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Changes made to keyword matches

BY TOM HART | May 27, 2021

If you haven’t heard about the recent changes Google Ads’ made to keyword match types here’s everything you need to know summed up by our paid search experts.

To make it easier to reach the right customers on search, Google Ads made changes in April to phrase match by incorporating similar behaviours of broad match modifier (BMM). The changes only apply to certain languages for now, but they are to be rolled out to all languages by July 2021.

What are the behaviours of BMM?

BMM has similar behaviours to broad match but it only shows ads in searches including words designated with a plus sign or close variations of them.

For example, if a customer is looking for cheap wireless headphones the keyword matches to insert into Google Ads campaigns would need to be:

  • +cheap;
  • +wireless; and
  • +headphones.

If a customer searched for “cheap and light headphones” your BMM would work as it would pick up on the word cheap and the word headphones.

What was the behaviour of Phrase match before the changes?

Phrase match shows searches that match a phrase or close variations of that phrase with additional words before or after the phrase.

It did not show results if a word was added to the middle of the phrase.

For example, if you were to set a phrase match keyword for “cheap headphones” and a customer searched “cheap wireless headphones”, the phrase match would not work. However, if the customer searched “wireless cheap headphones” then the phrase match would work as the word “wireless” is not added in between the keywords.

What are the behaviours of Phrase match after the changes?

Phrase match now allows for ads to appear on searches that include the meaning of your keywords. The meaning of the keywords can be implied or alternatively user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning.

For example, phrase match keywords like “cheap headphones” will match under queries like “cheap wireless headphones” and “cheap blue headphones”.

Furthermore, phrase match keywords like “holiday in Zambia” will match under queries like “holiday spots in Zambia” and phrase match keywords like “women’s boots” will match under queries like “new women’s size 37 boots”.

Note that adding a word in between the keywords no longer means a query will not match, in contrast with the behaviour of Phrase match prior to the changes.

Phrase match is now more flexible than exact match but more targeted than broad match.

As phrase match has expanded to cover additional BMM traffic (while maintaining respect for the word order when it’s important to the meaning), Google will be phasing out support for BMM over the next several months.

In July the new behaviour of phrase match will be rolled out globally and the creation of new BMM keywords will no longer be possible. However, existing BMM keywords will continue to serve under the new behaviours.

The new changes being made to phrase match are designed to give you more control and a better reach to the right customers on search when creating Google Ad campaigns.

If you need some help optimising your Google Ad account get in contact on 0203 368 8556 or


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