A lot is happening in the paid and organic search space right now, so we’re providing an overview of the key things you need to know:
Bye-Bye Broad Match Modifier
Google is doing away with Broad Match Modifier (BMM) in its selection of match types. This match type was more inclusive than phrase match (which includes variations as well as the term or phrase purchased) but not as sweeping as broad match (broad match can include synonyms and anything else Google considers to be like terms purchased). In place of BMM, Google is expanding phrase match to basically become what BMM was (which means more variations of the term purchased but not quite as broad as synonyms). I suspect this is due to advertisers not selecting to use BMM as much as Google would have liked and opting to use more exact and phrase match. What does this mean? Probably many campaigns will be showing for more searches, lowering share of voice but expanding where ads are showing. Campaigns will show for more variations — many that we want to show for and variations we don’t want as well. It won’t affect healthcare-focused campaigns more than other industries, and advertisers will need to respond similarly. Advertisers will need to review match type usage, monitor search query reports and performance closely, and add any negatives/make any adjustments needed when this rolls out starting February 18.
Bing Doing Away With Manual Bidding
Bing is upping the ante in response by doing away with manual bidding in paid search — all campaigns will switch to automated bid rules starting March. What does this mean? Many campaigns will probably start showing for more terms and spending more. Advertisers will need to choose which bid rules align with their campaign goals and set up and ensure those are in place before March. Then they will need to monitor campaigns and performance closely and adjust as needed. While in the end bid rules can save time, doing away with manual bidding will give advertisers less control, which may impact campaign performance. Google still is allowing manual bidding, which is good. Bid rules are generally not created with healthcare campaigns in mind so the rules may not fit those campaigns perfectly, which is more important on a large-volume search engine like Google.
Mobile-Only Indexing Is Almost Here
Google has announced that, starting in March 2021, they will roll out full mobile-only indexing. While mobile-first indexing has been a part of the algorithm for several years, this change will mean that content that is ONLY visible on desktop and not mobile will be dropped from the index and no longer show in organic search results. They recommend that all content must be reachable/viewable by a phone, including comments, structured data, images, and video. Most everyone designs sites that are mobile friendly, if not mobile first, these days but there may be some laggards out there that will fall out of Google search results.
Not New, But Important: Google Core Vitals
Google rolled out more guidelines for websites to stay in Google’s good graces starting in May 2021. Most of these guidelines are not new, but Google is highlighting their importance in maintaining visibility in organic search results. The algorithm focuses on site speed improvements such as optimized images, reducing code volume, as well as important user experience requirements, including HTTPS, mobile friendly, no malware, non-intrusive interstitials, or pop-ups. Bing is the only other real search engine (as YouTube is still Google) but only represents about 10% of all searches (while Google represents about 85%). It’s not necessarily easier to get good visibility on Bing, but it is probably not a priority for most because of the lower volume of activity there. Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are ones to watch in the search engine space, though. News just came out on Thursday, February 11 about Apple adding more paid search-like advertising to their offering, which is a start to moving away from Google.