How to Increase Your PPC ROI w/ Modified Broad Match

A little over a month ago Google announced that they were rolling out, modified broad match,  a new targeting feature for paid search advertisers. This new match type lets you create keywords with greater reach than phrase match and more control than broad match.  This works by adding a “+” directly before a word in a broad match keyword. Each word proceeded by a + must appear in the query exactly or as a close variant (including misspellings, plurals, etc.)

This feature was originally released as a limited beta in UK and Canada. As most paid search advertisers, I was very excited about this new targeting feature; it could potentially cut back on negative keyword research and search query report craziness (which may give you minor heart attacks when you see the absurd term that Google “thinks is relevant”).

In the announcement and in the AdWords help center they are very adamant on pointing out that using broad match terms that only contain the modifier will have a significant negative impact on your campaign volume (if currently using broad match). If you are looking to decrease volume due to trending over budget and want to reduce spend than switching to modified broad match may be a good option

Google recommends keeping existing broad match keywords active, adding new modified broad match keywords, and adjusting bids to achieve your target ROI based on observed performance. They recommend that you set the bids higher for the modified keywords to start.

I implemented some modified broad match terms using the recommendations that Google gave. Below is the test I did along with the results that came from such test.

For the test I took one of my best performing campaigns and used the top performing broad match terms for this campaign- added a new ad group using these terms with the modifier. For the sake of the experiment we are only looking at these terms specifically. Here is an example of how I used the modifier (keywords were changed to keep client anonymous):

  • pets store (+pets store)
  • pet stores (+pet stores)
  • pet store (+pet store)

First- I looked at the search terms for the time period that the test has been live. I pulled two reports, one showing the broad terms and the other showing the modified terms for the same time period.

The first report showed the broad terms generated impressions from search queries around similar terms but none of the terms match the keywords specifically. A majority of the search queries did not include either of the words I was bidding on and some were completely irrelevant.

In the second report every term was matched to a query that included the term that contained the modifier. There were very few irrelevant queries that these were matched to.

When only looking at the search terms we can confirm that the broad match modifier does a better job at matching your keyword to relevant search traffic.

Now, let’s look at numbers!!

First we will compare broad vs. modified broad:

  • Impressions 8% higher than modified terms
  • Clicks 17% lower than modified terms
  • CTR 31% lower than modified terms
  • CPC 29% lower than modified terms
  • Cost 40% lower than modified terms
  • Conversions were the same
  • CPA 40% lower than modified terms
  • Conversion rate 20% higher than modified terms

When comparing the match types it is hard to determine which the “better” option is. If we are only looking at CPA and conversion rate, in this case Broad match would be the better option. But if you’re thinking in terms of quality score you definitely want to keep CTR in mind (which overtime may decrease our cpc and possibly our cost and CPA in the future). The CTR for the modified terms is higher than the broad match terms. As Google says- match type doesn’t directly affect your QS but it can help improve your CTR. Hmmm…

My take from this is not that broad match is necessarily better, but rather the importance of keeping both match types, which is illustrated even more greatly by the table below

So let’s compare the keyword metrics from when we ran the test to the previous 30 days (again we are only looking at the above mentioned keywords performance specifically)

  • Impressions decreased by 8%
  • Clicks increased by 5%
  • CTR increased by 16%
  • CPC increased by 3%
  • Cost increased by 8%
  • Conversions increased by 300%
  • CPA decreased by 73%
  • Conversion rate increased by 280%

These numbers show that adding modified broad keywords in addition to the broad terms significantly increased performance across the board. Most notably CTR, conversions and conversion rate all increased and CPA decreased by 73%.

According to Google Adwords Blog:

“Adding modified broad match keywords to your campaign can help you get more clicks and conversions at an attractive ROI, especially if you mainly use exact and phrase match keywords today.”

After conducting this test we can confirm that indeed adding modified broad match keyword increased clicks (by 5%) and conversions (300%) and an attractive ROI or CPA (-280%).

Some things to remember when using the modifier:

  • Make sure that you are using the modifier properly
  • If the old ad group has all broad match, then set a higher CPC for these new match types
  • Google recommends that you keep existing broad match keywords active, add new modified broad match keywords, and adjusting bids to achieve your target ROI based on observed performance.
  • If the old ad group has all exact and phrase match, then set a lower CPC for these new match types
  • Let the ad group run and collect some data then run the search query report examining these two ad groups and their variations
  • Don’t forget to add negatives and pull search query reports! Modified eliminates a lot of unwanted traffic but negatives keywords are the only way to ensure that you are not showing up for terms that are irrelevant.

I definitely recommend testing modified broad match for all current and future campaigns- but as with all match types make sure that use the match types that work best for you or your client.