Google Updates: Phrase and Broad Match Keywords Are Preferred Now

Google Ads has updated the way queries are matched to keywords. The search engine will now be preferring phrases and broad match keywords that are identical to queries. Google has updated the keyword matching process for queries with no identical keyword match.

Moreover, the company has unveiled that it will now use the capabilities of BERT’s language to understand the intent of a query and match them to keywords. BERT is a neural network-based technique used for natural language processing pre-training that the search engine giant uses to better discern the context of words in search queries. BERT technology is very useful when it comes to broad match keywords.

BERT for Keyword Matching

Earlier this year, Google had made an announcement that an exact match keyword (identical to the query string) would be given priority whenever that keyword is eligible to match with a query. The purpose of this update was to reduce account complexity. Now, the search engine has announced the same for phrase and broad match.

Since 2019, our research team has made significant improvements in how we interpret language, queries, and search intentㅡand your keywords now use this same technology to connect you with more people that are searching for what you have to offer,”

Google Said

For instance, a highly specific query such as ‘Tremec T-5 5 speed transmission seal input shaft’ can now match with the broad match keyword auto parts because we can say they’re related, even in case no words in the query and in the keyword actually match.

If searches exactly match your keywords…

As per the recent update, an exact match keyword that is identical to a search query will be prioritized by Google as long as the keyword will be eligible to match. This will apply to broad match and phrase match keywords.

To take an example, if the query is ‘buy a cat bowl’ that matches various different broad match keywords in your account such as ‘purchase a cat bowl, ‘cat bowl,’ then Google will prefer the identical keyword.

In another example: let us say the search query is ‘sushi delivery near me’ and you have the broad match keywords ‘sushi delivery and sushi delivery near me.’ both of these keywords would be eligible to serve before this update.

Now, Google will prefer the keyword ‘sushi delivery me’ because it is identical to the search term.

If no keywords are identical to the query…

Earlier, if you had mixed relevant keywords that were eligible to match, the search engine would use ‘Ad Rank’ to ascertain which keyword to deliver. Now, Google has decided to take relevance signals based on the meaning of all the keywords and the landing page in the ad group in addition to Ad Rank.

Below is the table shared by Google. The table outlines how keywords will be matched-

Keywords That Are Eligible How Keywords Are Selected
More than one broad match keyword Only relevant broad match keywords from the most relevant ad groups will be considered. Ad Rank is then used to decide which keyword will be selected among this narrow set of broad match keywords with similar relevance. If you have exact match or phrase match keywords that are deemed similar or less relevant than these broad match keywords, there is still a chance the exact or phrase match keyword will be selected if it has a higher Ad Rank.
One broad match keyword and one exact match/phrase match keyword If you have exact match or phrase match keywords that are deemed more relevant than these broad match keywords, the exact or phrase match keyword will be selected.
More than one exact match/phrase match keyword If you have multiple exact and/or phrase match keywords eligible and no broad match keywords eligible, the keyword with the higher Ad Rank will be selected.

What Should Advertisers Do?

The main aim of this update is to let marketers feel more relaxed using broad match keywords, without risks of losing control of existing keywords. Google has also informed that there is no gain if you use the same keywords in multiple match types when using Smart Bidding. This is because broad match already includes the same queries.

However, it is recommended to run small tests in your own account before reaching any conclusion.

Precisely speaking, the value of having multiple match types still exists but the exact match should still match more tightly. So, they may draw more significance than a broad match keyword.

If you know how Google matches keywords, it will help you save time and better configure your campaigns.