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Understanding Google AdWords Pay Per Click Keyword Match Types: Exact, Phrase, Broad, and +Modified +Broad

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Yes! It finally happened. Earlier this week, on July 14th, Google AdWords rolled out their new Broad Match Modifier (BMM) keyword matching option to all of their advertisers in the United States. Since BMM had previously only been available to AdWords advertisers in the UK and Canada, it’s release to US campaigns is something that has been eagerly awaited.

Google AdWords New Broad Match Modifier - BMM

When AdWords first announced the new modified broad keyword matching, they released an infographic to help marketers visually understand how BMM works and relates to existing match types. The infographic shows a very small set of examples of keyword matches that you can expect to have your text ads displayed for.

New Pay Per Click Keyword Match Types

After spending a month running and analyzing modified broad match keywords in a few Canadian AdWords campaigns, we developed a few matching techniques and initial bidding strategies that are represented in the following infograph. We feel that this is a better representation of the tiered levels of match type bidding, traffic potential and keyword matching. In particular we have expanded upon the new BMM match types with 3 possible levels of matching that we call: “Anchor Modified Broad Match“, “Dual Anchor Modified Broad Match“, and “Fully Modified Broad Match“.

Google AdWords Pay Per Click Keyword Match Types: Exact, Phrase, Expanded Broad and Modified BMM (Broad Match Modifier)

Google AdWords Pay Per Click Keyword Match Types: Broad, Anchor Modified, Dual Anchor, Full Modified, Phrase and Exact Match.

Understanding Match Types, Targeting and Initial Bidding Strategies

Broad Match: Matching search query only needs to loosely match 1 word of any of the terms contained within your bidded keyword to display your ad.
Targeting & Control: Keyword matching is very loose with a low level of control.
Bidding Strategy: Initial bids should be set at a minimum.

Anchor Modified Broad Match Matching search query must match the designated “anchor” word contained in the bidded keyword to display ad.
Targeting & Control: Limited keyword targeting with minimum level of control.
Bidding Strategy: Initial bids should be low for testing and new keyword discovery.

Dual Anchor Modified Broad Match: Matching search query needs to match the 2 designated “anchor” words contained in your bidded keyword.
Targeting & Control: Selective keyword targeting with a moderate level of control.
Bidding Strategy: Initial bids should be moderate.

Fully Modified Broad Match: Matching search query needs to match all of the designated “anchor” words contained within the bidded keyword.
Targeting & Control: Very good keyword targeting with higher level of control.
Bidding Strategy: Initial bids can be set at a competitive level.

Phrase Match: Matching search query needs to contain within it the entire bidded keyword in the exact order that the words appear.
Targeting & Control: Good keyword targeting with high level of control.
Bidding Strategy: Initial bids can be set at a competitive level.

Exact Match: Matching search query needs to contain the exact bidded keyword and cannot contain additional terms.
Targeting & Control: Exact keyword targeting with high level of control.
Bidding Strategy: Initial bids can be highly competitive.

Test and Analyze
We have analyzed the matching of our own campaigns as they relate to bid levels and match types to develop our initial bidding. These strategies will vary greatly based on 1, 2, 3 and 4+ word keywords and especially how they relate to other match types that are being actively targeted. We encourage you to test and analyze modified broad match on your own campaigns, and or course share any tips or nuances you may encounter.

Google AdWords PPC Keyword Matching: Exact, Phrase, Extended Broad and Modified BMM - Broad Match Modifier (Printable Version)

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    Reader Comments

    • Anthony | July 17, 2010

      This is a little more informative than Google’s explanation. Thanks for clearing everything up!

    • Edgar Sánchez | July 17, 2010

      Thanks for this,

      There is a thing not very clear though

      According to the graphic
      BMM +mens +formal +shoes , matches formal mens horse shoes, if shoes is with the + I dont get why horse is mapped, could you clarify?


    • James | July 17, 2010


      The thing to remember is that BMM is Broad Match, just modified to “Anchor” specific keywords. Due to that, BMM & Broad Match still match keywords the same way, in that you will also show up for longer keyword strings. Some examples:

      Broad mens formal shoes
      This version only has to loosely match 1 of the words in the keywords to qualify. In this case the words that factor into the algorithmic matching are mens, or formal, or shoes.

      BMM +mens +formal +shoes
      This version needs to contain close matches for all 3 words. The words need not be in the exact order and can have many additional words in the triggered query. In this case here are some very possible matches. I have left the + in front of needed BMM Anchor words.

      cheap +mens +formal +shoes
      +mens +formal +shoe stores in Portland
      +male horse +shoes for +formal racing
      employed +men at the +formal Nike +shoe company in Oregon

      Both Broad + BMM versions can trigger matching searches for 4, 5 and 6+ word search terms and in any order.

      Hope this helps clear things up.

    • Edgar | July 18, 2010

      Clear enough now James

      Many thanks for taking the time to bring some light into this, very useful


    • Chad Summerhill | August 20, 2010

      Love the graphic! I just recently made a FREE Excel spreadsheet to help you build out your modified broad match keyword list.

      Hope your readers find it useful.

    • Calculate Marketing | October 19, 2010

      Like your examples of using certain words as anchors when using modified broad match. I recently did some analysis on using modified broad match at different points in the keywords (similar to your keyword anchoring) and found that keywords with a greater amount of broad match modification tended to perform better in terms of higher CTRs and lower CPCs.

      Guess its still a matter of time before best practices arise about how to best make use of modifed broad match, but glad you’ve started to explore the practical possibilities.


    • David | November 02, 2010

      Is there a way to test a keywords and if they match the adwords keywords that we added? for example, is there a tool where i can type in the adwords keyword: +men +shoe formal then type in the keword/phrases to test: men shoes, formalware and then have the tool return true or false?

      this would help me fine tune the keywords i add into adwords. or if you guys have a good suggestions, please let me know. i know i can test this by adding it into adwords and then wait for some time and then test the keywords, but this takes forever.

      • James | November 03, 2010

        Hi David,

        I do not believe there is a tool such as you suggest. Please let us know if you find one!

        As for testing, your best option might be to add the keywords and then do a manual search on Google to see if your ad is displaying. You should also check your Search Query reports to see what keywords your ads are showing and generating clicks for. Since the AdWords reporting center is moving, you should look under your Keywords tab in your account. Then select the “See search terms” drop down option located under the graph. Under “See search terms”, you will choose the “All” option. This will give you an up-to-date list of search queries.

        Hope this helps,

    • David | November 03, 2010

      thanks james. i’m surprised google hasn’t offered such a tool. its simple to create for them since they know the exact algorithm.

    • David | November 05, 2010

      the “see search terms” is useful too, but it doesn’t tell us exactly which keywords we specified did it match on. all it says is the match type which is useless when you are using different broad and phrase matches. so it makes it difficult to 100% be sure which keywords worked unless you have a few keywords whose match set doesn’t overlap.

    • Calculate Marketing | November 08, 2010

      Hi David,

      To get more insight into which search queries triggered which of your ads, I would suggest being more granualr with your ad groups. If you have only one keyword per ad group, you can be sure that search queries which matched to that ad group matched to that keyword.

      Not very practical having one keyword per ad group for your whole AdWords account, as I point out in an article I wrote ( ), but it could be worthwhile for your high-volume keywords.

    • Mark | November 15, 2010

      Is it possible to use DKI for ads? This will mean only one broad match keyword is required and the ad will change accordingly.

    • James | November 16, 2010

      Mark, yes as you have guessed, DKI – Dynamic Keyword Insertion, does work for Modified Broad Match. The actual keyword(s) that show up in your ads will be exactly what the searcher typed in the search box, unless they are too many characters to fit in your ad and then your default keyword will be displayed.

      Also, capitalization of the keywords inserted into the PPC text ads will be the case that you coded into the ads in your campaign:

      keyword : All words will be lowercase.
      Keyword : First letter in only the first word will be uppercase.
      KeyWord : First letter in all words will be uppercase.
      KEYword : All letters in the first word will be uppercase and letters in remaining words will be lowercase.
      KEYWORD : All letters in all words will be uppercase.

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    • SEO Edinburgh | June 24, 2011

      Hey James,

      Missed this first time around, great breakdown of the 3 types of modified broad match, I like the anchor concept and the infographic is pretty cool.

      You know it’s my favourite match type due to the flexibility it offers.



    • ayyappan | July 13, 2011

      hi James,

      This diagram is bit more clear than Google’s one.

      But I have doubt in your dual anchor modified

      keyword : +mens formal +shoes
      matches : horse shoes for men

      So why one need modified broad match?

      It could be useful if the modified feature allowed in phrase or exact
      like +”formal shoes” ,+[formal shoes].

      So as per my analytics from live data is that the new invention guarantees more visits but not quality one.

      Google should have focused on modified phrase match.


    • James | July 13, 2011


      Adding the Plus character “+” to some of your broad keywords is a way of controlling the matching of those. You are essentially telling Google that these are more important and NEED to closely match versions triggered in search queries.

      Also, this BMM matching will provide fewer impressions than the standard broad match, but better targeted/quality ones.

    • ayyappan | July 13, 2011

      hi James,

      Thank you for your clarification.But few things are still poking me.

      I think you are comparing broad and modified broad match.Yes modified broad match is a enhanced feature of the broad match.But I comparing modified broad match with phrase.

      If you can see the diagram of Google it says the full modified broad match “also matches ” ,so this make me feel that it does the job of exact,phrase as well.

      My questions are:-
      1. can we use fully modified broad match to cover phrase
      eg:- +car +door to cover “car door”

      2. Can we use negative keywords for modified broad match.
      eg:- +car +door and free as a negative keyword


    • James | July 13, 2011


      1. can we use fully modified broad match to cover phrase
      eg:- +car +door to cover “car door”

      – Yes. Modified Broad will cover the Phrase match version. Phrase match is becoming used less and less in AdWords.

      2. Can we use negative keywords for modified broad match.
      eg:- +car +door and free as a negative keyword

      – Yes. Negative keywords will affect BMM keywords. So using -free in an Ad Group or Campaign containing the keywords +car +door, will prevent it from showing up for the keyword free car door.

    • ayyappan | July 14, 2011

      hi James,

      Thank you for your reply.

      I got few more doubts if its OK with you.

      Is it wise to add those relevant keywords which are not at all searched according to Google Keyword tool?

      example :- accident book search 0 times [not real statics],Can I keep it as a phrase so that in future if it may happens to search,worth a click isnt it.


    • James | July 14, 2011


      – Yes. The Google Keyword tool search volume data is rough, gets rounded & grouped, and is not accurate enough to base individual keyword decisions on.

      For these situations, I add these keywords to a targeted Ad Group and first check to see if their Quality Scores are 7 or higher, and second if they do get search volume that the AdWords keyword tool is not reporting. If they have good QS’s, then I leave them in and wait for potential clicks. If not delete or move.

      Sometimes you’ll run across a new search term that has surprisingly more search volume than expected. Those are usually little gems that maost competitors will not be aware of:)

    • ayyappan | July 14, 2011

      hi James,

      Thanks for your reply and kind for clearing my doubts .

      May be I haven’t read your other posts.

      Do you suggest any tool other than Google keyword tool?

      One question.

      keyword :- cctv signs
      I may use [cctv signs] and +cctv +sign in this case.
      will it match: cctv stickers,cctv signage and security signs uk for BMM

      I hope my question is not diverting the post topic.


    • James | July 14, 2011


      No other keyword tool has the search volume data that the Google AdWords keyword tool has, so I usually recommend for people to stick with that until they have exhausted it.

      For the keywords [cctv signs] and +cctv +sign….

      [cctv signs] will only march: cctv signs
      +cctv +sign will likely match: cctv signage
      They will most likely not match: cctv stickers
      They will not match: security signs uk

    • jerry holmes | December 16, 2011

      I never really understood the difference in the types of keywords but this did make it a little clearer.
      I really never used adwords much I guess not really understanding how to do it right may be why.
      I may give it another try thanks to your posts.

    • Don | April 16, 2012

      When using the BMM on keywords with small words, letters and numbers such as “to” “and” “3” “2.0” “a” should the + not be added? Why I ask is selling USB computer cables, some of the keywords contain these. Such as “usb cable type a to b”.

    • James | April 17, 2012

      Hi Don,

      I typically recommend using the broad match modifier on all keywords as a rule of thumb.

      So “usb cable type a to b” would be “+usb +cable +type +a +to +b”.

      You also need to be careful with numbers, short, 1 letter words within your keyword as they can be very loosely interpreted.

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