Google Ads Broad Match Modifier: What is it and What to Use

4 min

What this means for you is that broad match modifiers will no longer be available after July 2021, and all of your broad match modifier keywords will now default to phrase match.

How do you get ahead of this change? Read on!

Match Types: A Quick Review

You probably know there are three kinds of match types in AdWords. Just so we don't leave anyone behind, though, let's have a quick recap of the three main match types.

Exact Match

Ads may show for searches that match the keyword or have terms with similar meaning. Of the three options, exact match is best because it allows you to target your audience more precisely.

Phrase Match

Advertisements may show for user searches which include the meaning of your keywords. The meaning of the keyword can be implied and user searches can often be a more specific form of this kind. With phrase match, you reach more customers but your advertising will not be shown to those looking for something different. This is more focused than broad match but less targeted than exact match.

Broad Match

Broad match is the default keyword match type, and it allows an ad to show on searches that are related to your keyword. This expands your reach without needing to specify each specific term within search queries.

To provide more relevant matches on Google's advertising platform, broad match includes a broader variety of criteria, such as:

  • The user’s recent search activities

  • The content of the landing page

What is a broad match modifier?

This match type will trigger your ads when the keyword is present in any form (exact or close variant) - including those with/without quotation marks, numbers, punctuation, etc. To add a BMM keyword you need to put “+” sign before it. Doing this tells Google that the keyword must be used in the search.

How do you make a broad match modifier?

Fortunately, Broad Match Modifiers can still be enabled. By adding a plus (+) sign before the broad match words you want to include in search queries, any query with these keywords will trigger your ad. Broad matching and modifiers do not respect the order of words, so the matching words may appear next to each other or appearing separately at different points in the search query.

What is the difference between a broad match and a broad match modifier?

A broad match is broader than an ad using modified broad match because the broad match keyword will trigger ads for synonyms and related searches, even if they do not include the actual keyword or keyword phrase. Broad match modified keywords only trigger ads when the specific words, or close synonyms, are searched.

Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match Keywords: What Is Changing?

In July 2021, both phrase and broad match modifier keywords will have the same updated matching behavior in order to show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.

In February 2021, Google began to incorporate behaviors of (BMM) into a phrase match. Broad match modifiers are now considered "phrase" instead of an exact search as they were before.

Google plans to roll the phrase matching behaviour out to more languages in the future:

  • As of April 2021, the updated phrase match behavior is available in the following languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian

  • Starting in June, the updated phrase match behavior will begin rolling out to all languages, completing in July 2021

You don’t need to change anything about your phrase or broad match keywords in order to see the upcoming changes.

Updated Phrase Match

The broad match modifier (BMM) will be updated to become the phrase match for Google AdWords. The new behavior will be more expansive than phrase match, but slightly more restrictive than BMM.

5 Simple Steps to Take to Be Ready for These Changes

We want to help you prepare for the upcoming changes, so we've put together a set of five steps to follow:

  1. It is important that you begin to only use exact, phrase, or broad match when adding any new keywords. Doing this will help ensure your ads have the most accurate targeting and do not get changed automatically by a future update.

  2. Add negative keywords to your ad group if you wish to exclude specific queries. This can help you retain some of the precision of the broad match modifier keywords across your ad groups.

  3. To prepare for the broad match modifier change, check your campaign budgets and make sure you aren’t budget-limited. It is possible that phrase match keywords will see an increase in volume as a result of these changes.

  4. Review the “Add new keywords” recommendation to see if there are additional keywords you should add to maintain coverage. Because we’re tightening BMM’s reach, there may be some queries you’re no longer reaching using your existing keywords, and we’ve labeled these keywords in the list of recommended keywords.

  5. Consider switching your phrase queries to broad match if you are using Smart Bidding. This will give you the opportunity to reach more people while still honoring your advertising goals.


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Author of the article


Senior PPC Expert

Daniel’s been a digital marketing whizz since 2012. Three years client-side, and more than five agency-side. Mostly for 'Big Six'.

Either side of the fence, he knows exactly what it takes to deliver great PPC results.

  • 11 Years of Experience in Digital Marketing

  • Certified Google, Facebook & Microsoft Ads Professional

  • Google Analytics Individual Qualification

  • 8 Years of Experience with Google Ads Scripts

  • Certified Data Scientist and Cook

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