Yesterday, Google announced the matching of Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match keywords. This blog post will go over what this means, best practices, adjusting strategy, and my opinion as an agency strategist on how this will impact the future of paid search. 

The Down Low

TL;DR – This allows for more granular targeting. This change, along with Google’s recent announcement of limiting visibility on search terms forces us as digital marketers to rely more heavily on audience targeting and tagging. Audience targeting allows us to go after the customer rather than what they’re searching for. Tagging allows us to show ads to site visitors, those who have interacted with our site, etc. For some, this will limit wasted spend but for other, broader businesses, this can lower performance.

So, what does this change even mean? 

This means that longer tail keywords will no longer be triggered by BMM search terms. Broad keywords will still be in play. Below is a screencap from Google support that explains what queries will still and no longer be triggered.

Source: Google Support 

Source: Google Support 

Best Practices

Below are recommended best practices and tests you can run to ensure a minimal impact on campaign performance. 

Monitor budgets – Phrase traffic may increase, and as a result, spend may increase. Check to see if campaigns are underperforming or limited by budget. Adjust accordingly based on your brand’s measurements of success and KPIs (key performance indicators).

Run Demographic, Device, and Location reports – Are certain demographics converting more than others? Are a huge number of wasted clicks coming from a particular location? I recommend setting negative locations or demographics to granularize audiences even further. While it may seem counterintuitive to show your ads to fewer people, this helps show your ads to the proper audience. 

Utilize Keyword Tools –  Tools such as Google’s keyword planner and SEM Rush help widen your reach. Consider expanding your keyword list using the above tools in addition to using your landing page to find missing opportunities. I also recommend running a search terms report to add keywords that are converting and if they aren’t, set them as negative. For example, one of my fitness clients shares the same name as a popular truck model, so we set keywords such as truck as negative to eliminate irrelevant traffic. 

Limit Creation of BMM Keywords – Create phrase match keywords moving forward. Additional resources will be rolled out by Google to transform BMM keywords to Phrase match as we get closer to the date. While this change will start coming into play mid-February, it’s expected to fully roll out globally by July. 

Pivoting Strategy

As marketers, targeting various users at different parts of the funnel is our bread and butter. Consider creating ad groups or campaigns at a match type level to cater to different users. Exact match should be used as a lower funnel strategy, Phrase match as mid funnel, and Broad as upper funnel. Keep in mind that the more specific the search term users type in, the closer they are to converting. 

Target audiences mode appropriately in observation as well. As more data rolls in, you can switch from observation to targeting mode where appropriate. Remember that observation mode does not limit who you show ads to, but targeting does. 

Another recommendation I have is to implement Prospecting and Remarketing campaigns. The average user needs to see an ad 6-7 times before converting. Remarketing campaigns (especially cross-platform)  ensures users see your ad multiple times. Prospecting campaigns (can be created by making a similar to audience) show your ads to people who look like those who have converted, visited your website, etc. This allows you to target ads to people you might not normally show ads to. 

You also might be wondering how this change will impact automatic bid strategy. If you run campaigns with a Target CPA or Target ROAS, there is no need to increase your budget cap if your performance goals are the same. If you’re wanting to increase traffic, I recommend either upping or eliminating your cap so Smart bidding can generate more traffic at your ROI goal. 

If you want to stick to a daily budget, Maximize Conversions or Maximize Clicks is the way to go. Keep in mind that it still may spend over the daily budget but it usually evens out by the end of the month. You can gradually increase your daily budget if you’re wanting to increase traffic. 

Thoughts from an Agency Strategist…  

While this change will require us to think more strategically, it only strengthens the case for implementing audiences in paid search campaigns. This also increases the urgency to add tags to our websites. 

Audiences allow you to target certain areas such as age, gender, interests, etc. Read more about audience targeting capabilities here. For example, if you Google Accounting, this can mean several things. Are you looking for an accountant? Are you trying to find quick resources to pass your Accounting 101 class? Are you looking for Accounting programs near you? Implementing audiences helps you target the user. 

I also mentioned the importance of tags in your digital marketing strategy. Tags help you track user behavior on your site, in addition to giving you the ability to remarket towards people who have interacted with your site. If you’re new to tagging, I recommend reading this blog post about Google Tag Manager as it doesn’t require heavy coding. I also recommend reading January 2021 Updates to Paid Media. As digital marketing continues to get more complex, data privacy concerns are becoming more prevalent so it is important to remain educated in this sphere. 

In Conclusion

All in all, the digital marketing sphere is constantly changing. By not putting all your eggs in a single basket (ie, solely strategizing off keywords or audiences), this ensures your strategy won’t be too heavily impacted.