Google AdWords offers a variety of keyword matching options when it comes to controlling who sees your ads. One of those options is called the Broad Match Modifier.
It’s a popular choice because it gives you 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 longtail keywords.
Even better, though: there’s evidence that Broad Match Modifier could improve your return on investment.
In this article, we’ll explain Broad Match Modifier and cover the best ways to use it in your own AdWords campaigns.
Broad Match Modifier And Other Keyword Matching Options
When you create a campaign in AdWords, you associate it with keywords. Those keywords dictate who will see your ad.
It’s important to pick the right keywords because you don’t want to show your ads to people who aren’t in your target market. Otherwise, you might end up paying for clicks that won’t land you any sales.
However, it’s often the case that you want to attract people who use keywords similar to the ones that you associate with your campaign. After all, you don’t want to screen out potential customers just because they used a synonym.
For example, let’s say that 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 AdWords 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 might have noticed the phrase “or close variants” in the descriptions above and wondered: “What, exactly, is a close variant?”
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 stemmings.
However, if a person searches for “reduce credit card liabilities,” that phrase would not match. It’s a synonym and not a variant.
Close variants enable you to get more impressions without showing your ad to people who aren’t part of your market. You still should check your analytics for negative keyword opportunities, though.
Negative Keywords and Broad Match Modifier
If you’re unfamiliar with negative keywords, they 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 a negative keyword.
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 Broad Match Modifier.
Broad Match Modifier in Action
Now that we’ve covered the basics of keyword matching types, let’s look at how Broad Match Modifier works.
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 Broad Match Modifier.
In AdWords, you specify that the words “cheap” and “flights” must be included in the search term.
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.
How to Set up Broad Match Modifiers
Now that you know what Broad Match Modifiers do, let’s look at how to set them up in AdWords.
Start by signing in to your AdWords 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 a 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 included in the search term. Click “Save.”
Repeat that process for any other keywords you want to edit.
Benefits of Broad Match Modifier
At face value, it’s clear that Broad Match Modifier offers 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 Broad Match Modifier 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 Broad Match Modifier 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 notably, though, the CTR increased as the Broad Match Modifier 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, the 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 conducted an experiment on a 5-word search term. This time, though he found that the CTR increased dramatically as the Broad Match Modifier 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 broad match modified words increased. That means he improved the ad’s visibility by using Broad Match Modifiers.
Broad Match Modifier Strategies
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Broad Match Modifiers, let’s look at some ways to use them.
For starters, great 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 broad match modify all of 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 When Using Broad Match Modifier
It’s also important to monitor your analytics so that you can uncover negative keyword opportunities.
Remember: just because you’re using Broad Match Modifier, that doesn’t mean that you can ignore negative keywords. Your ad still might appear to people who aren’t in your target market.
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. That 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.
Use Broad Match Modifier to Modify Intent
Another great thing you can do with Broad Match Modifier is to 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 broad match 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 to 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.
Wrapping Up Broad Match Modifier
The Google AdWords 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 Broad Match Modifier yet, why not start today?