Phrase Matching in Google Ads

When it comes to your Google Ads, if you are still thinking in terms of broad match modifier (BMM) keywords, you may need to pull over and absorb this next bit. In early 2021, Google began phasing out these keywords and began a targeted expansion of key-phrase matching in its stead. The complete transformation was achieved in July of 2021, which means that any BMM keywords you’re looking to for guidance are now phrase-match keywords masquerading as BMM keywords. And if you rely on both BMM keywords and phrase matching, you may be double-dipping with keywords in a manner that doesn’t behoove you (or your site’s ranking).

Taking a Focused Approach

Unless you are targeting separate campaigns (such as those with distinct locations), doubling up on keywords is less than ideal. You’re going for winning keywords (the more winning, the more expensive), and if you’re coming at them from the perspective of BMM keywords and phrase match keywords, you may be paying more than you should be – diminishing both your resources and your online punch in the process. Two tips for helping you stay focused include:

  • Looking to Google’s recommendation tab to carefully review your account’s BMM keywords
  • Manually going through your catalog of campaigns (which should already be part of your regular maintenance) and pausing any BMM keywords that are duplicates of phrase-match variations

Getting to Know Google’s Updated Phrase Match

Google’s updated phrase match aligns with most of the behaviors that you were used to with BMM keywords, but its intended reach is much broader. To help illustrate this segue, Google offers a handy-dandy diagram depicting how usage of its updated phrase match has exploded in terms of capturing what users are going for. If, for example, you happen to be moving from London to Manchester and you type in a phrase to that effect, your results will now align more closely with your intentions (and BMM will no longer have much to do with it – other than overlap). This shift is affecting your site’s effectiveness and overall rank, and a better understanding of how it all works is imperative.

Letting Go of the Exact Match

It’s wishful thinking to believe that if you can somehow come up with the exact few words that the masses are likely to type into Google, you’re going to win big. There is so much more to creating and fostering an online identity than that, and keeping an eye on the bigger picture is key. To put it more bluntly, keywords are no longer the EVERYTHING they once seemed to be. This shift was inevitable, and we all knew it, but now that it’s actually happening, it’s rocking our online world a bit. Never fear; however, there are baby steps you can take to help you find your way and maximize your brand’s potential along the way.

Losing the Two-Dimensionality

BMM keyword matching played an important role in getting us where we are, and now it’s time to move beyond this two-dimensional approach (without losing sight of our roots). The dividing line between BMM and updated phrase match is that, with BMM keywords, searches that relate in some way to your keyword may connect. With updated phrase matching, on the other hand, searches that incorporate the meaning of your keywords are likely to connect, and there can be a world of difference between words that are related and phrases that share meaning. Updated phrase matching allows you to plumb deeper depths and to expand the breadth of your reach, but getting where you need to be – like every other Google about-face we’ve lived through – can be daunting.

Getting Started

The key to getting started with updated phrase matching is fairly straightforward, and while you may experience growing pains along the way, chalk it up to valuable experience and keep climbing.

Phrase Match Only

Looking for exact matches to your phrases can lead to the same limitations as exact matches for keywords, and taking all comers is unlikely to provide you with the quality connections you’re going for. In other words, you’re looking for balance. Now is a good time to check your campaigns for any parameters that focus only on phrase matching and to rethink these constraints.

Check Out Google’s Recommendations

Take a peek at what Google recommends for you, but while the add new keywords option may be chock full of ideas, you shouldn’t go all in without due diligence. Google is a big-picture machine, and nuances often elude its ham-fisted approach. While Google’s recommendations may increase your traffic, it’s not going to do you any good if that increase is irrelevant. Always consider Google’s recs in the context of your business and your business goals.

Let Go and Let Google

If the thought of letting go of the reins and letting Google swoop in and take over strikes fear in your heart, you are not alone. Google is telling us to let go a little by rolling out our broad match keywords in tandem with their smart bidding – which is a manifestation of its machine-learning hegemony that is intended to optimize your ads for objectively improved results. While this affords you a more hands-off approach, you remain the master of your own domain in the context of prioritizing specific goals. Taking this plunge can be jarring, but the water is fine (if you dive in with clear goals and intentions in mind).

Google Never Sleeps, but an Online Marketing Pro Can Help You Keep Up

At The Web Guys, our savvy digital marketing pros are prepped and ready to help you ride Google’s shifting protocols into better online performance and rank. Change can be hard, but it’s Google, and it’s what they do. Allow us to be your intrepid guide by giving us a call at (317) 805-4933 or connecting with us online today.