AdWords – A Guide to Broad Match Modifier

A feature that has recently been rolled out for UK and Canadian AdWords users (May 2010) and soon to be available to all AdWords advertisers, broad match modifier gives you greater control over your AdWords keywords lists.

Using Keyword Matching

Keyword matching is an AdWords tool that helps you control the distribution of your ad. It allows your keywords to become even more targeted, so you can precisely manage who sees your ads.

You can set each keyword in your keyword list to have one of five settings. To use a keyword matching option you just add the appropriate punctuation to your keyword.

Experienced AdWords advertisers 1matching will be familiar with the different options: broad match (the default option), phrase match, exact match, and negative match. However broad match modifier has only been recently introduced. It allows keywords to have the versatility of broad match (match search queries in any order, misspellings, singular/plural form, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like ‘fly’ and ‘flying’), but also keeps them confined, so synonyms and related searches won’t trigger your ads.

The punctuation used is the +symbol

Example: If your keyword was ‘+pink +camera’, you are able to target users searching for ‘pink digital cameras’, ‘pink canon camera’ and ‘video cameras that are pink’, but you won’t end up targeting users searching for ‘videos of pink’ the musician or just the keyword ‘pink’. In order for the ad to be triggered the two words (or their misspellings etc.) must be contained somewhere in the search query.

For these reasons broad match modifier is considered similar to phrase match but much more flexible, and more targeted than broad match.

Tip: The modifier doesn’t need to be applied to all words in a keyword phrase.

Example: If your keyword was ‘pink +camera’ only the word camera would be restricted and the word pink would then trigger whatever Google considered relevant, such as ‘salmon’ or ‘fuchsia’. In this example if someone search for ‘fuchsia canon camera’ or ‘video cameras that are fuchsia’ your ad would be eligible to appear, but if they searched for ‘pink videos’ your ad would not appear. In order for the ad to be triggered the word camera would have to be contained somewhere in the search query.


Broad match modifier makes your keywords even more targeted and helps drive the right customers to your website. Advertisers who in the past mainly used phrase and exact match have found that adding modified keywords has increased campaign clicks and conversions, while providing more precise control than with broad match.

When testing out this new feature it’s best to keep your existing broad match keywords active, add new modified broad match keywords, and compare their performance. Doing this means that over time you will see if this works for you and whether you should be setting higher max bids for your modified keywords or not.

Sinead is the operations manager of the Dublin based Internet Marketing Company Redfly. Apart from Web Design and SEO, Redfly offers AdWords Campaign Management for medium to large businesses and free AdWords Training as well as up to date news on the Redfly Online Marketing Blog. Head on over for lots more free pay per click management guides and how tos.


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