How To Use AdWords Broad Match Modifier: A MallowMayhem Example

So, you think you created a campaign structure that covers all the bases. You added broad, phrase, and exact match keywords with distinct keyword roots defining meaningful AdGroups. You have ad copy that leverages those core words for that important boost in CTR and conversion rate, and targeted landing pages to match. And you have used broad match modifiers… right?

Let’s take a look at some practical examples of using broad match modifiers in a how to format with an imaginary company, MallowMayhem. We will build on previous Search Engine Land contributions. If you are a regular Search Engine Land reader, these might be familiar to you already:

Here is the Google AdWords help center file to reference:

AdWords Broad Match Modifier Help

AdWords Broad Match Modifier Help Docs

Setting Your Sights On The Target

For the sake of illustration, we will work with an imaginary company named MallowMayhem. MallowMayhem sells Marshmallow Shooter Guns. This is a direct response campaign where conversions, volume, and margin are king over CTR and spend. MallowMayhem customers are quite informed.

They shop based on the different types of gun: gun, crossbow, and shotgun. Mercifully, MallowMayhem has not yet developed a marshmallow rifle.  S’mores campfires around the country may continue in relative safety.

As expected, search terms for our brand (e.g.: MallowMayhem) convert better than generic terms (e.g.: marshmallow shooter), especially when the brand is reinforced in the ad text.

Additionally, searches for specific gun types convert better with ads and landing pages highlighting the gun model, rather than the solely brand. So if the search indicates a gun model, we should be targeting ads and landing pages with the model. If it does not, then we default to targeting only brand and directing traffic to the homepage.

Here is our basic structure for AdGroups in this Account:

  • Brand
    • Brand (MallowMayem)
    • Brand (MallowMayem) + Type(Gun)
    • Brand (MallowMayem) + Type(Crossbow)
    • Brand (MallowMayem) + Type(Shotgun)
  • Types
    • Type(Gun)
    • Type(Crossbow)
    • Type(Shotgun)

That should give us a basic structure suitable for our purposes in this article.

Time To Load Up The Broad Match Modifier

By appending the new modifier “+” to individual tokens in a keyword phrase, we can signal to Google that the token we specified with a “+” (or very close variants) must appear in the query, while the other words may broad matched as usual.  In practice, it looks like this:

MallowMayehm +gun

This keyword will match searches for:

MallowMayehm gun

But will not match searches for:

MallowMayehm handgun


That is what we want!

Taking that a bit further, many advertisers assume AdWords will always pick the best matching AdGroup. They do not!

AdWords has a strong bias towards what breaks down to essentially the highest Bid * Quality Score (think of it as their expected payout). They also randomly mix things up in order to collect data so they can continually optimize. So basically any of your AdGroups could serve for a search for “MallowMayhem crossbow.”

Here is where broad match modifier comes in handy.

By using:

MallowMayehm  +gun

AdWords will not match on:

MallowMayehm  crossbow


Nor will it match on any of our other types. It will only match on gun (and very close variants).

A Note On Close Variants

Broad Match modifier is not a literal exact match. It allows close variants like singular vs. plural and word stems.

For example, the keyword token “+gun” will match searches for “guns” and “gunning.”  It will not match synonyms like “rifle.”

In short, we can think of Broad Match Modifier as a hybrid where there is one more exact match embedded in a broad match phrase. It can compliment a strong negative match strategy, and can help to make your AdGroups more “airtight.”

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | How To: PPC | Intermediate


About The Author: is Director of Advertising Services at Stone Temple Consulting. Crosby has extensive experience in search engine marketing including growing small accounts to multi-million dollar success stories at companies such as and

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