Google has recently announced what could be a potentially large change for paid search marketers; that broad match modified version of Google keywords will be phased out. Phrase match will be expanding to cover broad match modified instances. The performance data of any running campaigns will stay where it is however the new matching behaviour will start to take place later this year. 

Broad match modifier keywords will continue to be added until July 2021, it is anticipated that the existing broad match modified keywords will continue to serve but will be matched differently in line with the new update. A similar transition of what happened from text ads to expanded text ads. Google has stated this new streamlined approach to phrase match modifier will save account management time so brands can spend less time managing specific keywords. Throughout this blog, we will explore the uncertainty of phasing out broad match modifier and how advertisers can prepare.  

What Does This Mean for Google Ad Campaigns?

Google is consolidating their platform complexity, they have been trying to get advertisers away from fixating on keyword-level of search for years. Broad match modifier is on it’s way out and will transition with phrase match to the new matching behaviour in mid-February 2021. In July, when the changes will be in full effect globally, advertisers will not be able to create new broad match modifier keywords but existing broad match modifier keywords will be served under the new behaviour.

How Does This New Matching Mechanism Work On Google?

Right now broad match modifier works by telling Google these keyword terms must be all present in the search enquiry, this is expressed by adding a plus sign in front of the keywords required in the search (For example, +Digital +Marketing). Phrase match traditionally worked by telling Google these words must appear in the order set out however Google hasn’t been 100% specific but note that phrase match will now cover both broad match and traditional phrase match modifier while considering whether the word order is important. In other words, it can distinguish intent.

Google has used this example and image below to help explain the new changes. The example is if a moving company that helps people move from New York to Boston but not the other way round.  

  • “moving services NYC to Boston” (phrase match)
  • +moving  +services +NYC +to +Boston (Broad Match Modifier)

Is Google Phasing Out Broad Match Modifier?

Shown above demonstrates that the new phrase match will capture most of the searches that used to be covered by broad match modifier keywords but not where the word order is different. In the example, Google has used the word order matters however it will be interesting to find out in the months to come how phrases and keywords work when the order doesn’t matter. 

Additional examples below from google support on how broad match modifier and phrase match were before and how it will work after the update:

Is Google Phasing Out Broad Match Modifier?

How Should Advertisers Prepare?

This depends on what match types you are using just now, if you are currently using phrase and exact match keywords and arent currently using broad match modifier you will likely see some big changes. There might be a big increase in people clicking on your ads however some of this traffic is not going to be the target audience you want. 

If you are mostly using phrase and broad match modifier, then you might not see a massive change. However, one thing to keep an eye on is how Google will order the search phrase. You may need to create extra phrase match keywords to cater to viewers that may be missed if the word order is changed. For example, if your Google Ads account currently has keywords similar to; “Digital Marketing London” and +Digital +Marketing +London you might want to add in “London Digital Marketing” as an extra phrase match to ensure your ads will still be shown for that search after broad match modifier stops. This might also affect budgets – especially in accounts that allocate budget towards match types.  

Google has stated, “Starting mid-February, both phrase match and broad match modifier keywords will begin to transition to this new matching behaviour.” Once it has been rolled out globally (Google are aiming for July 2021) you won’t be able to create broach match modifier keywords however existing broad match modifier keywords will continue to serve with the new behaviour. 

Once the changes from Google begin, keep a close eye on your Google Ads campaigns and look for changes in campaign performance, CTR, conversion rates and cost per click. You might also need to adjust your bid strategy. Also, check your search term report regularly to check your ads arent appearing in a greater number of searches that are irrelevant for your campaign – therefore will need to block those phrases with negative keywords.


Over the past couple of years, Google has been trying to improve its advertising platform for better automation and this update is no different. This change could save advertisers time managing keywords but this time might be taken up recalibrating existing campaigns. There could be some fluctuations in traffic and clicks when these changes start and advertisers will need to keep an eye on all their campaigns performance and make any necessary adjustments. 

No one can say for certain at this point how exactly the new update will affect your Google ad campaigns, Jam Digital are on the case about this and keeping a close eye on our client’s campaigns. If you need any support or have a question about Google phasing out broad match modifier please don’t hesitate to contact us by email or phone! 

Jam Digital 

If you need support or advice with your Google Ads, Jam Digital can help. Partnering with Jam can offer your business the opportunity to optimise your time and budget through our team of experts, focussing on generating the best results for your business.

For more information and advice on Digital Marketing contact Jam Digital Marketing today on 0330 094 7323, email:  

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