Several months ago, Google introduced a new feature for broad match enhancement on its pay per click programs called modified broad match.   Previously, Google allowed one to bid on keywords in three ways.

  1.  Exact Match:  The search keyword must exactly match the bid term.
  2.  Phrase Match:  The bid term can appear with other words but stay in the exact phrase.  For example if you bid on “Antique Furniture" – your ad would show on “antique furniture stores", but not on “furniture in Antique Stores.
  3.  Broad Match:  The words in your search term could appear in any order: For example if you bid on “kitchen remodel "  a search term such as “remodel your kitchen ideas" would trigger an add. 

There is a caveat in the broad match for Google in that Google will also show ads that may not contain the terms but contain synonyms or related terms.  For example “antique furniture" could show an ad for “old furniture".     

While this “feature" could definitely expose your ads to more searches, it also could show your ad searches that are not relevant and waste a lot of money.  Google offers a reporting tool that shows the exact search terms that triggered the ad to show.   In many cases one would find several search terms that you would not want your add to show for.  For example, a bid on “material handling cart" had the ad showing for “beer carts". 

To compensate for this one basically had to choose between putting in a bunch of negative keywords or reverting to phrase match or exact match to eliminate that nonsense.  That is until modified broad match.   With modified broad match you can eliminate Google’s interpretation of your intent and make sure that only the words are in your search phrase are used, although they can still be in any order.  You can enable modified broad match by putting a plus sign (+) in front of the word you want to restrict.  The nice thing about this feature is that you can put a plus sign in front of every word or just in front of your critical words.

For example:
If you bid broad match on “medical supplies" it is possible that Google might interpret “Nursing Cart" as being relevant.  If you put a plus sign in front of medical “+medical supplies"   then “medical" must appear in the expression but it is possible that “equipment for medical uses" could trigger your ad.  You can put a plus sign in front of both words (+medical +supplies") to disallow any synonyms; so “supplies for medical industry" would show the ad, but “Medical industry supply" would not.

In general I have found this to be a very useful feature to improve the quality of ppc traffic to your site, without overly restricting the traffic.