Google Ads offers a variety of keyword matching options when it comes to controlling who sees your ads.
One of those options is called Broad Match Modifier, which shows ads whether or not exact keywords or their variants are present in the search query.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the match type and how to use it effectively in your ad campaigns.
What You’ll Learn:
- The differences between the keyword match options available in Google Ads
- What broad match modifier is, specifically
- An example case
- The benefits of using broad match modifier
- How to up match type in Google Ads
- Strategies for best use
Keyword match types determine the amount of control you have over Google searches that trigger your ads.
Broad match, essentially, gives advertisers the best of both worlds: a match based on exact keywords and their variants while offering some flexibility on the overall phrase. It’s especially useful if you’re trying to match on long-tail keywords.
Even better, though, is that there’s evidence that broad match could improve your return on investment.
First, What Are the Different Keyword Match Options?
When you create a campaign in Google Ads, you associate it with keywords. Those keywords dictate who will see your ad.
It’s important to pick the right keywords to ensure you’re only showing ads to the people in your target audience.
However, it’s often the case that you want to attract people who use keywords similar to ones that you associate with your campaign. After all, you don’t want to screen out potential customers just because they didn’t use the exact keyword or phrase.
For example, let’s say you’re running a debt consolidation company. In that case, you might specify an ad campaign that appears to people who use the keyword “reduce credit card debt.”
But what if a person uses the phrase “lower credit card debt”? You’d probably still want to match on that phrase as well.
That’s why Google Ads allows you to use keyword modifiers. That way, your ad will appear to people who search on similar phrases.
However, there are different types of keyword modifiers. Here are the options you can choose from:
- Broad Match – Ads will appear to people who use synonyms, misspellings, related searches, and other relevant terms. Broad Match is the default keyword modifier.
- Phrase Match – Ads will appear to people who use the exact phrase (or close variants) you specified in your search term.
- Exact Match – Ads will appear to people who use the exact search term (or close variants) that you specify.
- Broad Match Modifier – Ads will appear to people who use exact words (or their close variants) within the search phrase. You specify which words must appear.
You probably noticed the phrase “or close variants” mentioned multiple times.
Close variants are simply different forms of your target keywords. It’s a good question because you might think at first blush that if you specify an exact match, then you want that exact word in the search term. That’s not always the case, though.
For example, if you specify “reduce credit card debt” as your keyword, you’d probably also want to match on the phrase “reducing credit card debt.”
That’s a keyword variant. Other types of variants include abbreviations, misspellings, acronyms, plurals, and stemming.
However, if a person searches for “reduce credit card liabilities,” that phrase would not match. It’s a synonym and not a variant.
Got It. So, What’s a Broad Match Modifier?
A broad match modifier allows your keyword to match a very wide range of possible keywords.
But unlike broad match, it still gives you some control over the process. Using the modifier version, your ad will only be triggered when searchers use keywords you have marked with a + sign.
Regular broad match triggers an ad to appear when a user searches for the specified keyword, a similar phrase, close variation, related searchers, or other relevant searches.
For example, if your keyword is “car tires,” a broad match type could pair your ad with searches for “car accessories,” “tire reviews,” and “auto parts.” Some of these searches may be relevant to your business, but others may not.
Because regular broad match shows ads to such a wide net of users, your ad will likely be shown to a wide net of users who won’t necessarily be in your target audience.
But by using the modifier version of broad match, you can make sure your ad only shows to people whose searches included the words “car” and “tires” by labeling them with a +.
This will narrow the reach of your ad, which will likely help deliver it to a more targeted, relevant audience. It will, however, decrease the overall traffic.
Close variants are also included with a modifier, including misspellings, acronyms, paraphrases, and synonyms. Modified broad match may also serve close variants on your individual keywords.
Google gives the following example. Say you’ve indicated your must-include keywords as +hiring +diesel +mechanic. Using close variants, Google could also show your ad to someone searching for “diesel mechanic part time jobs,” because it’s closely related to your given keywords. It would not, however, show just for “part-time jobs.
Modified Broad Match: Example Case
Let’s say you’re offering inexpensive travel packages. Currently, you’re running an ad campaign that targets people who are looking for cheap flights to Tokyo.
You decide to target the keyword “cheap flights Tokyo.” To make sure that Google shows your ad to people who use synonyms, you select the broad match keyword matching option.
However, you’re concerned that your ad costs might spin out of control if Google displays the ad to people who use related searches. So you decide to use a broad modifier.
In Google Ads, you specify that the words “cheap” and “flights” must be included in the search term by adding a + sign next to them.
Now, if somebody searches for “cheapest flight Tokyo,” Google will show your ad. That’s because “cheapest” and “flight” are variants of the words “cheap” and “flights.”
Of course, the ad will also appear to people who search for “cheap flights to Tokyo.”
But Google won’t show your ad to somebody searches for “inexpensive flights to Tokyo.” That’s because “inexpensive” is a synonym to “cheap” but not a variant.
What Are the Benefits of Using Broad Match Modifier?
At face value, it’s clear that modified broad match keywords offer benefits in terms of ROI. That’s because you can use it to make sure your ad only appears to potential customers.
There’s also some research to back up the idea that this is probably the best keyword modifier option.
Alan Mitchell at Calculate Marketing conducted a series of experiments with the various modifier types. Although the results might not apply to your campaigns, they’re worth considering.
For starters, Mitchell studied a two-word search term that included a brand name. He found that using a modified broad match type with both words included generated a higher click-through rate (CTR) and a higher conversion rate. In that case, though, the cost per click (CPC) was also a little higher than some of the other options.
Even more notable, though, the CTR increased as the match became more specific. It went from 1.36% all the way to 4.65%. The conversion rate increased from 3.03% to 4.23%.
Mitchell also compared multi-word search terms with the various modifier options, including Exact Match, Phrase Match, Broad Match, and Broad Match Modifier. In that case, he found that the CTR dropped from 3.1% to 1.4%. At the same time, the CPC went up from $1.87 to $2.12.
Of course, that corresponding drop and increase is a good thing if it means you’re getting a higher conversion rate. That’s likely the case if the ad appeals to more people in your target market.
Mitchell also experimented on a 5-word search term. This time, though, he found that the CTR increased dramatically as the number of modified keywords increased and became more specific. He also found that CPC dropped.
That’s the right direction for both of those metrics.
Specifically, the CTR went from 1.2% with just one word broad match modified (one word with a plus sign in front of it) all the way up to 4.6% when all 5 words were modified. The CPC dropped from $2.24 to $1.83.
Incidentally, in all those cases, Mitchell found that the Quality Score increased as the number of modified broad match keywords increased, which in turn increases an ad’s visibility.
How to Set up Broad Match Modifiers
To specify your match type, start by signing in to your Google Ads account. On the left-hand sidebar, select the “Keywords.”
Click on the big plus button that you see on the main screen. Select your Ad Group.
In the “Add Keywords” text area, enter the search terms you’d like to use. Add a plus sign (+) in front of the words that must be included.
To continue with the example above, you’d enter “+cheap +flights Tokyo.” That will ensure that your ad only appears to people who use the words “cheap” and “flights” (or their close variants) in the search phrase.
Finally, click “Save.”
If you’re already using the Broad Match option and you’d like to add an AdWords modifier to one or more keywords, you can do that as well.
Start by clicking on “Keywords” on the left-hand menu. Then, hover over the keyword you want to modify. Click the pencil icon to edit it.
Just insert the plus sign (+) in front of any keyword that you want to be included in the search term. Click “Save.”
Strategies For Best Use
Now that we’ve covered the basics of broad match modifiers, let’s look at some ways to use them.
For starters, separate Ad Groups for the search terms you want to modify. Make sure that you also create landing pages specific to those terms.
Also, experiment with different levels of modification.
As we’ve seen, it looks like you stand to benefit when you modify all the words in a search term. That might not be the case with your business, though.
See which modified words give you the best CTR and conversion rate. You might also find that some combinations reduce your CPC significantly.
Don’t Ignore Negative Keywords
Negative keywords enable you to prevent your ad from appearing to people who aren’t part of your target market.
For example, if you sell women’s hats, you might want to exclude people who are searching for baseball hats. In that case, you’d specify “baseball” as one of your negative keywords.
It’s important to specify negative keywords so that you don’t let your advertising costs get out of control. You’ll likely need to specify some negative keywords, even if you use a broad keyword.
If you need help uncovering negative keyword opportunities, monitor your analytics to see if any unrelated keywords are triggering your ad.
If you notice that people are seeing your ad when they’re searching for words unrelated to your business, include those words in your negative keyword list. Doing so will likely save you some money.
Look for Exact Search Terms
You might still find a few outstanding opportunities to land sales with Exact Match. Fortunately, you can uncover those opportunities when you use Broad Match Modifier.
How? Again, check your analytics.
If you see that people are using an exact search phrase over and over again, consider creating an Ad Group with just that exact phrase. It could give you a great ROI.
Find Visitors Who Search With Long-Tail Keywords
Another great way to use these keywords is to target people who use long-tail keywords in their search queries.
For example, let’s say you’re targeting people who want to reduce credit card debt. You’re using “reduce credit card debt” as a modifier keyword.
Now, suppose someone goes to Google and searches for “how can I reduce my credit card debt?”
Guess what? Your keyword will match because you selected broad match modifier.
Similarly, people who search for “best ways to reduce credit card debt”, “steps to reducing my credit card debt”, “Dave Ramsey’s guide to reducing credit card debt” and so on will match.
In fact, that’s one of the best selling points of using modified broad match keywords. It enables you to target people who use long-tail keywords that don’t specifically match the exact phrase you specify.
And here’s a pro-tip: check your Google Ads analytics to see which search terms people are using to find your ad. Then, optimize your content for those search terms.
That’s an especially great idea if you see some of the same search phrases repeatedly in your reports. You can produce some content around those phrases and generate some more organic traffic.
Use Modified Broad Match Keywords to Modify Intent
Another great thing you can do is modify intent within the search phrase.
Remember: there are some words in search terms that carry purchase intent. People who use those words are generally ready to open up their wallets.
For example, if somebody searches for “cheap flights to Tokyo,” you can be pretty sure that the person is looking for an inexpensive plane ticket to Tokyo. That’s a search term that carries purchase intent.
Use broad match modifiers to modify those types of words. For the search term above, that means you’d modify the search term as follows: “+cheap flights to Tokyo.”
There are other ways to gauge intent, though. Words like “sale,” “review,” “buy,” and “shop” also carry purchase intent.
Make sure you modify those words as well if they’re suitable for your business model.
Sometimes, people get very specific in their searches. That’s why you should consider modifying attributes.
For example, if you’re selling projectors, you’d probably want to create a separate Ad Group for portable projectors. In that case, you’d specify the search term “+portable projector.”
There are other types of attributes that you can modify as well, including size, weight, and color. Think about the options that people in your target market will be searching for and include them in your portfolio of keywords.
1. Is It Best To Use Broad Match Modifiers For My Campaigns?
The only way to find out is to give it a try.
Testing and tracking campaign performance is always the key to determining what works best.
If you find that using broad match modifiers for your campaigns seems to be improving your return on investment, stick to it. If not, you may want to stick with broad, phrase and exact matches.
2. Do I Give Up Some Control Over My Advertising?
Sure…maybe a little. But the truth of the matter is that using a modified broad match actually strikes a pretty good balance between broad matches and having keyword control.
This can be especially important if you are starting a new campaign and need to test the proverbial waters.
By using modified broad matches you can increase reach without wild PPC spending.
In addition, your broad match keywords will provide valuable data so you can adjust your campaigns accordingly.
3. Can I Run A Campaign Using Only Broad Match Modifier Keywords?
You can, but doing so can eat up a lot of your ad spend budget.
However, other factors that will determine your cost-per-click are quality score, maximum bids on keywords, etc.
4. Phrase Match Or Exact Match—Which One Is Better?
With Phrase Match terms, your search must include words in quotations in the exact order you’ve written it.
For example, if your keyword is “blue coffee cup,” then your ad will be shown for queries like “blue coffee cup for sale” or “blue coffee cup and saucer set.”
Phrase Match also shows for the close variants and can include words both before and after the phrase.
Exact Match offers a much narrower reach than Phrase Match. In this case, your ad will be shown only when a search query precisely matches the term contained within brackets. For example, [blue coffee cup] will only serve your ad when you run that specific search.
With Phrase Match being more expansive than Exact Match, Phrase Match can be a great option if you’re running a targeted campaign that’s hyper-focused on smaller audiences and select keyword groups.
5. Who Should Be Using A Broad Match Modifier?
A Broad Match Modifier is ideal for those seeking more control than Broad Match and more coverage than Phrase Match, including hardcore exact and phrase match advertisers.
After all, Google typically doesn’t favor super refined ad campaigns.
Broad Match Modifiers help round out your search term reports.
6. When Should You Use The Broad Match Modifier?
If you’re looking for a new way to increase your qualified traffic, you can use the Broad Match Modifier to capture more long-tail searches, control your budget more effectively, and cast a wider net tp capture searches for certain niche products and services.
7. How Do You Know If You Are Selecting The Right Match Type?
It’s important to think strategically about the match type that makes sense for each of your terms instead of just using them all.
Google recommends using a broad-to-narrow strategy.
Begin with Broad Match keywords to maximize reach. From there, monitor the performance of your keywords over time and pay close attention to negative terms.
The Google Ads broad match modifier option is a great way to reach people in your market.
It can give you a much higher CTR while simultaneously reducing your CPC. If you haven’t started using it yet, why not start today?