Use Google’s Broad Match Modifier for improved search results

Innovation seems to be happening continuously at Google, which results in better and better tools for people working with the web. A classic case in point is the Adwords targeting feature called Broad Match Modifier (BMM) which was introduced to the UK and Canada in May, and then rolled out worldwide in July 2010. Basically, as Google explains it, what the BMM does is give you “greater reach with your keywords than phrase match, and more control than broad match”.

There are four existing keyword match types in Adwords: Broad Match, Phrase Match, Exact Match and Negative Match. A good paid search account needs to have at least Broad match and Phrase match keywords campaigns, which will capture queries that the limited exact matches may miss out on.

Broad match modification is a welcome addition to the SEO arsenal. Traditional broad match, which was extended in 2006, can rack up much-needed clicks from irrelevant synonyms but will increase overall campaign costs, while phrase match often limits the reach of a potential search query. The broad match modifier comfortably straddles the middle ground between both, hence giving the advertiser better control.

If you are not already using this modifier, then implementing it to existing keyword sets is quite easy and straightforward. This is done by placing a plus sign (+) directly in front of a word in a broad match keyword, i.e. rugby boots can have the modified variations:”+rugby boots”, or “rugby +boots” as well as “+rugby +boots”.

For best practice, you are advised to create brand new keywords rather than edit existing campaign keywords. Doing so narrows the range of queries to plurals, singulars, common misspellings and abbreviations.

The main advantage of BMM is that is does reduce broad match keywords from the same campaign from competing against each other. Furthermore, ads are more likely to be relevant, which increases click-through-rates (CTR), and consequently conversion rates, as traffic is more qualified.

However, this is not to say that we should completely do away with broad match campaigns. All match types do have their place in the paid search world. If, for instance, a broad match is meeting its targets and running efficiently, then modifying the keywords may limit its potential. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If you had been completed turned off by broad match in the past, it is definitely worth a test.

Keep in mind these five points when implementing BMM:

  1. Attach the plus sign modifier to at least one word in a broad match keyword and test different variations
  2. More modified words in a keyword will limit the range of queries that will trigger the keyword
  3. Ensure that there are no spaces between the ‘+’ and the word being modified
  4. Remember to include relevant negative keywords, at either campaign or ad group level
  5. Create new modified keywords and don’t switch your existing broad match keywords to modified broad match keywords



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