Google’s phasing out of Modified Broad Search – What you need to know

As of February 2021, Modified Broad Match will no longer be a feature in Google search. The ability for advertisers to specify certain words (with a + sign) included in a search will no longer exist. These changes are important and need to be considered as the long term impacts on your business may have both positive and negative effects.

Google are on a mission to reduce the need for keywords completely. They are not quite there yet but are implementing changes that push them ever closer to that goal. So what is Modified Broad Search firstly and what is happening in the phasing out of it?

Modified Broad Search put simply is specific keywords that are required for your Ad to show through the use of a ‘+’ sign. All the matching words and the ‘+’ sign must match but order does and did not matter. From February 2021 keyword input for your Ads will now be paired with only the three options of Broad Match, Phrase Match and Exact Match so let’s briefly look at these…

Broad Match allows keywords to trigger an Ad to show whenever the phrase or similar phrase is searched, even if it includes misspellings or, for example, singular or plural forms allowing for the widest audience to be captivated.

Phrase Match is similar to Broad Match but it allows for Google to match Ads with keywords that contain a designated phrase. Again with Phrase Match the order of the words does not matter.
Exact Match is when a search matches the keywords of your Ad exactly but is not affected by functional words such as “in” and “to”.

Google says this change will “bring the best of Broad Match Modifier into Phrase Match”. Google say that they believe that in combining the two you will be able to reach a much more accurate spectrum of customers. Any changes are often met with controversy and differing opinions and in this case, there is a real concern for Pay per Click (PPC) advertisers and the impact on keyword traffic to businesses.

For some, the change could be beneficial but for others, the benefits may take a while to be seen and though the changes seem straight forward they aren’t quite as simple as they appear. Phrase Match is not creating a direct replacement for Broad Match Modifier in all instances, with this in mind the impact on Ad rankings could be damaging.

Google believe that these changes will make managing keywords easier as the changes allow for more control over the keywords in your account rather than managing specific keywords. For those that need a little convincing or support during the changeover, Google has created a help article. Included in the information are details about what you need to do, but according to them, currently no specific actions are required while changes take place and waiting for the additional tools that will help make conversions easier will be more beneficial than trying to convert keywords at present.

Though Broad Match Modified keywords can still be used right up until July 2021 is will be better if you can use Phrase Match keywords from February onwards.

With this period being a very much ‘wait and see’ situation you must stay ahead of the game so here are a few top tips to help…

• Advertisers need to keep a close eye on budgets as increased clicks could mean increased costs!
• Regularly check Googles recommendations especially the ‘add new keywords and remove duplicates.’
• Consider extending your list of keywords to increase reach.
• Evaluate your accounts to manage budgets.
• Monitor negative keywords to keep out bad traffic and remember that negative keywords will stay the same.
• Stay up to date on changes. Share information, discuss and review.