One of my favorite movies of recent memory is Wedding Crashers, and while looking for a picture to put on Facebook to mock a friend, I stumbled upon a picture of Todd Cleary, the misunderstood son of the powerful Cleary family. Laughing to myself, I saved the pic to get back to work. Later, while puzzling over why my broad match keywords were getting impressions in an account, but not many clicks and few conversions, it kind of came to me—why not try modified broad match? It seems like an alternative, but its kind of hard to understand. Looking into the match type, and seeing confused bloggers discussing strategies to employ this match type, I realized that it is much like the picture I had saved of Todd Cleary—misunderstood to many, but nonetheless an important aspect of the movie. Modified broad match can be utilized correctly, and in certain instances can be quite useful, like the character Todd in Wedding Crashers. So, to tie this all together, modified broad match, like Todd, needs some explanation (or a few hilarious lines, like in the movie), and you will be able to see its worth. So, to start, lets cover the basics.

Todd Cleary
Todd Cleary...Kind of like modified broad match. You'll see.

The Modifier

This is the term that Google has assigned to the plus (+) sign that is used to signify modified broad match in your keyword matches. To clarify, to properly utilize this match type, you simply type in the keyword or keyword string with a + before the keywords you want to modify (we will discuss different scenarios and strategies later in the article), and then signify the match type in the Adwords interface as “broad.” Now, on to the different types of modified broad match.

Fully Modified Broad Match Keyword

This entails a + modifier before each keyword in your keyword string. So, for example purposes, our keyword is +mens +blue +widgets. This is a little more permissive to impressions than phrase match in three key ways: the order of keywords doesn’t matter, variations on spelling or plural versions of the keywords still trigger ads, and query terms that interrupt the keyword string can still trigger ads. So, matches would be: mens blue widgets, man blue widgets (variation of mens), widgets men blue(variation and order or keywords are different), or mens blue greenish widgets (query term interrupting the keyword string). This is the most restrictive of the three types of modified broad match.

Dual Anchor Modified Broad Match Keyword

This type of modified broad match has at least two modified + keywords in a keyword string. To continue along with the mens blue widgets example, this modified keyword match would look like this: +mens blue +widgets. This match type is the next step towards the impression share of normal broad match. Basically, it is much like Fully Modified Broad Match, except now with one term behaving as a broad match keyword. So, for your ads to trigger, the two keywords (in any order, and variations/plurals) mens and widgets would have to appear in the query, but blue could or could not be included in the query as well. So, for queries that would trigger your ads, these would apply: mens widgets, mens green widget, man widget for gift, widgets for a man, etc.

Anchor Modified Broad Match Keyword

This involves only one modified keyword in the keyword string, so for example: mens blue +widgets. This would only guarantee that widgets would have to be in the search query in order to trigger an ad. So, ads could be triggered for such queries as: widgets, womans widgets, widget made for children, etc.

So, now that modified broad match has been explained, I hope that you understand the importance and flexibility of this match type. Like laughing at Todd Cleary’s antics and understanding his comedic importance in the movie Wedding Crashers, hopefully you now understand the practical importance of utilizing modified broad match in your Adwords account. It affords you the flexibility to determine which words in your keyword string are necessary to get more qualified traffic, but also allows you to maintain some of the better aspects of normal broad match keywords. So, try them out, identify your important keywords, and watch as your ROI goes up.