How Do We Specify a Phrase Match Keyword in Google Ads?

February 28, 2021

At the beginning of February 2021, Google announced that it’s going to phase out the broad match modifier in Google Ads over the coming months. This major change on the advertising platform will have an effect on how keyword targeting operates.

The phrase match will be expanded so it includes similar behaviors of broad match and phrase match modifiers. This means that phrase matching will basically use both of these modifiers. But, what’s most important, without the same levels of precision and predictability.

Google states that it will “continue to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning,”. And this is the vital distinction here. This basically means that the search algorithm will be the one to decide on whether the word order is important or not in a particular search query.

According to Google, this change will simplify keyword settings on the platform. When using just phrase match, advertisers will be able to reach only the audience they want while excluding the searches they don’t want.

Most Google Ads account managers anticipate that phrase match keywords will see an increase in traffic in the future when broad match modifier keywords get the opposite effect.

In essence, both match types are going to be the same thing from now on, where existing broad match modifiers will continue to perform under the new behavior. Advertisers can continue to use their broad match modifiers. But once the new change fully rolls out worldwide in July 2021, it will no longer be possible to create any new broad match keywords in the account.

After finalizing the change, new BMM keywords cannot be added any longer. That’s why starting now, it’s wise to get into the habit of creating new keywords in phrase match going forward.

To understand the importance of this update, let’s talk about phrase match modifier keywords in more detail.

How Do We Specify a Phrase Match Keyword in Google Ads?

Currently, if you implement keyword phrase matching in your campaign, your ad will show only when the search query exactly matches the wording in your keyword. It’s still flexible like the broad match type. But it targets in a more precise way and it gives you more control.

When using this type of match, your ad will reach customers searching for the exact keyword but with additional words before or after it. That will also include close variations of that keyword.

With phrase match, you can reach more potential customers. Also, show your ads to those people who are most likely to have interest in your services or products.

When using phrase matching, your ad will be displayed with the exact wording of the keyword. But it will also include its close variations. This is also the case when a searcher adds other words before or after a particular keyword. For instance, synonyms, homonyms, plurals, or abbreviations. All these might be considered as different close variations.

In phrase match, the word order is important. Which means that your ad will not show to a searcher who types an irrelevant word in the middle of the keyword. A phrase is considered broken whenever it has spelled words or other terms are added between them. Thus, the ad does not appear.

Which Symbol Is Used for Phrase Match?

When setting phrase match, we mark the keyword with quotation marks, e.g. “bed bug exterminating”.

In the search query, phrase match keywords must be present in the same order as you have specified. So for example, your ad has a “bed bug exterminating” keyword, indicated in quotes. It will show for such queries as bed bug exterminating services near me, or termite and bed bug exterminating.

However, your ad will not appear for queries such as exterminating a bed bug, or bed bug and termite exterminating.

Prior to the recent Google update, phrase match keywords operated just like that – the mentioned search terms must be in the correct order. This was providing advertisers a reasonable level of control over the terms that triggered ads using phrase match keywords.

Phrase match is now expanding where phrase match keyword type will merge these two functions. Now Google will determine whether the order of the words and matching of the search terms is important.

Sadly, once we lose this control and predictability, we as advertisers will need to work harder to keep our ads from appearing for unwanted search queries.

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