Now here’s something interesting. Google just released a beta test in the UK and Canada for a new AdWords keyword match type: modified broad match keywords. These new keywords work kind of like broad match, but allow you to demand greater specificity in relevance matches by adding the “+” modifier in front of keywords that must appear in the user’s search query. For example, if you were flexible with what keywords you wanted to trigger your ads, but you were absolutely sure that you only wanted search queries that contained the exact word “cruise,” you could add modified broad match keywords like “discount +cruise,” “bahamas +cruise,” or “+cruise vacations.” In this scenario, your ads would show if someone typed in the query “caribbean cruise,” but they would not show if the same user typed in “discount vacations.”
This new functionality bridges the gap between broad match and phrase match, allowing greater granularity in your targeting options. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of broad match unless you’re willing to waste some money. In real life, searchers type in all sorts of crazy queries that Google matches to your ads. This is good if you want to get some real-world keyword research, but bad if you want to keep your cost per conversion down. Google is undoubtedly good at search, but I’m very unimpressed by their ability to match broad match queries to relevant broad match keywords. If you don’t believe me, check a long-term search query report for some broad match keywords and try to figure out what percentage of those queries have nothing to do with your product offering. Unless you’ve been really good about keeping up with your negative keyword list, chances are you’ll be looking at a lot of junk traffic.
The new modified broad match keywords present an alternative to the regular broad match/large negative keyword list combo. Now, you can get the benefit of catching misspellings, plurals, and long-tail terms you hadn’t thought of in your search net, while still keeping some semblance of quality control with the modified “+” keyword. Sure, it’s not going to fix the problem entirely, but it could save you from some common pitfalls of the other match types. You won’t miss out on too much traffic like you would with a phrase match, and you won’t drive quite as much junk traffic, as you might experience with a standard broad match.
I’d love to give this new trick a spin, but alas, I’m American. I suppose that I have to miss out on the fun for now. If you’re a United Kingdom or Canadian AdWords advertiser, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the new match type. Let’s hear about it in the comments.