Oneupweb : Google’s Modified Broad Match—A Step Toward Regex Keyword Bidding

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A new keyword matching option dubbed “modified broad match” is currently available for testing in the UK and Canada. Unlike the algorithmic broad match changes of the past, this update is an entirely new match type. For those of you who are not completely familiar with Google’s available match types, here they are:

  • Exact: [iPod touch] — only matches the exact search “iPod touch”
  • Phrase: “iPod touch” — matches “black iPod touch” & “iPod touch screen protectors”
  • Broad: iPod touch — matches “iPod 3g touch” & “iPad touch screen”

There are also several varieties of negative keyword match types available. Negative keyword match types will allow you to increase the relevance of the queries that serve your ads, by eliminating queries that contain unwanted keywords. It’s easier to comprehend when looking at a full list of negative match type options, complete with explanations of usage.

I’m all for every enhancement that provides advertisers more control over how and when their ads are served, especially when it comes to using Google’s broad match. For too long I’ve seen Google’s broad match serve ads on many, many extremely irrelevant search terms. When bidding on the term “fireplace accessories” broad match, I received these actual queries where Google served my ad:

  • fireman’s gear
  • accessory to house fire
  • fire station equipment

It should be pretty easy to see why Google’s traditional broad match isn’t the match type to rely on, even with an exhausting list of negative keywords. I see the new modified broad match as a step in the right direction. Modified broad match provides advertisers with needed control. With this control advertisers can capture highly relevant traffic and a wide audience at the same time.

Modified broad match uses a new syntax that allows the advertiser to put a plus sign (“+”) in front of the word(s) in the query that should not be broadly matched. Here’s an example:

  • +fireplace accessories

In this case, Google would serve ads on queries containing the word “fireplace” exactly as well as synonyms of “accessories”. Here are some example queries that Google would match:

  • fireplace gear
  • fireplace tools
  • fireplace accents
  • fireplace decorations

There are many ways that modified broad match could be used to improve the performance of your search marketing campaigns in Google AdWords. As I said, I’m a fan of complete control over how my ads are displayed. I’ve often thought about how precise advertisers could be if Google would allow keyword matching by using regular expressions (regex). Regex matching would be far too confusing for the average PPC advertiser, but it would be a nice addition for more advanced users.

Google's Progress Toward Regex Keyword Bidding
If you wanted to serve ads only on queries starting with “fireplace tool” advertisers could bid on:

  • ^fireplace tool

This would match:

  • fireplace tools set
  • fireplace tools sets
  • fireplace tool sets
  • fireplace tools contemporary

This would prevent serving on:

  • brass fireplace tools
  • gas fireplace tools
  • outdoor fireplace tools

The opposite approach, if you wanted only to serve on queries ending in “fireplace tools”, advertisers could bid on the following:

  • fireplace tools$

Regexs can be simple or very complicated. If Google ever chooses to give advertisers full control over which queries their ads are served on, regular expressions will be the way to go. For now, I’m very pleased with the capabilities provided by modified broad match. Happy bidding!

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