Harvest Keywords & Scale Up with Broad Modified Campaigns and Exact Match Negatives

By , guestblogger


So if you haven’t already implemented broad match modifier terms into your existing PPC strategy I hope this article will provide some insight and inspiration for taking the plunge.  I was recently tasked with reviewing the PPC campaigns in my new role at Ties.com and was both sad and happy with what I found.  I was sad to find that there was 1 campaign with 2 ad groups and a plethora of mixed match type keywords in the same campaign.  While there isn’t much to be happy about with that campaign structure, I was happy to realize there was a great deal of opportunity and low hanging fruit we could capitalize on.  This blog post will walk you through how we restructured our accounts to double our conversions, lower our CPC’s, and have a scalable campaign!  Mo Money, Mo Problems… Don’t believe it!


Step 1:  Separate campaigns by match type

By separating campaigns by match type we are able to effectively balance our volume and CPA.  Our preference is using a 2 campaign approach, 1 for Broad Modified terms, and another for Exact match terms.  With broad modified terms the need for phrase campaigns is essentially eliminated as long as the Broad Modified campaign is built out correctly.

**Important Note**

When creating your broad modified campaign it is important to be sure and include every term listed in your exact match campaign as a broad modified version.  Even though +black +ties will cause your ad to fire for the query “black silk ties”, your quality score will be better if you include +black +silk +ties as a broad modified term.

The easiest way to do this is by using Adwords Editor.  Simply select the Exact match campaign and the keyword tab, Ctrl + A to select them all and then paste them into an excel spreadsheet.

Now to convert them just select all of the keywords and paste into this great broad match modifier converter tool.  Copy the results and paste back into excel, but don’t worry if you see #NAME? instead of your keywords.  Simply highlight all of the keywords and do a find and replace.  Find all instances of “=” and replace with nothing and voila you have all of your keywords in broad modified match type.  Now simply edit the campaign name, replace Exact with BMM and your campaign is ready to be pasted back into editor.


Step 2:  Setting up negatives to avoid cross pollination

In order to make sure you’re BMM campaign isn’t competing with your Exact match campaign you need to setup a negative keyword list.  This will ensure that your BMM campaign is only picking up impressions on keyword variations that weren’t already covered in your Exact match campaign.  It is incredibly difficult to optimize for conversions when you aren’t addressing cross pollination.  The Exact Match Negatives list should include exact match negatives for every keyword you have in your exact match campaign.  I recommend updating this list monthly or quarterly depending on how much keyword mining you are doing.

Step 3:  Adjusting bids and budget for BMM

With BMM campaigns I typically recommend launching with your bids at about 30% less than they are set in exact and a lower daily budget.  The main goal of a BMM campaign is to collect data on search terms that you are missing from your exact match campaign.  For this reason I recommend using lower bids and budgets.

Step 4:  Keyword Mining

After about 3 days or so your Search Term reports will start populating data and this is where the restructure can really start to pay off.  By spending time in your search term reports you will obviously find any negative keywords that you may have missed, but more importantly you should be finding lots of suggestions for new Exact match keywords.








By going through your BMM campaign one ad group at a time you can quickly harvest good keyword variations and add them to the correct ad group in your Exact match campaign.


Another best practice I recommend is to go ahead and add the search terms you find as BMM variations to your BMM campaign.  Using this approach allows you to consistently grow both your BMM and Exact match keyword lists using a data driven approach.  Keep in mind you may need to create new ad groups for some of these keywords.

Step 5:  Review your performance data

In order to streamline the analysis of the data on new keywords and ad groups you can either use Adwords labels directly in the interface or use one of my favorite excel functions, the great Vlookup!

If you aren’t familiar with how to use Vlookups there are several good articles here on PPCHero, my favorite is the Quality Score Analysis using Vlookups video by Brad Geddes.

I hope the tips I’ve shared will help you increase conversions by better campaign structure using match type segmentation.  Until next time,  happy keyword harvesting!

James Scaggs is the Director of Marketing for ecommerce retail sites Ties.com and Scarves.com, based in Orange County California.

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25 thoughts on “Harvest Keywords & Scale Up with Broad Modified Campaigns and Exact Match Negatives

  1. Amanzi Digital

    Thanks for the great article. I plan to start using this technique in my campaigns going forward! Would there be any merit in having a third ad group using the same technique for phrase match keywords?

    1. Tiesdotcom

      The need for phrase match is practically eliminated when broad modified is implemented correctly. I find that it just creates an additional 3rd campaign to manage and I have never been able to find significant value in a 3rd phrase match campaign that merits the extra work.

      1. Justin Sous

        A very interesting article and “take” on account set up, and I’m always interested in hearing other opinions; however, I have to disagree with a lot of this!

        Disregarding phrase match and relying on bmm will effect your keywords QS and cpc. Why not just use bmm to replace exact match as well? We use the different match types because it gives us more data to work off of in terms of what the query is people are typing in. I do not recommend ousting phrase match altogether.

        Also, this account structure may work for a site dedicated to “Ties” or “Scarves”, but for accounts that have multiple services (perhaps hundreds), this account structure is not ideal.

        On another note, it sounds like this strategy is being used for the purpose of keyword mining. I’m just not understanding why separating the campaigns in this way would give you any more data in the See Search Terms than if you had the same bmm keywords mixed in with other kw match types of the same category.

  2. Charly Molina

    I use to read all your articles, and found really helpful. In this case I am not agree with you at all.

    Different campaigns depending on the keyword match??!!
    This is quite crazy, as you would have to have a budget per product or service, that you couldn’t control how to share it in different campaigns.

    Apart from that I can’t also understand how this will improve the results. Lower CPC’s ???!! why??

    1. Sam OwenSam Owen

      Although I normally only do it by ad group, there is a logic to separating out match types. If you have all your match types in the same ad group, broad and phrase matches can still be triggered for the exact query. That can mean your data isn’t great and you can’t see exactly how many clicks/conversions etc. are related to each of your exact, phrase and broad terms. By putting them in their own ad groups and adding negative exact and negative phrase matches you can ensure that they won’t cannibalize each other.

    2. Tiesdotcom

      Hey Charly,

      Thanks for your comments!

      I find that is extremely useful to have separate budgets for broad campaigns vs exact campaigns, typically b/c broad keywords will eat up your daily budget much quicker than exact match. By separating them into different campaigns you can set a low daily budget on broad campaigns with the goal being to collect data that you can keyword harvest later without having to spend too much money.
      As for lowering CPC’s, if you use broad modified campaigns to determine which ad groups to build out in exact match you will end up with more tightly knit ad groups in exact match which will increase your Quality Score.

      1. Charly Molina

        Hi Tiesdotcom,

        Thank for your comments, but I have a big doubt now….

        If you have one keyword in different match types: exact, phrase and broad; by the rule of match restrictions, Google will use the keyword search by the user and use the most restrictive match = exact; against the others.

        This can be checked showing in the search terms reports of the broad keywords, that never been activated if there is a keyword with exact match that match with the search term.

        So in this case, splitting the keywords by match will not help on manage the budget by match, that in fact will make really difficult, manage the budget by product or service, and the only benefit could be a slightly increase in QS, but not sure if too much as to do it.

        Thanks again for your comments!

        Best Regards!

      2. Reed Gusmus, Atlanta SEO

        We’re all after lower CPCs, however I have never been able to drop an exact match cpc to the cpc of a broad match modified. With this, the number of impressions is also smaller…so does anyone run campaigns just on broad modified?

        1. PPC Hero AllyPPC Hero

          Here at PPC Hero we’ll have ad groups split out by match type, but they’ll generally be housed in the same campaign as the other match types. We use embedded negatives in each of the ad groups to ensure that phrase and exact get the traffic they deserve.

          We’re pretty much seen what you have when it comes to CPCs. Modified broad gets the lion’s share of impressions, but their CPCs are typically much lower than the exacts.

    3. Pedro Martheyn

      I do think that separating match types by ad groups can get quiet crazy and strongly disagree on separating them by campaign. Specially when you have quiet the large account, this could get out of control and you can end up with thousands and thousands of ad groups/campaigns. Not a best practice and certainly not easy to manage as is very VERY time consuming. Tiesdotcom, I think that if you are worry about the broad match keyword consuming all the budget there are two things you can do, and you should do, first make sure your exact match is bid higher than the other two match types that will give an exact match advantage over the other keywords, second why don’t you use automate rules? pause the keyword when……. you know that could help you a lot. Splitting accounts like you suggested is okay for SMALL campaigns, but not for medium and large campaigns.

  3. Shreyansh Modi

    For keyword discovery BMM is surely better than BM. With a comprehensive negative keywords list one can make the most out of BMM. Once you have Keywords from the step-4 you can write high CTR ads using DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion).

    Great Article, Thanks for the Share 🙂

  4. Tom - FIMS

    Very intersting stuff, reading comments below I reckon it also comes down to the methods people find easier to work with as well as available budget.

    Best practice for a spend of a few hundred a month very different for spend of thousands a month as profit + loss margins much greater.

    Personally where possible I prefer to stick to exact match due to Google Adwords wild interpretation of relevance of keyword impressions even when using phrase match.

    Tom Andrews

  5. Stephen Claridge

    Eelke, we have seen the same issue with exact match KWs showing up as low search volume. As you mentioned this becomes a problem when you negative the KW from the BMM campaign to prevent cross pollination. Now we no longer add the negative exact match to the BMM, for long tail KWs…

  6. Ryan Grant

    Can you elaborate on this point more? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    The Exact Match Negatives list should include exact match negatives for every keyword you have in your exact match campaign.”

  7. PPC Hero AllyPPC Hero

    Hi Marissa,

    This is just an issue with the keyword diagnosis tool. When you’re diagnosing your keywords they’ll run your query exactly as the keyword is – so in this example it would run a search of hotels near airport and see if your ad was displayed. Since you have the negative exact it’ll trigger that warning for you, as your ad will not be showing for that specific query.

    Your ad will, however, be showing perfectly fine for all other iterations of queries that include the words hotel, near and airport.

    Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

  8. paul_t7

    Great article guys. I’ve set mine up, but I fear I’ve misinterpreted something along the way. I’m working no a friends account, he’s an electrician.

    I have an exact match of [Electrician London] and a BMM of +electrician +london in a separate BMM campaign. I added the negative keyword -[electrician london] to the BMM campaign. Am I following this correctly?

    Thanks a lot

    1. PPC Hero AllyPPC Hero

      Hey Paul,

      You’ve set it up correctly. Now your exact mad ad group will get all impressions while your BMM ad group will get anything that has both electrician and london as long as it isn’t the exact query electrician london.

  9. PPC Hero AllyPPC Hero

    Hi Manuel,

    Sorry for the delay in response! Please accept our apologies.

    Everything looks good with your example. In step three (BMM), though, you do not need to have both negative phrase and negative exact keywords. Negative phrase will by design eliminate the negative exact version of the search. It won’t cause any harm if you have both types of negatives, but the exact match negative is unnecessary. Hope that helps!

  10. HS

    Thanks for a great article.
    However, I am having an issue adding exact match negatives to a Broad match campaign. The system says:

    “These entries could not be added due to the following reasons:
    You cannot exclude Keywords that are targeted.”

    Anyone else having this issue?
    kind regards

  11. Filippo

    James, are you still using this approach after the enhanced campaing introduction and all the changes that adwords made since your post?

    1. PPC Hero AllyPPC Hero

      We can’t speak for James, but this approach is still used around Hanapin in enhanced campaigns. The logic behind this post is still solid to us.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. James Scaggs

      Yep, I responded to you via twitter but this is still one of the best campaign structures I know of.


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