We are aiming to raise £10k to help 4 small local charities in Brixton. Visit our Just Giving page.

Google Calling Time on Broad Match Modified


The world of digital marketing is always changing and surfacing new challenges for our experts to navigate. Google’s updates to its various platforms can sometimes cause a stir – but our PPC team takes it all in their stride. Here’s Johnny, our PPC Manager, to tell you more about Google’s latest update.

Earlier this month, Google announced a change to their keyword matching function, with the phasing out of broad match modified keywords and the expansion of phrase match. This is the latest update in a series of changes which highlight Google’s apparent desire for advertisers to move further towards automation.

Google said:

To give you more control and better reach, we’re bringing the best of broad match modifier into phrase match. As a result, phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, while continuing to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning. This makes it easier to reach customers and manage keywords in your account.

So, What Does This Mean Exactly for Advertisers?

Although we will only be certain of the true effect of this change over the coming months – Google stated this will come into effect from mid-February – advertisers should be aware of what this could mean for their accounts, so we have outlined some of the key areas that need closer attention.

Search volume

With so many marketers using BMM as a way to expand their reach beyond the exact keywords they have in their account, it will be crucial to understand if there are any holes left which your BMM keywords were filling. As this is going to be a phased change your traffic may not fall off a cliff, but being aware of what your typical levels of clicks are against what you are seeing over the upcoming months will be important to manage this change.


With vast improvements to Google’s machine learning in the past years and their continued efforts to push advertisers towards these methods, Google is guiding marketers to a more automated approach. Following their diminished search terms report, improvements to Broad Match targeting coupled with automated bid strategies, and now the removal of BMM keywords, it is clear that this is what the future holds for Google Ads. So whether we are in favour of it or not, using Google’s automation is something we should be more comfortable with.

Search queries

Although this will limit the search terms coming through your account rather than expanding them, after any change to the matching algorithm it is important that we pay close attention to our SQRs. We know from past changes that we might see unexpected behaviour.

How Should Advertisers Prepare for Broad Match Modified Changes?

Although Google gave recommendations to their advertisers within their announcement, it is often best to cast a sceptical eye over these to ensure they are going to be beneficial to both you and your accounts. We have given our thoughts on what this means for us moving forward.

1. Know your accounts

Although this may seem obvious, it is crucial to understand your current performance levels. As this change may impact the performance of the account, advertisers should recognise how their accounts are being impacted, what has changed and what adjustments they can make to get the best from this.

2. Negative keyword lists

With Phrase Match expansion and Google recommending Broad Match with smart bidding as an alternative to retain additional reach, negative keywords become increasingly important. As advertisers recognise smart bidding does have its place, negative keywords alongside broader targeting will be important to ensuring you retain a good level of control.

3. Review recommendations

As this change will affect what you will be targeting, it is likely your Recommendations tab will highlight where you have duplicate keywords and where you can expand targeting. Staying on top of these recommendations will ensure overall account health and could help identify areas for improvement.

4. Update account structure

With a large number of marketers using BMM and Exact match types as the basis for their campaign structure, updating naming conventions and match types will be important for their account health. Despite Google stating BMM keywords will continue to function as Phrase Match following this rollout, from a management perspective it will be necessary to make any relevant changes as we are phased out of BMM.

5. Test and become familiar with automation

Many advertisers have reported the improvements they have seen through Google’s automation over the past year, especially through Google Smart Bidding on Shopping campaigns. With Google holding huge amounts of data around user intent that we have no visibility on, we are reaching a point where we have no option but to put our trust in Google. Although this makes some marketers uncomfortable, it is not necessarily a problem.


As mentioned at the beginning of this article, only time will tell exactly what these changes mean for advertisers in the long run. With the digital marketing industry being as ever-changing as it is, the only thing we do know is that we must continue to ensure we are prepared for these changes and we are dynamic enough to make the most of them.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below, or chat to our PPC team if you are looking for some expert help with managing your PPC campaigns.