How To Gain Control Over Your Broad Matched Keywords

Last spring, Google AdWords introduced Broad Match Modifier, an innovation that shows Google has been listening to its customers. For many years paid search experts have complained that broad match is too broad and phrase match is too narrow so I for one was pumped to hear about the modifier a few months back and couldn’t wait to start testing it.

To start, let’s define the term “broad match.” As the name suggests, broad match keywords generate relevant (right Google?) keyword variations for your campaign. Using broad match in a campaign is useful for a lot of reasons. It generates a large search query list you can then turn into phrase and exact matches, helps accumulate data during growth phases and vastly increases impression share. However, they can make you run through some serious budget. Also, broad match lacks the control of other match types and typically results in low efficiency (high CPA).

The Google broad match modifier can help get a client the best of both worlds.

By adding a plus (+) sign within a broad match keyword, the modifier will ensure that any time your client’s ad is served up on a search, that search must include the token (word within the keyword phrase) that has a + sign in front of it to be served.

For example, a keyword like “expensive shoes” on broad match could possibly display for a query for “expensive sneakers.” However if the keyword has a modifier like “expensive +shoes” the user’s query must use the word “shoe” like “pricey shoes”. Also, it will not display for “pricey sneakers” since “shoe” was modified and therefore a required term. Additionally, your ad will display for stemmings (like “floor” and “flooring”) as well as misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms.

The modifier adds a level of specificity that can help control your budget while accumulating data and mining relevant search queries. It can also help generate additional volume on campaigns that use a high % of phrase match.

Ultimately, the decision to move forward with broad match modifier should be carefully considered on a campaign by campaign basis. Putting a plan in place from the onset of a PPC campaign will go a long way towards determining whether broad match modifier falls in line with your client’s objectives and spend. Still, the modifier certainly appears to deserve an “A+” for the majority of PPC programs.

For Google’s deep dive on broad match modifier check out the Broad Match Modifier Overview pages at AdWords help.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | How To: PPC


About The Author: leads the MediaWhiz Search division, providing brand and market leaders with programs designed to increase their market share and deliver customers leveraging ROI-driven Performance PPC, SEO, Social Media Optimization, Online Reputation Management and Local Search. Follow @MediaWhizLLC on Twitter.

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  • alanmitchell

    Hi Adam,

    From my testing so far on modified broad match using 3 AdWords accounts ( ) I found modified broad match to deliver significantly higher CTRs and lower CPCs than standard broad match.

    I agree the decision to roll out modified broad match should be on a case by case basis, but for campaigns with a large amount of broad match keywords, rolling out modified broad match would no doubt help to increase the relevancy and performance of the campaigns considerably.


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