What Happens as You Transition Keywords Out of Broad Match Modifier Match Types?

Google Ads began transitioning broad match modifier (BMM) behavior into phrase match in February 2021. Both phrase and broad match modifier keywords have the same updated phrase matching behavior for all languages as of July 2021 and will show advertising on searches that incorporate your keyword’s meaning. So broad match modifier as we know it is dead, and while it’s not necessarily causing a massive disturbance by still being active in your account, Google recommends transitioning them out—and makes it quite easy to do so.

Google created an option inside the Keywords section, under “Change Match Types,” to help you easily execute this transition. They recommend that you switch broad match modifier keywords over to phrase match, and while it’s a very simple process, we understand that you may still have hesitations. 

You’ll see in the second screenshot below that you technically can change these BMM versions to exact or broad match as well. However, this will definitely change performance one way or the other. Move to exact, and your volume might decrease. Move to broad, and you can expect to see a big boost in traffic. Since BMM now behaves like phrase match anyway, Google recommends that you switch over to phrase to ensure a smooth transition. 

While many PPC experts are likely aware of these changes by now, I still see plenty of active BMM keywords while auditing prospective client accounts. You likely still have some BMM keywords active in your account because you might not know exactly what will happen when you hit that vaguely detailed “change broad match modifier keywords” option inside Google Ads. While these behave like phrase match keywords, they’re still technically listed as broad match in the “Match Type” column, so it’s best to go ahead with the transition to clean up your account.

There are three main scenarios that can exist when you have an active broad match modifier keyword that you’re looking to transition into phrase match:

1) The BMM keyword exists, but the phrase match version of it does not.

  • In this scenario, if we switch the BMM keyword to phrase using the {Edit > Change Match Types > Change broad match modifier keywords} option in the Keywords section of Google Ads, it removes the BMM keyword and creates a new phrase match version in an active state. 

2) The BMM keyword exists, as does its phrase match counterpart.

  • In this scenario, if we switch the BMM keyword to phrase and the phrase match exists, the old BMM keyword is removed, and the phrase match version remains untouched. So if you have the same BMM and phrase match keyword active currently, it’s beneficial to remove the BMM version since they’re behaving exactly the same but may have different bids. It’s unnecessary to keep them both active. 

3) The BMM keyword exists, as does its phrase match counterpart, but in a paused state.

  • In this scenario, if we switch the BMM keyword to phrase and the phrase match exists in a paused state, the BMM keyword is removed, and the phrase match version unpauses automatically. This surprised me a bit when I saw this happen in one of my accounts. I was positive that Google was not going to account for paused phrase match versions, but sure enough, they did! 

So regardless of the scenario, Google has measures in place to ensure that your outdated BMM keyword is removed and its phrase match counterpart either stays active, is created, or is activated from a paused state. So you can be confident that when you perform this transition, you will not be creating any potential keyword gaps and start losing out on performance. It’s always important to be adhering to Google’s ever-changing best practices, and this is just one example of how they make it easy to do so. 

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