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The AdWords Broad Match Modifier: A Breath of Fresh Air

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In case you missed it, there’s a recent addition to the match types you can use in your Google AdWords campaigns.

Having changed the broad match algorithm a number of times in recent years, we’ve always recommended caution when bidding on broad matches, instead preferring phrase and exact match keywords with a smaller number of broads which need careful, regular management to succeed.

Recently, Google rolled out the “broad match modifier” to tighten up the way in which it matches broad keywords.

What is the broad match modifier?

First, you need to understand that a standard broad match also includes “expanded matching”. For example, the word ‘shoe’ in your keyword could also expand to slipper, boot, stiletto, brogue, trainers and the word ‘ladies’ might also match girls, womens, divas. Multiply those variations out and you’ll get a huge range of variations your broad keyword could match – some relevant, some irrelevant.

With that in mind, ideally you should be bidding on all of those relevant variations anyway and hopefully, Google will match the right search with the right keyword (it won’t always).

It is easy to see how the expanded match could cause problems in the accuracy of your targeting. The broad match modifier seems to be an attempt to use the broad match algorithm without expanded match, which is great news.

How to use the broad match modifier

To use it, you’ll just need a ‘+’ in front of each specific word in your keyword. e.g. +ladies + shoes. Google will match typos, plurals and other variations; ladys shoes, ladies shoe, shoes for ladies, shoe lady etc, but will no longer match womens and girls or boots and slippers as it would with the expanded match.

It is also possible, therefore, to modify specific words in your keyword, but not others if you wish; e.g. ladies +shoes uses expandedmatch on ‘ladies’, but not on ‘shoes’.

As ever, try it with care, test it and measure it.

Would we advocate changing all broads to use the broad match modifier? It depends on your market, your product, your budget, your strategy and how advanced your campaign is already. Best to discuss that with one of our analysts.

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