Getting to Know AdWords’ New Modified Broad Match

Google recently introduced a new keyword matching option in Google AdWords: modified broad match. As you can probably guess, modified broad match is similar to the traditional broad match option, but gives you a little more control as the advertiser. Let’s take a look at how this new option works. 

What is modified broad match?

Modified broad match is a new AdWords feature that allows pay-per-click (PPC) marketers to set keywords to a more targeted level than broad match, while still having a greater reach than phrase match or exact match keywords.

To use modified broad match, add a plus sign (+) in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. The word or words that are preceded by a (+) sign must appear in the user’s search query, exactly or in close variation. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations, acronyms, and stemmed forms.

The words that are not preceded by a plus sign may vary more significantly or not appear at all in the user’s search query, as with regular broad match.

This is potentially a very interesting and profitable opportunity for AdWords advertisers, as effective modified broad match keywords are likely to drive more traffic than phrase or exact match keywords, while attracting more qualified, targeted traffic than broad match.

What are some examples of modified broad match keywords?

Let’s start with the keyword “aromatherapy oils”—if this keyword was set to broad match, your ad might display in response to queries like “cooking oils” and “oil spill.” Not very targeted and not very good for your click-through rate, cost per click or Quality Score.

If you modify the keyword with a plus sign before “aromatherapy” (+aromatherapy oils), you’ll guarantee that only queries that include that word or close variations trigger your ad. For example, queries that trigger you ad might include:

  • aromatherapy
  • aromatherapeutic oils
  • aromatherapy massage
  • organic aromatherapy products

But your ad won’t display in response to queries like “massage oil.” As you can see, this gives you the ability to define your target audience much more closely, while still catching some interesting variants.

As another example, say your keyword is “anti wrinkle cream.” Set to broad match, your ad might show up in the results for queries like “wrinkle resistant pants” and “acne cream.” If you modify your keyword with plus signs like so (anti +wrinkle +cream), only queries with close variations of both “wrinkle” and “cream” will prompt your ad.

Hasn’t broad match always worked this way?

Originally, AdWords’ default broad match type was more restrictive than its current broad match feature. Close variations of your keyword could trigger your ad, but the field of possible queries that could trigger it was narrower. For example, the words in your keyword phrase could appear in any order, and along with any other words, but they all had to be there.

Eventually broad match became less targeted (as it is today), and many Google AdWords users complained. These advertisers felt that the change was allowing their ads to display against terms that weren’t relevant to their offerings, requiring them to develop extensive lists of negative keywords. Negative keywords are crucial for high return on investment when using broad match, but some users felt the new broad match was still too inclusive. For example, one user complained that “zebras near Chicago” showed up in his search query report for the keyword “widgets near Chicago.”

Now AdWords users can get the same control offered by the first version of broad match, but they also have the option to use today’s broader broad match.

How do I enable modified broad match?

In your AdWords account, click on the Keywords tab and select the keyword phrase you want to edit. In the Type column, click on the current match type and choose Modified Broad Match from the drop-down menu. Edit your keyword as necessary with (+) signs.

Is modified broad match is a good idea for my campaign?

Unless you are perfectly happy with your campaign performance given your current keyword settings, it’s a great idea to give modified broad match a try. If you’re mostly using phrase and exact match because you like to have more control over your keywords, you might find that modified broad match gives you a high degree of control while increasing your reach, impressions and clicks. If you’re mostly using standard broad match, you might find that enabling modified broad match on some of your keywords reduces wasteful spend on irrelevant traffic, and improves Quality Score and other key metrics.

As with any change to your AdWords campaign, be sure to keep close track of how your campaign performance evolves. Take note of how clicks, CPCs, conversion rates, and ROI change. Helpfully, Google lets you produce a performance report with information solely about your modified broad match keywords.

Elisa Gabbert is the Content Development Manager at WordStream, a provider of PPC tools and an advanced keyword research tool to help PPC advertisers discover profitable head, mid and long-tail keywords.


Posted by admin in Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, keyword research, social media on September 7,2010

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