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Modified Broad Match -- Broad Match as it Should Be

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If you're like most Google AdWords advertisers, you've probably used broad match in your PPC account to try to cast a wide net. And if you're like most AdWords advertisers, you've probably looked at your Search Query Performance reports and thought, "Why did my ad show for that search phrase?" Sometimes, broad match is just too broad.

In the early days of AdWords, Google had three match types: broad match, phrase match, and exact match. Exact match meant your ad would only appear when the search query matched your bidded keyphrase exactly; phrase match meant your ad would appear when the search query included your bidded keyphrase with the words in the exact order you specified; and broad match, back then, meant your ad would appear when the search query included the words in your bidded keyphrase, in any order.

Around 2006, Google changed from traditional broad match to expanded broad match. The "new" broad match option displayed ads not only on searches including your bidded keywords, but on additional terms "related to your keywords."

There was a difference, though, between what Google thought was related and what was actually related. Advertisers bemoaned the loss of traditional broad match; examples abounded of "broad match gone wild" wreaking havoc with conversion rates.

For years, the only way to prevent ads from showing on some of the irrelevant search phrases was to build out a long list of negative keywords. Even then, broad match still went wild at times.

In May, PPC advertisers' dreams came true: Google launched a new match type called the broad match modifier, commonly known as modified broad match. Initially, the feature was available in the U.K. and Canada; it rolled out globally in mid-July, to shouts of joy from advertisers.

If you haven't already done so, you should strongly consider making extensive use of modified broad match in your PPC campaigns. Let me illustrate why with an example.

One of our clients is a law firm specializing in aviation accident law. PPC competition on legal terms is fierce -- bids in the $50 per click range are common. We've used broad match with this client to help capture some of the less-expensive long tail keyphrases. However, even with a comprehensive negative keyword list in place, broad match still sometimes went awry.

Just prior to the U.S. launch of modified broad match, our law firm's ad for the broad match term "aviation lawyer" was displayed on this search phrase: "what the laws of flying with glass bongs." Needless to say, this is nowhere close to relevant for our client.

Enter modified broad match. One of the really cool things about modified broad match is that it can be used on one or more of the words in the bidded keyphrase.

Per Google's instructions, "To implement the modifier, just put a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. Each word preceded by a plus symbol has to appear in your potential customer's search exactly or as a close variant. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like "floor" and "flooring"). Synonyms (like "quick" and "fast") and related searches (like "flowers" and "tulips") aren't considered close variants."

In the client example above, we could modify just the word "aviation," like this: "+aviation lawyer." With this, "lawyer" might still get matched to "laws," but "aviation" wouldn't get matched to "flying." Or, to be really safe, we could modify both words: "+aviation +lawyer."

We've had huge success already in reducing irrelevant queries by implementing modified broad match. Modified broad match reduces impression volume, but we've seen dramatic increases in CTR and conversion rate, without the limitations in keyword reach that come with phrase or broad match.

Incidentally, you won't find "modified broad match" as a match type option in AdWords Editor; however, you can still add or edit keywords with this option. You'll need to manually add the plus symbol before the keyword(s) to which you want to apply the modifier.

If you haven't already done so, give modified broad match a try. I think you'll like it.

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