How to PPC: The Benefits of Using Modified Broad Match Keywords

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Running a successful PPC campaign involves a lot of important elements.

For paid search marketers, Google provides its AdWords tool to help with traffic control, including various keyword options which can be used on their own or together. The latter option could require a higher budget than some businesses can afford to put into paid search ads, so the next best thing is to leverage the Broad Match Modifier.

This option is a hybrid - offering fewer restrictions than an exact phrase match, and more control than the standard broad match option.

It allows the user to specify chosen keywords, or very close variants, which must be included in a search before the ad will be activated. This is done by simply adding a + symbol immediately in front of the chosen words (with no space between).


The major advantage of using modified broad match keywords is the increase of quality ad traffic. The modifier makes the keywords far more relevant to a detailed search phrase, thus generating more targeted traffic and a higher click-to-conversion rate as a direct result.

The ability to place the modifier anywhere in the keyword string is another useful benefit, for example,  the keyword phrase 'red leather handbag' could be modified in the following ways: '+red leather handbag'; '+red +leather; and 'red leather +handbag'.

This can be a real help in increasing relevancy without overly hindering traffic flow.

Those who rely on a default broad match could find that the negative keywords needed to mirror it quickly become a very long and expensive list to keep up with. Using the broad match modifier precludes much of this - because it allows ads to trigger for exact matches and close variants but not for synonyms.


For a very useful function, the two potential disadvantages of using modified broad match keywords are small. The first involves the possibility of decreased traffic numbers (impression volume) in the case of certain businesses, due to the exclusion of related words or synonyms. In reality, this can be easily balanced out by the improved quality of leads, but it is something that businesses do need to analyse.

The only other disadvantage is a tiny one, more of an inconvenience, in fact. If the keyword list is exported into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, it will attempt to place an apostrophe in front of the + for certain words - thus making the list unusable when it is migrated back to AdWords, which sees it as a new word. It is important to be aware of this relatively minor issue. A search and replace can solve this problem before your paste makes it back to AdWords.


On the whole, the broad match keyword modifier can be a useful tool for businesses that need to cap their PPC budget whilst still maintaining their flow of high-quality traffic. Remember to experiment with your paid ad campaigns to ensure you are getting the maximum amount of search traffic and conversions.

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