Google’s official announcement included the following:
“Starting in February 2021, phrase match will begin to incorporate behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) to simplify keywords and make it easier to reach relevant customers. With this change, both phrase and broad match modifier keywords will have the same matching behavior, and may show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. This also means that the new matching behavior will consider word order when relevant to the meaning.”
Meaning that your keywords will now be matching the meaning of the search. And this can be a nice feature long-term. However, you will be facing many challenges moving on forward.
- What match types do you currently have on your account?
- Are all match types grouped or do you have them split into different ad groups or campaigns?
- What is your negative keyword structure? Will it need to be updated?
- Do you have your budgets ready for the upcoming change?
- What bidding strategy do you use?
- Do you need to adjust your ad text?
- Are there any rules that need to be adjusted?
What match types do you currently have on your account? What can you expect?
In this scenario, you can expect increased traffic on Phrase match and simultaneously decreased traffic on BMM. If there is no Phrase match equivalent to BMM, expect the overall decrease in traffic and sales. Some searches can be caught by the Exact campaign.
Actions: Export all your keywords and make sure you have a Phrase match equivalent to BMM so you can have a smooth transition.
Are all match types grouped together or do you have them split into different ad groups or campaigns?
Actions: Segment your ad groups/keywords by different mediums to see if anything needs to be adjusted – devices, search partners, audiences, ad schedule, demographics.
What is your negative keyword structure? Will it need to be updated?
Actions: Check your Phrase campaign search terms. You may need to add more negative keywords previously associated only with your BMM & Broad campaign. If you are running a complex account structure with a lot of keywords, you may want to.
Do you have your budgets ready for the upcoming change?
Actions: To avoid being limited by budget, make sure to adjust it accordingly. A 70%-30% ratio may not be such a good idea with this switch happening.
What bidding strategy do you use?
Actions: Evaluate your Avg CPC across different bidding strategies and start the learning phase timely.
Do you need to adjust your ad text?
Actions: You will most likely need to add 1 new ad text with the Keyword Insertion function in the Phrase campaign to keep the relevancy at the same level.
Are there any rules that need to be adjusted?
Actions: Revisit and adjust your rules accordingly.
Timeline of Major Match Type Changes
However, with every new update, your current strategy seems outdated and you are forced to change it over and over again. That way, you keep losing data and your performance. That is why you should probably need to have a “timeless” strategy – the one that is simple enough to get you the highest return on investment, and yet, complex enough to allow you to manipulate the data and put you on top of your competition.
That being said, let’s remind ourselves of the major keyword changes Google had implemented over the past few years.
- 2014 – Google requires close variants to be used as separate keywords
- 2017 – Word order and function were added as close variants for exact match keywords
- 2018 – Intent was the focus, so Google added same-meaning terms to exact match close variants
- 2019 – Google further loosens close variants to same-meaning on phrase and broad
- 2021 – Phrase match replaces BMM
A Word from Experts
Brad Geddes – Marketing Expert and the author of Advanced Google AdWords
Brad Geddes is the only Advanced AdWords Seminar leader that was selected by Google to conduct seminars for top businesses. Thus, it may be expected that he embraces each update. But we are sharing a couple of viewpoints from the Search Marketing Expo from December 2019.
One of the biggest takeaways was the notion that Google may not respect your keyword hierarchy as it was supposed to. There are 3 main issues that he highlighted:
- the control that phrase match once offered is gone
- Google often ignores its own hierarchy rules, resulting in duplicate queries
- there are often poor intent matches
The query “trademark symbol” triggered the phrase match keyword “trademark logo.” The intent here is quite different. “Trademark symbol” searchers are looking for the symbol to copy and paste into their documents, whereas “trademark logo” searchers are looking to get their logo trademarked, Geddes noted. That’s a big difference.
If you would still like to keep the keyword-to-query relevancy, Geddes laid out the search term workflow that in our opinion depicts work on search terms and keywords still relevant today and that we use daily.
Digital Excellence Agency
To conclude, a huge task is in front of you as always!
As a marketing professional, you will need to evaluate data and set a new strategy that will work with the major update Google just launched. If you feel this may be challenging, feel free to reach out to us and schedule a consultation with one of our marketing experts. You will get a better understanding of where to put your effort and make the most out of your investment.