Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Google adds broad match modifier to AdWords

The Google AdWords blog has announced the introduction of the broad match modifier - a new keyword targeting feature for AdWords that lets advertisers create keywords that have greater reach than phrase match and more control than broad match. At present this feature is only being made available in the UK and Canadian markets, but is likely to be rolled out worldwide at a later date.

The default broad match targeting feature in AdWords has come under some criticism from advertisers as it can mean that ads are displayed for a wider variety of terms than expected, sometimes including search terms that don't include any of the targeted terms but which are seen by Google as related. It has sometimes been felt that the broad match criteria can be expanded by Google at times, without advertisers being aware of this, and therefore a close eye needs to be kept on search query reports and the use of negative terms.

Of course the alternative to using broad match is to get better targeting through phrase and exact match, although this can significantly reduce the number of likely impressions unless al possible search term variations are included. Now, by adding the modified broad match keywords to a campaign, advertisers should be able to find a middle ground and get more clicks and conversions at an improved ROI.

The new modifier works by placing a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. Each word preceded by a + has to appear in the potential customer's search exactly or as a close variant. Google says that close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like “floor” and “flooring”). Synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “flowers” and “tulips”) aren't considered close variants.

Match behavior from this new setting will depend on the specific words that are modified, so that a single word in a phrase can include the modifier in front of it, or a combination or all words can include the modify symbol. For example, the keyword formal +shoes will match the search “evening shoes,” but the keyword +formal +shoes will not.

The Google blog says that modified broad match keywords have a traffic potential closer to phrase match than broad match. So, if advertisers mainly use broad match keywords in their account, switching these keywords to modified broad match will likely lead to a significant decline in the overall click and conversion volumes. In order to maintain these volumes, Google recommends keeping existing broad match keywords active, adding new modified broad match keywords, and adjusting bids to achieve the target ROI based on observed performance.

More information on the new broad match modifier can be found here.

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