The modified broad match type was created last year by Google in order to help advertisers better target a wide audience. While the modified broad match type was introduced nearly a year ago, in July 2010 (May for the UK and Canada), I still find myself answering a lot of questions about it.   If I’m not answering questions about it, I’m answering questions with “Have you tried using modified broad match?” which leads to answering questions about them, thus, I decided a review post might be helpful.

For starters, Google’s three basic match types are as follows:

  • Exact: Matches only the exact query
    • Example: [tennis shoes] ONLY matches tennis shoes
  • Phrase:  Matches queries with additional terms, so long as the exact phrase is intact
    • Example: “tennis shoes” also matches ‘red tennis shoes’ but not ‘tennis match shoes’
  • Broad: Matches any query that contains either one or all terms in the keyword, in any order, along with other terms
    • Example: tennis shoes matches tennis, shoes, buy tennis shoes, tennis shoe photos, tennis match shoes, high heeled shoes, etc.

Because phrase and exact target a narrow audience, advertisers may find that they aren’t receiving the traffic they’d like.  Unfortunately, broad, the default match type, often presents a range of impressions that are not always relevant.  Modified broad serves to increase traffic, without advertising to an audience that is too large.

How Modified Broad Match Works

Modified broad match works like a broad match keyword, except advertisers are able to select which terms within a keyword are important.  For instance, the broad matched keyword ‘scary Halloween masks’ will show for anything from scary movies to spa facial masks or Halloween candy.  However, by adding “modifiers”, otherwise known as the plus symbol (+), you can tell Google which terms are necessary when matching your keywords to search queries.  The term ‘+scary +Halloween +masks’ will match for anything that includes all three terms, no matter their order or what other terms are also included in the query.  This allows for more versatility than phrase match without the lack of control that comes with broad match.  If your store sold all kinds of Halloween masks, including but not limited to scary masks, you may want to try ‘scary +Halloween +masks’, which will match for all queries that include both ‘Halloween’ and ‘masks’ whether they include ‘scary’ or not.

The image below was taken from the Adwords Blog about modified broad match types, which illustrates the targeting reach of each match type.

When to use modified broad match:

  • If your click through rate is low, it may mean that you are showing for an audience that is too broad.  Substitute modified broad match types for broad keywords that have a low click through rate.
  • If your cost per lead is high, substitute high cost broad terms for modified broad terms, this will help narrow down the amount of people that see and click on your add.
  • If total cost is high, you may also want to consider subbing out high cost keywords for modified broad terms as it will better target your audience while also decreasing potential irrelevant clicks and spend.

I’ve personally had a great experience with modified broad match terms.  They don’t always work, nor does any other keyword, but in general modified broad match terms have helped decrease CPL for a wide range of clients.  I’d recommend using this tool to convert several broad keywords to modified broad match terms at once.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about modified broad match terms! 🙂