In today's volatile world, few things are certain, but we can reliably predict changes in Google Ads.

And so, Google announced last week that another change in keyword match types was imminent.

Keywords changed with largely matching modifications no longer exist and their functionality is carried over to keywords with phrase matching.

As a big advocate of using technology to keep your sanity when Google makes changes that would otherwise take a long time to adjust, I'm sharing another free Google Ads script – this one to predict the impact of the last change made by Google on your accounts.

At the end of this post you will find a single account and an MCC version of the script.

What is the broadly matched Keyword Matched Type?

There are four types of match types: exact, expression, broad, and negative.

Each is designed to help advertisers determine how closely a user's query should match their chosen keyword before an ad is served.

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Google has long claimed that around 15% of all user-performed searches are so unique that advertisers cannot have an exact matching keyword (where the keyword must match the search query almost exactly).

For this reason, there are match types, such as phrase and general: Used to display ads when the search query is associated with the keyword, but may have additional or slightly different words.

While advertisers often enjoy the extra conversions they can get by giving Google some flexibility with their match types, there are cases when advertisers want a hybrid approach to keyword match types.

You want to include certain words in the keyword that are critical to the business while other words are less stringent.

For example with the keyword (Hotels in Miami), a boutique hotel that just having a location in Miami will likely be pretty strict when it comes to having the word "Miami" part of the search.

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But they might be okay with changing the word "hotel" to "lodging" because they could suit the needs of both users.

That advertiser can indicate this preference by adding a plus sign “+” in front of the critical words in a broad match keyword: (Hotels in + Miami).

This modified version of a broad match keyword is known as a BMM (Broad Match Modified) keyword.

Taking the same example, but looking at an advertiser who represents a global hotel chain with hundreds of locations, it may be stricter to keep the word "hotels" as they will find that their ads for searches started with the word "motels" " Their conversion rate is lower because their properties tend to be higher and more expensive.

You would have the BMM keyword (+ Hotels in Miami).

Full vs. partial BMM

In order to gauge the impact of the Google change on your accounts, it is helpful to understand that there are two types of BMM keywords: full BMM and partial BMM.

The examples I gave above, with only a few words in front of them with a “+”, are both examples of a partial BMM.

When I worked at Google, we believed that this was what advertisers wanted in the first place as it gave them more control. It was similar to exact match, with the added benefit of extra search volume that comes from having a few words matched broadly.

However, it turned out that BMM was never really made into a specific match type or given an appropriate user interface to help advertisers use them as intended.

As a result of this second rate treatment, it was applied in unexpected ways.

Always short of time advertisers looking for a link simply added a plus in front of each word of each keyword.

And so, for most advertisers, BMM effectively became full BMM.

Surprisingly, there are even people on Google who didn't know that the (+) doesn't have to be in front of every word.

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At Optmyzr, my current company, we analyzed a sample of 162 million keywords in early February 2021 and found that:

  • 89% of advertisers use modified keywords to a large extent.
  • 55% of advertisers who use broadly matching matches always put a plus in front of each term in their BMM queries. H. (+ Video + Games + for + Xbox).
  • 95% of all largely changed keywords have a plus in front of each term of the keyword and are completely BMM.
  • Only 5% of the keywords are more selective when adding the (+) to words and some are BMMs like.

As you can see, the vast majority of BMM usage is full BMM.

Partial BMM seems more to suggest that advertisers simply forget to put a (+) in front of each word instead of using it on purpose.

Phrase match absorbs BMM

As of mid-February, Google says:

"… The phrase match is expanded to cover additional traffic with broad match modifiers while still following word order if it is important to the meaning."

Phrase matching was originally developed to keep the exact words of the keyword in the same order while allowing additional words to be inserted before or after it.

This will no longer be the case.

The phrase match is becoming more and more like a full BMM with a preference to keep the word order the same.

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This is actually good news because as I've shown, most BMMs are full BMMs.

Now the phrase match will take on the role of the full BMMs.

If you were in the group of advertisers who used full BMMs almost exclusively, now your phrase match keywords will take over that role and you won't lose much traffic.

This is because word order is preserved if Google thinks it makes a difference to meaning.

What advertisers should expect

The big question is always what will happen to volume and relevance, as these will later lead to more or less conversions.

The expected impact is well summarized by David Wihl of the Google API team in his post for the Google Ads API blog:

  • Advertisers who predominantly use phrase matches are expected to experience incremental increases in clicks and conversions.
    • This is due to the additional queries that these keywords can now match. For example, (Holidays in Zambia) will now match (Holidays in Zambia) as a keyword, which was previously only an option for BMM.
  • Advertisers who predominantly use BMM are expected to see a slight decrease in clicks and conversions.
    • Most of this loss comes from BMMs where the modifier was only applied to part of the keyword, e.g. B. (tennis + shoes).
    • Also, we now consider word order if it is important to the meaning of the keyword, so it will filter out some matches that previously matched BMM.

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I want to add the partial or full BMM component so this should work for me like this:

  • The phrase match will increase something Traffic because additional words can be inserted between the phrase.
  • Full BMMs lose some traffic because word order needs to be maintained in some cases.
  • Partial BMMs lose more traffic because partial BMMs stop working without the ability to selectively (+) use words. They're more likely to become full BMMs that are more restrictive.

What advertisers can do

As always, advertisers need to monitor their search terms.

Yes, I know Google recently restricted this data, but there is still some insight to monitor the impact.

The script in this post can provide you with a report on the breakdown of your keyword match types, including full or partial BMM.

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Use this in combination with the predicted impacts by match type shown above to assess how important this change can be to your accounts.

Match Type Report with BMM

The script also calculates how many keywords are duplicated once BMM is fully included in the phrase match.

It does this by looking for keywords with the same text that are present in both the BMM and the phrase match within the same campaign.

Double the number of keywords after combining phrase and BMM

For the sake of account hygiene, it is recommended that you remove the BMM keyword.

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The sooner you remove duplicates, the sooner you'll get metrics for the keyword that won't be discontinued later this year.

Finally, the script uses Smart Bidding to check what percentage of the clicks come from campaigns.

It is recommended that advertisers take advantage of auction bidding so that Google does not avoid excessive spending on related, but potentially poor quality, requests that could potentially generate traffic.

The argument for smart bidding is similar to the one I made in connection with close variant matches in section 1 of this earlier post here on SEJ.

Preparing for Broad Match Modified Retirement: A Script

Copy the full code of the script that you can find here on GitHub and paste it into a new script in your Google Ads account.

If you want the MCC version of the code you can find it here.

Either way, find the line that points to a spreadsheet URL and enter the url of your own copy of that template spreadsheet.

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More resources:

Photo credit

All screenshots by the author, February 2021

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