Google Ads Keyword Match Type Changes Every Business Should Know

Advertisers can bid on keywords that are related to their businesses or products or services and serve their Google search ads on Google search results. For example, a mechanic shop can bid on the keyword phrase “oil change” and show their Google search ad for related queries on search results. Example:


Advertisers can also be granular with their keyword bidding strategy by bidding on keywords that match certain phrases. For example, an advertiser can bid on a phrase such as “Honda Civic oil change” and their search ads only appear when a prospect includes the phrase “Honda Civic oil change” in that specific order in their search query. The three keyword bidding match types are:

  • Exact match: Ads may show on searches that are the same meaning or same intent as the keyword. Of the three keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad.
  • Broad match: Ads may show on searches that are related to your keyword, which can include searches that don’t contain the keyword terms. This helps you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work. Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned as if you don’t specify another match type (exact match, phrase match, or a negative match type).
  • Broad match modifier: This keyword match type lets you bid on search queries that must include or have relevant terms related to the keywords you’ve bid on. For example, if you use a broad match modifier to bid on the keywords “red running shoes”, your ads will show when a user searches for those keywords but not necessarily in the same order for the keywords that you’ve bid on. For example, your ad can show up for “red running shoes” and “running shoes red”.
  • Phrase match: Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning. Phrase match is more flexible than exact match, but is more targeted than the default broad match option. With phrase match, you can reach more customers, while still showing your ads to customers who are most likely searching for your product or service.

Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier match types

Started in February 2021, phrase match will begin to incorporate behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) to simplify keywords and make it easier to reach relevant customers. With this change, both phrase and broad match modifier keywords will have the same matching behavior, and may show ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. This also means that the new matching behavior will consider word order when relevant to the meaning. For example, the phrase match keyword “moving services NYC to Boston.” will continue to cover searches like “affordable moving services NYC to Boston.” It will also cover searches that traditionally only matched under broad match modifier, such as “NYC corporate moving services to Boston.” Phrase match won’t show ads for searches where the direction is reversed (for example, people looking to move from “Boston to New York City”).


In July 2021, the creation of BMM keywords will no longer be available, but the same matching functionality will be available through phrase match. Existing BMM keywords will continue to serve using the new behaviour.

This change will become available to advertisers in the following languages first: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. For all other Google Ads languages, the new matching behaviour will roll out later this year.

You won’t need to take any specific action for your phrase match or BMM keywords in order to see these changes.

Below are more examples to illustrate how matching behavior will change after this update:

Phrase match keywordQueries that will match after the update
“holidays in zambia”holiday spots in zambia
“long sleeve dress”long sleeve lace dress
new womens size 37 boot“womens boots”

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