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

Chad Summerhill
February 2, 2018

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 Modifier Explained

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).

So--

  • 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:

=CONCATENATE("+",SUBSTITUTE(A3," "," +"))

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.