Google's Broad Match Modifier: Who Should Use It, Why, and How


I’m sure by now that most of you have heard of Google AdWords’ new feature, Broad Match Modifiers (BMM). In short, by adding a simple “+” before a word in your broad match keyword, Google requires that word (or a close variation) to appear in the user’s search query.

If you’re not excited, you should be. This is exactly the type of feature that we advertisers have been asking for and can benefit greatly from. BMM gives us more visibility and control over how we spend our money. (Check out Alan Mitchell’s blog post on using Modified Broad Match and its effect on CTR and CPC if you still need to get pumped up about trying out this new feature.)

Broad Match Modifiers

So who should use this exciting new feature?

  1. Anyone who has been afraid to use Enhanced Broad Match (EBM) in the past because it’s too broad.
  2. Anyone who is using Enhanced Broad Match today.

If you are an exact match and phrase match purist …

By requiring the actual word to appear in the user search query, BMM is a much safer option for those who have been worried about the pitfalls of using Enhanced Broad Match. BMM is still a wider net than phrase match, but not nearly has wide as EBM, which requires diligent search query mining to minimize the risks.

If you’ve been looking for a way to increase your qualified traffic, BMM is a great new opportunity for hardcore exact and phrase match advertisers. 

Start experimenting by:

  • Creating new ad groups for keywords that you want more exposure on using the “+” modifier
  • You will want to set a lower CPC for the BMM version of your keyword to minimize ad-poaching
  • Take advantage of the new Google Analytics AdWords reports and watch your search queries closely for negatives

By creating new BMM ad groups, the results will be easier to compare to those of your existing ad groups. You will also get the added benefit of having your user search queries segregated from your existing ad groups, making it easier to mine for negative keywords (which will still be necessary).

If you are already using Enhanced Broad Match …

For those of us who are already widely using EBM, we could always use a little more control and visibility. EBM gives Google lots of latitude to spend your money—BMM takes that control and puts it back in the hands of the advertisers (where it should be).


  • For every existing EBM keyword create a fully modified BMM (a “+” for every word in the keyword) version
  • For your head terms, experiment with using all of the different permutations of BMM
  • Gather some data
  • Continue your query mining as always
  • Take advantage of your new control by bidding on your BMM keywords appropriately and capture some more qualified traffic

This doesn’t mean that you would stop using EBM; it simply gives you more control to raise bids on what should be more qualified traffic. Keep using EBM where it works; after all “20% of the queries Google receives each day are ones we haven’t seen in at least 90 days, if at all” (according to Google).

For those of you who are not looking forward to creating all of the new BMM versions of your keywords, please take advantage of this free Excel Modified Broad Match Tool.

And here is a simple Excel formula for a fully modified BMM keyword:


Using Broad Match Modifiers is about control. It’s our responsibility as advertisers to take advantage of this added control and use it to its fullest potential where it makes sense, and in so doing encourage Google to continue to add features like Broad Match Modifiers.

Chad Summerhill is the author of the blog PPC Prospector and in-house PPC specialist at Moving Solutions, Inc.

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Alan Mitchell
Oct 27, 2010

Hi Chad,

Thanks for the mention.

You're new Excel tool is great. Thanks for sharing it. Anything to save time in a busy PPC advertiser's day is always welcome!


Jan 07, 2016

I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post's to be precisely
what I'm looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
I wouldn't mind publishing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you
write related to here. Again, awesome web site!

Google’s Broad Match Modifiers | Adam Huxtable
Oct 28, 2010

[...] WordStream [...]

Jul 04, 2017

Have been taking little over a month.

Chad Summerhill
Oct 28, 2010

You are welcome, Alan. I enjoyed reading your detailed test results.


Jan 04, 2011

That is a great article. Thanks! But I have one question to ask:

Are you saying you create a BMM version that runs in parallel with your EBM adgroup? If so, how could you for sure BMM can steal good amount of traffic from EBM given that it has already built up the history?

Chad Summerhill
Jan 05, 2011

Hi Ray.

Creating a BMM version of your broad match keywords is about getting more visibility and control. It's no different than creating an exact match version of a broad match keyword for the same reasons (i.e. you want to be able to write better ads, have separate bids, etc.).

Whether or now Google will start serving ads from you new BMM ad group is up to Google, but I haven't run into any issues where my new BMM keywords couldn't get the traffic. Your BMM keywords should be better targeted which should allow for a higher bid, so you shouldn't have too many problems. Can't hurt to test it out.

Another benefit of separating the ad groups is that you will have your search queries separated for easier query mining (if you use the AdWords interface for query mining).

Hope this helps.

Best Regards,


Jan 05, 2011

Good point.

If you launch MBM adgroups and try to look at test result, do you look at your SQR reports to fish out the search term from broad match for comparison? Otherwise, it is not apple to apple comparison right? For example, the keyword space you steal from broad match could be about the same in term of performance as your MBM. So, you will not conclude MBM is better just by comparing adgroup level performance right? Just want to see how your test set up to give you enough confidence. Many thanks!


May 01, 2016

About broad match modifier. So if you use two keywords normally means that anything extra can be added before, after and in between as long as it has those two original keywords. Such as +locksmith +Sydney. So you are saying that with broad match modifier we can also get hits for
cheap locksmith Sydney - after hours locksmith Sydney - locksmith Sydney 24 hours. Is this the general idea or have I got it wrong.

Pankaj Mohanpuria
Oct 17, 2016

Hi, I am unable to download your free excel tool for BMM. As I am clicking, nothing happens. Kindly mail me the file if possible, that'd be a great help :)

Allen Finn
Oct 17, 2016

Hi, Pankaj.

The link in the post was just to an external site. The BMM tool is just he formula listed:



Jul 05, 2017

Have actually been taking little over a month.

Nov 14, 2016

My favorite search ad blog.

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