Google AdWords Launches New Broad Match Modifier

Earlier today, Google Adwords on their blog announced that they will be adding a new feature on Adwords, available at this time only to Canadian and United Kingdom residents, called “Modified Broad Match.”

The way traditional “broad match” has worked in the past is that, adding a keyword phrase without quotations allows for certain words to be moved around, and even replaced. For example, the phrase “windows computer” (quotations are just being used for clarity purposes) on broad match can match “computer windows” and even “macintosh computer” (“windows” gets replaced since “computer” is in the phrase. If the client sells Windows computers, why would that client want his ad to appear on search terms related to its main competitor? The fact that the client’s ad will show up for such a term makes a waste of a good impression, in turn reducing the click-through rate of the keyword. This is an important point because a reduced click-through rate has a direct effect on quality score and cost per click.

Before, one needed to place keywords, and multiple variations of them, on  “phrase” or “exact” match to counter this. “Phrase Match” is where the phrase “windows computer” can have words before and after the phrase, but the phrase itself doesn’t change. For example, “microsoft windows computer” will work, but “microsoft computer windows” will not.

As a hybrid of phrase and broad match, “Modified Broad Match” involves adding a “plus sign” (+) right before an intended word in a keyword phrase. In the example Google provided, while “formal shoes” on broad match can be matched with “formal shoes,” “formal footwear,” and even “evening footwear,” “+formal +shoes” can be matched with “formal evening shoes,” “formal summer shoes,” etc.

In addition, George Mitchie, in the Rimm Kauffman Group blog, has many other examples of how Modified Broad Match works.

This seriously changes the way keywords are studied. Only time will tell how this will affect keyword pricing. Also, it will be interesting to see how certain research tools, including Google’s own tools, will reflect this addition to what Google already offers.

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  • Andy @ FirstFound

    Strange that they’re testing this in the UK and Canada. I’ll grab our PPC bod and see if they’ve noticed.


  • Alan @ Calculate Marketing

    Thought I’d share some research I did recently on modified broad match keywords, which you and your readers may find of interest:

    I tested 3 Google AdWords campaigns over a 3 month period and found that keywords which had broad match modification had significantly lower CPCs and higher CTRs than those without modification.

    Would love to hear what you think.


  • rhecht

    Solid material Alan! We will definitely test this out now that this has been tested.