Google Ads: broad match modifier to be phased out

Posted by Edith MacLeod on 8 Feb, 2021
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Phrase match to be expanded to include broad match modifier traffic. Here’s how it will work.

Keyword match.

Google Ads has announced a major change to its keyword match types.

Broad match modifier will be phased out, and phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic. Google says the updated phrase match will continue to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning.

The changes will start rolling out in two weeks.

Google says it's “bringing the best of broad match modifier into phrase match”. It means you'll be able to reach the searches you want just by using phrase match, without worrying about the searches you don’t want.

It gave the example of a company wanting to show up for search queries for moving from NYC to Boston, but not vice versa. The change means their ad won’t show up for searches for moving in the opposite direction, from Boston to NYC.

Keyword match.

Google gave further examples of how matching behaviour will change following the update.

Matching behaviour.

With Google’s improvements over the years and better understanding of search intent, it says “phrase match and broad match modifier often serve the same use cases, and ... you can reach more of the right customers through a combination of the two.”

The change will start rolling out in mid-February to both phrase match and broad match modifier.  Because the change is happening to both match types there’s no need to take any immediate action.

In July, once this has rolled out globally you won’t be able to create new broad match modifier keywords.

“Starting mid-February, both phrase match and broad match modifier keywords will begin to transition to this new matching behavior.3 Because this behavior will be applied to both match types, you won’t have to take any immediate action—you’ll keep your performance data and have no need to migrate your keywords.  


In July, once the new behavior has been rolled out globally, you’ll no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. However, existing broad match modifier keywords will continue to serve under the new behavior. That’s why starting now, we recommend creating new keywords in phrase match going forward.”

Google says the changes are being rolled out gradually to minimize disruptions, and support for broad match modifier will be phased out.

Google will be issuing notifications as the changes roll out. It directed users to its Help pages for further information.