Mastri

Tony Mastri, Digital Marketing Manager at MARION, is an experienced agency and in-house digital marketer. With a proven background in content strategy, relationship-based link building, and technical SEO, he makes data-informed decisions that drive client growth.

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