Google combines broad match modified and phrase match types

By Christina Ahmed | 16 Feb 2021

On 18th February, Google released an update announcing that phrase and broad match modified (BMM) keywords will function as the same match type and match the same searches. Google has said this change will streamline keyword management, reaching searches that respect the word order or show the same meaning as the keyword. 

The new phrase match will work somewhere between the existing phrase match and BMM. Therefore, advertisers should expect to see a slight decrease in traffic for BMM, as search queries not matching the meaning of the keyword are removed from matching. Also, phrase keywords are expected to see an increase in traffic, as search terms that Google’s system deems to have the same meaning will now be reached.

Advertisers should consider four main actions in response to this change.

  • Monitor performance: review BMM and phrase match keywords, as traffic volumes may fluctuate​
  • Run regular search query reports: keep an eye on changes in searches coming through BMM and phrase match keywords, and update negative keyword lists as needed
  • Check the recommendations tab: Google recommends looking at ‘add new keywords’ and ‘remove redundant keywords’​ to either increase search query reach or streamline campaigns
  • Test match types: Google suggests considering broad match keywords with smart bidding to increase search query reach


From July 2021, you’ll no longer be able to create new BMM keywords in your account, however, existing BMM keywords will still be able to run. The assumption is that, eventually, Google will remove the BMM match type altogether, but there is no timeline on this yet. This calls into question what the new ‘best practice’ will be for the use of match types and campaign structure moving forwards.

In the longer-term, advertisers using BMM keywords will need to make a decision about updating keyword and campaign structures. You’ll need to choose between continuing with the new phrase match, which the BMM keywords will have transitioned into, or testing broad match instead if search query reach through the new phrase match is reduced more than expected.

Google’s recommendation is for advertisers to test broad match keywords with smart bidding, as it’s suggested to drive strong performance through a wider search query reach and improved machine learning, which focuses on search query meaning and relevance. Despite this, it’s likely many advertisers will continue with the new phrase match in replacement of BMM in order to allow more control over keyword matching.

This update makes sense for streamlining the match types available, given the greater focus on search queries matching the meaning of keywords through machine learning. It looks to be another step towards greater automation of campaigns in the long-term.