Broad Match Modifier: Save Time, Boost Performance

by Nick DiPietro on June 23, 2011

in Search

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The Low Down

Broad match modifier (BMM) is a variation of the broad match type in Google Adwords.  It can be utilized by adding + signs in front of keywords.  This match type is more specific than broad match, but not as restrictive as phrase match.  The + signs indicate that each term must be included in the users query, but they are not confined to the order of the bmm keyword.  For instance, bidding on the bmm keyword +red +running +shoes would trigger an ad for the following search queries (assuming the keyword bid is high enough to appear on the first page):

mens running shoes red

shoes running red

red womens running shoes

All three queries above satisfy the must-have keywords indicated by the BMM keyword and they don’t have to follow a particular order.  Regular broad match would also trigger the ads, but you run the risk of accruing more impressions with less click-throughs. Such a trend would ultimately result in lower quality scores.  This scenario is not always the case, but where Google is concerned, relevancy is king (along with your bids), and BMM keywords strive to be more relevant than their close regular broad match relatives.

Phrase match “red running shoes” would only trigger the ads for the 3rd query in the above example.  This match type stipulates that the keywords must appear in the order you have designated.  If you are bidding on regular broad match too, again, you will be covered, but why not make things easier? If you were bidding on just +red +running +shoes you would appear for all 3 queries!

The Benefits

Alluded to above, your keyword lists have the potential to be much shorter with the inclusion of BMM keywords.  Not only do you end up with a shorter keyword list, but a more organized and focused one at that.  BMM can give you a better idea of what keyword combinations are responsible for your clicks.  Keep in mind you can always check the actual keyword queries that are triggering your ads within the Search Query Report.

Not a fan of mining for negative keywords?  Neither am I.  Using broad match modifiers can also reduce your negative keyword count.  By identifying specific words that must be included in your queries, your potential to show up for non-related or unwanted queries is trimmed down.  If you know your keyword themes have the potential to trigger all different types of searches, I highly recommend using BMM keywords along with exact match in your ad groups.

If you are in need of higher quality keywords, but don’t want to completely sacrifice impression volume, try BMM.  Quality between your ads and keywords is critical for searchers to achieve relevancy and for Google to consider your efforts relevant.  In my experience, BMM has enhanced relevancy for many of our clients.

The Takeaway(s)

Don’t abandon regular broad match and phrase match altogether; some of your campaigns may need their services.  Broad is useful when you need more reach, just remember to adjust your negative keyword list accordingly.  Phrase match can be especially useful when the order of a keyword phrase is important.  For instance we have a client that sells commercial artificial grass.  If a user were to search on artificial grass commercial, they could be looking for a television ad and not commercially available artificial grass.  Overall, it is important to develop your keyword list with match types that accommodate the searches you are going after and avoid the ones you don’t.  You’ll maintain higher relevancy with searchers and in turn Google will reward your keywords with higher quality scores.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren June 28, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Q: Does the BMM example appear for the search – men’s running shoes? (w/o the “red” in it)


Nick DiPietro Nick DiPietro June 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for your question. No, the BMM +red +running +shoes would not trigger an ad for the query men’s running shoes. The + indicates that the keyword must be included in the user’s search. Because red is missing from the search query it would not trigger an ad. If you were to remove the plus sign (red +running +shoes) then the query mens running shoes has the potential to trigger an ad. I hope that makes sense, if not please let me know and I would be happy to explain further!


Carolyn July 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Hi, Thanks for this article. I recently began working with adwords and this is definitely a tool I will use at some point.

I’m working on a campaign for a highly geo-targeted area and I’ve had to stop myself from comparing it to larger campaigns (numbers wise at least). I’ve lowered my impressions, but increased my CTR, which is the ultimate goal for this project. I was reading that a higher quality score and CTR will result in lowered CPC but I have actually seen the opposite of this since improving my CTR. Am I just being impatient?



Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard July 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Hey Carolyn – I’m not sure why’d you’d be seeing that. When you start to think about search engines as revenue generators, the way you accomplish this is exactly the way you’re doing it – better copy (which leads to higher CTR’s and better quality scores). Dare I ask – are you allowing a bid-manager to adjust your bids for you. I understand the value of bid managers on large scale, but if you’re using it on a very narrow campaign – I’d disable it immediately and manually bid on terms. If it’s not a bid manager, let me know what you mean – as you’re not being impatient – you should be seeing results already!


Melissa Adams Melissa July 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

Nice explanation of BMM Nick and how using them can really help improve search results through relevancy! Thanks for doing such a “primer” for those of us much less knowledgeable in PPC.


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