Match Point – Modified Broad Match Vs Phrase Match


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How do you know what keyword match types will garner the best results out of your AdWords campaign? And what really IS the difference between modified broad and phrase match? Sam Thomas takes a closer look at the two keyword types.

Keywords come in various guises – exact, phrase match, modified broad and broad match. Knowing the best match type for your keywords can maximise on results and save you money.

Phrase Match

Phrase match, as the name implies, is a keyword setting that enables your ad to show only when someone searches the exact phrase of your keyword, or a close variation, with additional words before or after.

For example: the phrase match keyword “dining table” would also pull up your ad if someone searched for “oak dining table” or “dining table sale”.

Modified Broad Match

Modified broad enables you to create keywords that reach more people than phrase match but with more control than broad match. Put simply, you place a modifier (+) in front of one or more words in a broad match which you need to appear exactly as is or as a close variant in your potential customer’s search.

For example: “+red +shoes” would pull up “girls red shoes”, “red and white shoes” or “red shoes sale” but it would not pull up “red sandals”.

More Things To Consider

Always make sure there are no spaces between the + and modified words, but put spaces between words. Correct: “+formal +shoes”. Incorrect: “+formal+shoes” or “+ formal + shoes”.

Another caveat for modified broad is to ensure you save your + for words that need to appear in a user’s query. Bear in mind that prepositions such as “of” and “in” don’t necessarily need a + as they don’t change the meaning of a user’s search. As a rule of thumb, use + for the terms you really need.

Close variants will include misspellings in phrase match, while singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings relate to both keyword types. Do note that synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “boots” and “sandals”) are not included in phrase match but may show in modified broad.

What Google Says

Matt Lawson, Google’s global head of performance ads, says that both of these match types are great for multi-word keywords. The difference is all about whether or not the order of those words in your keyword matters. In most cases, order doesn’t matter, and in those cases modified broad is suitable.

However, he points out that in some cases order does matter. He gives the example of someone who advertises a brand of car speakers called RoadThunder. They would definitely want to appear for any searches that include the words “road thunder” in that order. But +road +thunder might serve a different set of users whose searches might not be looking for speakers for their car.

In summary, use phrase if there is a potential for confusion with another search result, but if the order of words isn’t going to change the results then modified broad works just as well, and will probably come in at a lower bid price too.

PPC and paid search news from BidCops – the PPC analysis tool.


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