Katie Brady

by Katie Brady | Search Marketing Strategy

Like high-waisted jeans, broad match keywords were very popular in the early 2000s, before eventually falling out of style. However, also like high-waisted jeans, broad match is making a comeback. When used in the right manner, broad match keywords can be an effective tool to pull out of your PPC closet. So break out your Furbies, play some Smash Mouth, and read on about why broad match is still as relevant today as it was in 2001.

high waisted jeans

In search, as it is in fashion, sometimes the most surprising trends come back around. Image via Pexels.

Positives at a Glance

Audience Size 

Broad Match keywords cast a wide net for search queries, vastly increasing the size of the audience that can see your ad. And, much like casting a net, Broad Match may bring in some irrelevant terms, but if used correctly, you can usually find one or two salmon to take home at the end of the day. On the other hand, using exact match keywords is like fishing in a barrel. Yes, you’ll catch some fish, but it is a small barrel and lots of other advertisers are throwing their nets into it. In addition, 15% of the searches Google sees each day are brand new.  If relevant, you want to find ways to target those new queries.

Lower CPCs

Do you have a very expensive keyword set within your account? Try those keywords in Broad Match (with lower bids). Broad match keywords often have lower CPCs than their match type counterparts. This is due to their ability to match to cheaper variations of your keywords. Some of those variations might not be relevant to your business (which is why you should take extra time to add in negative keywords – see below), but others can provide qualified clicks at a cheaper CPC than exact or phrase match types.


Are you advertising for an extremely niche field? Have you run out of keyword expansion ideas? Let searchers do the work for you! Gain insight into different variations and unique ways people are searching by using the looser match types. I have found 3-4 new campaigns ideas by mining search query themes in broad match campaigns.

Can you control it?

Now that we have reviewed some positives, let me be the first (or maybe the 100th) person to tell you that even though Broad Match is a great resource and tool for expansion, I would not suggest letting Broad Match keywords run wild in your account. You should use them as a tool for expansion, not an overall account strategy. With that in mind, there are several strategies to implement Broad Match keywords effectively while keeping them on a tight leash.

Give Broad Match Its Own Campaign

Monitoring performance will be a big next step once you launch in Broad Match. Make it easier to monitor quality, volume, budgets, mobile bids and more by putting your experimental broad match keywords and ad groups into their very own campaigns.

One Per Ad Group

Keep your ad groups minimal with just one or two themed broad match keywords per ad group. With broad match, there is no guarantee that each search query will be closely aligned with your ad copy, but limiting your ad groups to one or two Broad Match keywords is a good way to make sure your ad copy is as relevant as possible.

Use Long Tail Keywords

Test Broad Match variations of the keywords that have already demonstrated success within your account, whether that success is measured as higher ROI, more conversions, a lower CPA, or better quality leads. Use the information you already have to make data-driven decisions on where to begin experimenting. If you are not sure which keywords to add, always err on the side of longer tail, core, or even branded keywords. Broad Match brand campaigns can drive incremental conversions with better KPI’s than Non-Brand when built effectively.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are vital for any Broad Match effort. Broad Match takes away some of the control we love about exact and phrase match types. We can take some of this control back by taking the time to brainstorm some preemptive negatives. For example, if you are selling Schwinn Bikes, take the time to add in Schwinn Knobs as a negative. Don’t undermine your current account structure: make sure broad match is only matching to new variations by using filtering negatives. Always check back and continue to add in negatives as more traffic accrues.

Not Convinced? Try Mixed Modified Broad Match

If I still haven’t convinced you, you can always dip your toes in with mixed match type keywords. For example, do you carry various types of dresses, and you want to make sure you have a catch-all for numerous dress variations? Use keywords like ‘blue maxi +dress’ to ensure that ‘dress’ is in the search query, but also allow for flexibility to match to other words. That keyword is considered mixed modified broad match. You have some control while still bringing in new queries like ‘maxi lace dress’ that the pure modified broad match keyword +blue +maxi +dress would not pick up.

Want to try Broad Match, but be Extra Conservative at the Same Time?

You can also discover new search queries by limiting your audience just to searchers that have previously visited your website. By using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), you can create a campaign with broad match keywords (say ‘trendy dress’), and see what similar terms your site visitors are searching. Make sure to set your RLSA audience to Target and Bid so you are limiting the campaign to only previous site visitors.

Broad Match campaigns can be a great tool for expansion and growth for a number of accounts. In fact, Broad Match might be the next big PPC comeback, just like your mom jeans.