An Introduction to Broad Match Modifier

Effective PPC management involves frequent tweaks and regular refinement. In the quest to achieve optimal Google Ads conversion rates, I’m always on the hunt for a smart tactic or two. In this particular example, I found that a simple change in campaign structure resulted in a conversion rate improvement of over 26%. Result!

Our client’s Ads account had keywords split into two ad group types; Exact Match and Phrase Match. After some time monitoring the campaigns, I weren’t satisfied with the performance of the Phrase Match keywords.

I referred to the Search Term Report to investigate possible solutions.


What I discovered

Analysis of the Search Term Report revealed that whilst Phrase Match keywords would generate high numbers of impressions and clicks, the vast majority of our core search terms were generated by the Exact Match group alone.

I knew that shifting Phrase Match to standard Broad Match would would result in undesired traffic, a nosedive in conversion rate, and an inefficient campaign overall. Instead, I needed to assume more control over the triggered search terms outside the Exact Match group.



Enter Broad Match Modifier. This feature has been available on Google AdWords since 2010, and is arguably still underutilised by digital marketers. I call it Broad Match on steroids. But what does Broad Match Modifier (BMM) do, exactly?

As an example, take the keyword [weight gain diet]. When used with standard Broad Match, this would activate the ad in many different variations, many of which wouldn’t necessarily be relevant to the user’s intent.

However, by applying BMM to each word, the advert would only trigger if each and every one of the words was included in the search term. To be specific, the keyword would look like this on the Broad Match section of the account: +weight +gain +diet.

This seemed a solid idea, so I proceeded to create a BMM ad group for every Exact Match ad group, and converted all the keywords into BMM format. Simultaneously, I maintained the existing Exact Match campaign alongside, as it was performing well.

In addition, I added the Exact Match keywords as negative keywords for the Broad Match Modifier ad groups. This was primarily done to reduce cannibalisation, as Exact Match traffic is considerably cheaper and I wanted Google to prioritise that.



There were tremendous results after this shift to the BMM approach. Here’s the breakdown, when compared to the existing Phrase Match campaign:

  • 23% increase in impressions
  • 15% increase in conversions
  • Conversion rate increase of 26.47%


A short disclaimer: Broad Match Modifier isn’t necessarily always better than Phrase Match. Although BMM should improve a campaign’s performance most of the time, there could be cases where the use of Phrase Match is preferable.

This depends on whether Phrase Match results will contribute to your specific goals. For example, when you have a narrower grouping of keywords you want to target than BMM (which will also include more work in terms of mining the search term report), it’s better to do Phrase Match on broader terms and BMM on longer-tail phrases.

As with all aspects of digital marketing, this is a matter of testing and optimising your channels, and keeping a keen eye on the data generated by your campaign activities.

Focus on the Search Term Report for details on optimising Negative and Exact keywords. Should a relevant search term be activated regularly, ensure it’s added to your campaign. If an irrelevant, ensure it’s added to your list of negatives.


Converting your keywords for BMM

I wanted to prevent “stop” words within keywords triggering the ads. These are words like “a”, “the”, “in”, “for”, and others. I converted all of our keywords to the Broad Match Modifier in Excel, and excluded all necessary stop words.

After enriching the SUBSTITUTE formula with all the stop words I wanted to avoid adding a the modifier to, we implemented the following:

=SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(“+”&A2,” “,” +”),” +to “,” to “),” +is “,” is “),” +i “,” i “),” +the “,” the “),” +and “,” and “),” +on “,” on “),” +in “,” in “),” +that “,” that “),” +with “,” with “),” +of “,” of “),” +at “,” at “),” +be “,” be “), ” +for “,” for “),” +a “,” a “), ” +an “,” an “)

In Excel, the cells that contained the raw form of the [weight gain] keyword were transformed, as you can see below.

, Broad Match Modifier in Google Ads: How to Use it


Implementing this Broad Match Modifier tactic is an excellent hack to improve the effectiveness of your Google AdWords strategy. This example has been replicated across multiple client accounts, and has been universally successful in optimising campaigns.