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Big changes coming to keyword matching in Google Ads

Posted on 10th February, 2021 by Richard Hassall

Google Ads

Starting on the 18th of February some big changes are coming to the way that keywords are matched in Google Ads. The change concerns broad match modified and phrase match keywords with the former being phased out between now and July. In this blog, we’ll look at what these changes mean for advertisers and what action you need to take.

Before we dive into the specifics of the changes let’s first look at what the different match types are currently and how they work:

Exact match – This is the currently the setting that gives you the most control over who sees your advert with ads showing for searches that match your chosen keyword or keywords with the same intent.

Phrase match – Next up on the scale is phrase match which is more flexible than exact match and allows for a broader selection of search queries to trigger your advert. Phrase match aims to show your ads for searches that match all your chosen keywords in order or close variants of these.

Broad match modifier – Currently in between phrase and broad match is the broad match modifier keyword. Adverts are only triggered for searches that include the words you’ve chosen or close variants of these, but these can be in any order in the search query.

Broad match – These keywords give are used to help show your adverts to as many people as possible for searches that are related to your target keyword terms. Broad match gives the least amount of control but is a great option for building up data to find terms that are worth targeting as phrase or exact matches.

So, what’s changing?

Google is going to stopping advertisers from adding new broad match modifier keywords in their accounts from July. Phrase match keywords are being expanded to now include similar targeting to those of broad match modifiers currently with the exception that they will continue to respect word order when it is important to the meaning.

Phrase matching changes will take place from the 18th of February and will start to match more key phrases to cover the use case of broad match modifier keywords as well. So, phrase match will be broadened to show queries that are present in a search query without having to appear in the current phrase order.

What does the change mean for advertisers?

Over recent years Google has been actively encouraging advertisers to move away from fixating on the keyword level in search campaigns and instead to rely on their artificial intelligence smart bidding and dynamic search ads to show customers the right adverts based on their search intent.

With more investment in their automated rules and processes, Google is taking yet another step to help streamline campaigns and make account management less time consuming.

How can you prepare for the changes?

The first thing you need to do is monitor the Recommendations section of your account for notices about duplicate keywords. With both phrases and broad match modifiers triggering for the same searches you will likely want to pause older broad match modifiers to allow phrase match keywords to show.

It’s important to keep checking in on your campaigns and pay particular attention to budgets, spend, and reach to see how these changes affect your campaign and the performance of your keywords and adgroups.

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