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How Google’s phrase match and BMM update will affect your PPC strategy

By Sean Healy, Head of PPC at Jaywing

Announced in February this year, Google’s recent update to the function of phrase match keywords and broad match modifier (BMM), means big changes for advertisers.

These new restrictions, which are currently being rolled out and are due to be finalised in July 2021, determine that BMM is being phased out. By then, advertisers will no longer be able to create BMM keywords or edit existing ones. Instead, phrase match will expand to cover the functionality of BMM.

Why are BMM and phrase match changing?

Google’s reasoning for this update is that it will provide businesses with better reach for ads and more control over which searches will trigger them. According to the search engine, as the Google Ads platform has developed, they have found more and more that phrase match and broad match modifier have often served the same use cases and that a combination of the two would be more beneficial for advertisers.

The aim of this update is to streamline keyword management, offering advertisers more control and helping them save time. But failing to adapt your strategy between now and when the changes are finalised in July will be detrimental for your brand’s PPC profile.

What will this mean for my brand?

To help you prepare for these developments, here are three key points that are likely to have the most impact on your PPC strategy:
1. BMM will no longer be supported, but phrase match will change to cover search traffic that would originally have been picked up by BMM.
2. Like BMM used to, phrase match will now take notice of word order in search queries ‘when it’s important to the meaning’.
3. Google will no longer trigger ads for queries deemed inappropriate based on semantics, meaning that the new phrase match type will not trigger all the same queries it used to.

What will this look like?

Source: Google

According to Google, phrase match will now be smarter, making it easier for you to reach the right searches for your brand without having to worry about the searches you don’t want.

The below examples show how the new phrase match type is more tailored than BMM, triggering only for searches that are relevant to the ad, rather than just for any that contain the right keywords

Source: Google

These updates aim to streamline keyword management and help advertisers reach relevant audiences by focusing results on the meaning of the search. Google has also stated that broad match will now look at “additional signals in your account to deliver more relevant searches”. Remember that these signals include landing pages and keywords in your ad group.

What are the next steps?

Here are five tips to help you adapt your strategy to make the most of the new developments:

1. Accustom yourself to the changes by looking at Google’s examples of keywords that will no longer trigger after the update.
2. Keep an eye on search term reports to monitor impact on relevancy whilst adding negative keywords into the accounts to ensure that click-through rate percentages remain strong.
3. Resist the temptation to move to a full broad match strategy as this can trigger search queries which are only loosely related to the keyword, resulting in the true meaning of the search being lost or misconstrued and ultimately wasting your budget on irrelevant ad placements.
4. Test out the update for yourself by running low volume A/B tests, with full broad match enabled, to measure the incremental impact of this match type against the new phrase match type.
5. Moving forward, it is best to build granular account structures, ensuring that longer-tailed keywords are built into the account, with different permutations of each phrase. This will minimise the impact of future updates.

Changes like this to Google Ads can sometimes be a cause of panic for advertisers, but there’s no reason to be alarmed. This isn’t the first time that Google has changed its keyword mechanisms and will by no means be the last.
Remaining responsive and adaptable is the key to making sure your PPC strategy continues to be the best value for your brand.

For more information on Google’s phrase match and BMM update, please visit.