Broad match modified keywords in Google Ads are gone

It’s no longer possible to add new Broad Match Modified keywords to Google Ads accounts. So what are our options?

You are reading: Broad match modified keywords in Google Ads are gone

From July 2021, it’s no longer possible to add new Broad Match Modified keywords to Google Ads accounts.

The general recommendation is that Broad Match Modified keywords should be changed to the (updated) Phrase Match, which gives *some* of the control of the old Phrase Match, with the increased reach of Broad Match Modified. This means that ads may show on searches that include the meaning of a keyword – which can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning.

In addition to this change, Google is now suggesting that advertisers put their trust in Broad Match keywords.

According to Google:

“Broad Match keywords serve ads when someone searches for relevant variations of your keyword delivers reach in finding new queries, while saving time on management & allowing you to focus on business outcomes.”

What it doesn’t mention is that Broad Match keywords can show ads for searches that are in no way related to your business, despite Google claiming that they have been continuously improving the way it works, calling it ‘an essential way to identify and cover all relevant queries’.

Improvements cited by Google include:

  • Improved relevance of variations of keywords: matches the same queries as Exact and Phrase Match, and many more additional related searches
  • Considers additional signals, like user location and recent search activity and landing page to ensure searches are relevant to your business
  • Matching holistically & improved understanding of the keyword intent, based on all the keywords in your ad group

Google Ads is shifting toward automation

Google is shifting more and more toward machine learning and contextual signals, pushing advertisers away from creating campaigns with loads of Exact Match keywords. And even Exact Match no longer means ‘exact’ – close variants (which may not actually be that close) frequently show in search term reports, leading to a lot more time being spent adding negative keywords!

Another fairly recent update was to Smart Bidding strategies. Target CPA and Target ROAS have now been bundled with Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion value, meaning that setting a target CPA or ROAS is now optional.

Responsive Search Ads and Dynamic Search Ads are becoming more dominant in many accounts too, with impressions being shifted away from Expanded Text Ads.

All of these factors take control away from the advertiser. And these strategies and ad formats might not be suitable for everyone.

So, with many of us feeling that we have less control over many aspects of an ad account, is it worth trying out Broad Match keywords?

Big brands have the budget to experiment. Want to blow a few grand in wasted clicks? Not a problem for most large advertisers. If you have some ad spend to play with, and a decent number of conversions so the Smart Bidding has plenty of data to learn from, I’d say go for it.

Rather than relying on the case studies from Google that states Broad Match campaigns with a Smart Bidding strategy are awesome (which only includes massive brands), I’m going to test it out myself on a SMB to see if you can get similar results with a far smaller budget. I’m not optimistic, but I’m also happy to be proven wrong.

I’ll be back with the results in a few weeks!

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