On February 4th, 2021, Google made an announcement that the keyword match type, modified broad match, will be phased out starting tomorrow, February 18th and will be completely removed by July. This isn’t the first time that keyword match types have changed. In fact, it is the fifth:
- 2014, Google ended support for “pure” exact match types and would still serve advertisements for close variants such as misspelling, plural, or exact match variations.
- 2017, word order and function words were added to close variants of exact match.
- 2018, exact match began including variations that share the same meaning as the keyword provided.
- 2019, modified broad match and phrase match began matching words within a search query that share the same meaning as the keyword.
What are Keyword Match Types?
When an advertiser wishes to create a text ad in a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, they can tell Google how aggressive or restrictive they want their advertisements to match with a keyword search. Currently, there are 4 different kinds of keyword match types an advertiser can use to control who views their advertisements:
- Broad Match Type: Broad match offers the greatest reach than the other match types, however, broad match can also have the highest number of unintentional searches as well. For example, if my keywords were “low carb diet plan”, my advertisement would be found under “carb-free foods” or “low-calorie recipes for healthy lifestyles”.
- Modified Broad Match Type: While this match type will no longer be available tomorrow, modified broad match was the middle ground between broad match and phrase match. With modified broad match, the advertiser had more control than broad match and more reach than phrase match.
- Phrase Match Type: Phrase match shows your ads with searches that include your keywords and is denoted with a plus (+) sign. For example, if my keywords were “+tennis” “+shoes” and “+Calgary”, then my advertisement could be found under “buy tennis shoes in Calgary”. Now, Phrase match will be taking over as the middle ground of match types.
- Exact Match Type: Denoted with square brackets () between your keywords, exact match offers the greatest control over your keywords—no more, no less. However, as mentioned above, exact match type isn’t purely an exact match because it also includes plural, misspellings, or other close variations.
How will Phrase Match Type Be Affected?
As Google continues to improve on their algorithm and understand context behind a user’s search, Phrase Match will now inherit the best of Modified Broad Match, while continuing to offer the level of control advertisers expect from this type.
Google offers a great example on a moving company offering moving services from NYC to Boston, but not the other way around.
As you can see, with updated phrase match handles most of the queries found under modified broad match, however, context and word order matters. A user searching, “Moving company Boston to NYC”, would not be found under the updated phrase match.
Google also offers other example queries that will or will not match after this update:
We welcome the new changes that Google has made. Simplifying keyword match types eases the learning curve but still want the control that smart campaigns don’t offer. However, not everyone will have the same sentiment. It may take days or weeks for larger marketing companies that handle hundreds of campaigns to make the required adjustments. In addition, there is now a gap where the old phrase match used to be. Advertisers who want to target that type of keyword will no longer be able to do so. Only time will tell how the performance of campaigns may be affected, but for now, it seems to be a wait-and-see situation.
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