Once again, Google has changed the way it matches ads to keywords. While Google’s changes aim to make it easier for you to reach the right audience, it’s important to understand how they work so that you can fine-tune your Google Ads strategy. But first, let’s take a step back and cover the background of match types!

How Did the Matching System Work?

In the past, Google offered advertisers four different matching options for keywords. This range of match types gave advertisers the flexibility to choose how closely they wanted the search terms to match their targeted keywords. The match types included:

Exact Match

When exact match is chosen, an advertiser’s ad is only considered for the auction if the search query has the same meaning as their targeted keywords. For example, if your keywords are ‘automotive painting’, exact match may only put your ad up for auction when users type in either ‘automotive painting’ or ‘car painting’. Note that the keywords don’t have to be a precise match, but the meaning of the keywords do have to be the same. Both car and automotive are accepted in exact match, because they mean the same thing. Exact match aims to give advertisers precision in their targeting.

Phrase Match

Phrase match differs from exact match because it allows ads to be considered for auction if the search query includes the meaning of their targeted keywords. This means that under phrase match, your ad would also be put up for auction in response to search queries such as ‘automotive painting near me’ and ‘car painting company’, as well as those search queries from exact match. Note the difference between the bolded sections of these two match types. Phrase match simply has to feature the keywords or words with the same meanings, but it can also include other terms as well.

Broad Match

As its name implies, broad match casts an even wider net. Under broad match, ads are put up for auction when search queries relate to your keywords. As an example, your ad could be put up for auction when someone searched ‘automotive detailing’ or ‘car wash’, in addition to each of the above search queries. Broad match aims to give advertisers greater reach.

Broad Match Modifier

Broad match modifier allows advertisers to designate keywords with a ‘+’, which can then match any part of the search query. For example ‘+automotive +painting’ may bid for ads on search queries like ‘automotive mechanic and painting services’, but not on queries like ‘automotive mechanic’.

What Are Google’s Changes to Match Types?

According to Google’s blog post about the changes, broad and exact match will stay the same. The changes include bringing aspects of broad match modifier into phrase match, and then slowly phasing out broad match modifier over the coming months. This will result in phrase match expanding to encompass broad match modifier traffic. However, the new phrase match will continue to respect the word order when this has an impact on the meaning. Google hopes that these changes will lead to phrase match becoming a better balance between exact match and broad match.Google explains the changes with an example search query of ‘moving services NYC to Boston’. In this instance, the searcher would not be interested in companies that only offer moving services from Boston to NYC, nor would these companies want to bid on ads for customers that they couldn’t take on.

Updated chart of Google's match types
Example of matching behavior before & after Broad Match Modifiers go away.

As Google’s diagram demonstrates, the changes simplify the situation, while minimizing the risks of bidding on similar search queries that are actually irrelevant due to the word order. This should make it easier to target appropriately while limiting the participation in inappropriate auctions.

Google listed some other examples to show how the updated broad match modifier keyword will now work:

  • ‘+resume +services’ will no longer match a query like ‘what are some customer service skills to put on a resume’
  • ‘+best +sneakers’ will no longer match a query like ‘best prices on sneakers for toddler’
  •  ‘+used +printers’ will no longer match a query like ‘companies that used daisy wheel printers’

The new changes also mean that the following phrase match keywords will match with these search queries:

  • ‘holidays in zambia’ will now match with ‘holiday spots in zambia’
  • ‘long sleeve dress’ will now match with ‘long sleeve lace dress’
  • ‘womens boots’ will now match with ‘new womens size 37 boot’

While Google says that these changes should result in improved service, it recommends that advertisers monitor their performance in the coming months and make changes as necessary. It also suggests you regularly check out your recommendations page to add or remove keywords and ensure a more effective strategy. Need more help thinking through the best way to revise your keyword strategy? My humans are happy to chat! Can’t even find your website on Google? Check THIS out! Email or call: