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Updates To Phrase And Broad Match Modifier Keywords

Updates To Phrase And Broad Match Modifier Keywords

Google recently announced that it is making changes to phrase match and broad match modifier. They say that these updates will make it easier for advertisers to reach more customers.

What is the difference between phrase match and broad match keywords?

Google’s phrase match is an option for advertisers who are looking to show up in an exact phrase that is included in a searcher’s query. For example, if your phrase match keyword is ‘rock concerts’, then your ad may show up in queries like ‘rock concerts near me’, ‘tickets for rock concerts’ or ‘uk rock concerts 2021’.

Whereas broad match, as the name suggests, allows for more variety. As well as the keyword itself, your ad may show up for a wider range of search queries. If you were to use the keyword ‘rock concerts’, then your ad may display for irrelevant searches such as ‘rock climbing’, ‘classical concerts in the uk’, or ‘best rock bands’.

Google introduced its broad match modifier to alleviate some of the issues that arise with broad match keywords. This tool keeps the keywords more varied but reduces the irrelevant traffic advertisers may see. They can place a ‘+’ before a word that must be in the query for an ad to be shown. By changing the keyword to ‘+rock +concerts’, advertisers can ensure that both words will be in the query, displaying the ad in front of more relevant traffic.

What’s changing?

The search engine giant is expanding phrase match to cover additional broad match traffic. Google has ensured that the updated phrase match will respect the word order when it’s important to the meaning.

Google’s announcement also gives a very useful example of what we can expect from the update. They explain that a moving company looking to reach people who are interested in moving out of New York City into Boston will not want to show up for searchers looking to move in the other direction. This is illustrated in the graphic below.

Google's expanding phrase match to cover additional broad match traffic
Source: Google

They also explained how the matching behaviour will change after the update with the following examples:

Broad match modifier keyword example
Phrase match keyword example
Source: Google

Phasing out support for broad match modifier

Over the coming months, advertisers will gradually see broad match modifiers being phased out. To minimise disruption, starting this week, both phrase match and broad match modifier will be transitioned into the new matching behaviour. This means that, for now, advertisers won’t need to take any action – there will be no need to migrate keywords and they will keep their performance data.

After the new behaviour has been rolled out across the globe in July, advertisers will no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. Therefore existing broad match modifier keywords will serve under the new behaviour.


Google has continuously been looking to improve its own understanding of search intent so to make it easier for advertisers to reach customers. The updates to phrase and broad match modifier keywords initially will be somewhat disruptive to advertisers and their PPC efforts on Google. However, it is anticipated that eventually, this update will make it easier for advertisers to streamline keyword management, saving time. Tillison are experts in Google Ad Management and can help you!

So what do you think of the latest Google update to keyword match type? How much has it disrupted you? Do you think it’ll make things easier going forward? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so make sure you comment below or tweet us @TeamTillison.

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