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The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Level 4
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Over the winter I took over the administration of a friend's AdWords account, that I thought was being very sloppily managed. It has been running over just over 2 years and very little action was taken besides add keywords (or negatives).


A large majority of the thousand or so keywords were broad match so let's just say I have no shortage of data to work with.


I have cleaned it up extensively since then by making many phrase match keywords and adding a modifier (+) to most broad matches (the search terms report indicated this was quite important).


So now I have it so that the most common, relevant (as determined by their line of business) searches have phrase matches and then to be safe I usually add a same or similar modified broad match to the same keywords.


I did some pretty detailed analysis of which keywords in which order and which spelling (e.g. 'pickup' vs. 'pick up', etc.) their customers were using. There was no discernible rhyme or reason to it. So my question is:


Let's say that "cool widgets california" is the most common phrase (and phrase match keyword) yet I also obviously want to show up for california cool widget or the coolest widgets in california. (For discussion let's say they all get pretty significant traffic...40%, 35%, 25% respectively)


Ah yes, enter the modified broad match. Does any one have practical experience with the benefits of making all 3 phrases "phrase match" and again making all 3 phrases "modified broad match," in contrast to making the most common the phrase match and then making one additional broad match. The former seems like an awful lot of work that probably wouldn't have much impact.


Taken further, how do you approach the ordering of words in the broad match and the use of singulars and plurals? I have read about the improvements coming improvements to phrase matching but that doesn't mean that Google won't give preference to a perfect match (word order, plurality, etc.).


In short, what are the community's experiences with repetition and minor variation within keywords? 


While this may not seem like a big deal for our California Cool Widgets (asking almost seems like I am just lazy) it does become a big deal when the account has 30 ad groups and no obvious patterns in the queries as to singlar vs plural, geographic reference before or after, etc., not to mention doing it on a large scale for lots of clients.


On a related note, (and I think this is due to Google Instant) many of the queries would actually be "cool widgets sacramento california."  Assuming it is a local business (this one is), what is your take on variations of city and state. It seems the most certain practice would be to include every common variation of order among every match type but again this seems really excessive.


Your thoughts?

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Modified broad match Vs broad match

Top Contributor

Hello Adam;


Your post is a long one, and can be discussed from various aspects. I'd like to focus on two points you raised: modified broad match and targeting.

I have found the modified broad match the best way to handle all variations of KWs, minimizing the list of my KWs and having much better control. I find myself using less and less the "classic" broad match, - where I don't have any prior indiction what other similar words are included (in broad match), that may trigger an ad. With the "modified broad " - I have much stronger control over the KWs. (Of course, that after using a broad match, I can run a query report and find out "unrelated" KWs - but why getting into that if I can avoid it)

Let's take your example of cool widgets California . In broad match "cool" can be also triggered by cold or chilly... I doubt if these are the meanings of "cool" you were looking for.... +cool +widget +California would give you the keyword you were looking for including "coolest", "in California", "at California" (prepositions is the hardest part in any language...Smiley Wink)


If in Sacramento CA you are interested: why not to target both by location and by intent ? (by choosing in targeting: both physical location and intent. )



Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Level 7

Hello Adam,


I back up Mosh in what he has said about Broad Match Modifier and location targetting, however further to this I think you need to pay close attention to the structure. It can get very confusing and have detrimental effects if ad groups are filled with too many 'different' shall we say keywords. Make sure you keep in mind ads need to be relevant to keywords else QS will drop. In a sense the more you split out the better the account will perform.


Here is a great article on account structure:






Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Level 4
0 Stars

Sorry, it appears maybe I wasn't clear...


I have virtually eliminated unmodified broad matches...as noted, they are just too broad.


I understand the different types and by adding the modifier, as well as adding the most commonly searched phrases as phrase matches and negative keywords. If anything my goal is to create more specific, more targeted ads and more specific keywords, and the results have been very positive, CTR has nearly doubled, as have impressions and clicks. I also refined their advertising are by location and intent.


Previous to this their most popular keyword (broad match and had been running for nearly 18 months) was being triggered by queries that were 98% irrelevant that same keyword is now 90% relevant, 4% probable, 4% possible and 2% irrelevant.


Back to the hypothetical cool widgets company in Sacramento, CA. Assuming they targeted Sacramento by location and intent, would the ideal keyword list look like this:

"cool widgets"

+cool +widgets


[cool widget]


[cool widget sacramento]


[cool widget sacramento california]

[cool widgets]

[cool widgets sacramento]

[cool widgets sacramento california]


"cool widget"


"cool widget sacramento"

"cool widget sacramento california"



"sacramento cool widgets"


+cool +widget

+widget +cool

+cool +widgets

+widgets +cool




And those are just the simplest variations.


I mean it's entirely plausible that a totally relevany query could be "california widgets that look cool." (where presumably the last listed variation would be most relevant)


I recently read the majority of search queries entered into Google daily are unique, thus I looking for some guidance. Does anyone have any experience with the pros and cons of each approach. I'm pretty logical and to me the first approach would be fine but when I see the differeces in QS that Google places on singular or plural it sometimes boggles my mind.


Matter o' fact...after posting this I was working on that very account and I took a screenshot of 2 IDENTICAL keywords (I didn't realize that had happened) one with a QS of 7 one with a QS of 4, the 4 has been running for about a month now. And if anything the QS 4 is connected to a better ad and better landing page. See for yourself:



All that is to say that I don't want to act on "logic" if it is ineffective because a fair amount of stuff in AdWords just doesn't make logical sense (and if you ask support about it all they can ever offer is "mumble, mumble algorthim"...I tried).



Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

[ Edited ]
Level 7

Hi Adam,


Sorry for the confusion.


I find that when creating a keyword list both "Phrase" and [Exact] match are needed for every keyword variant, this is purely down to the fact that we can never fully predict exactly what someone is going to search. Where exact captures peoples specific search which is highly relevant phrase captures the people relating to what you are selling however used it in a phrase. I know you understand this like you said however there is always going to be a point where people don't think the same as you have in choosing keywords and have used it differently. As with BMM it jumps the word order about.


So in answer to your question an ideal keyword list would include phrase, exact, BMM for more specific terms which are all split out into very specific ad groups.


Plus, is the keyword with a lower QS using keyword inserted ads?


Hope this makes more sense.




Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Level 2

Hi Adam, Regarding your singlar vs. plural question I'd recommend checking out this link to the adwords blog. Google announced that the match type behavior is going to be changing in the near future, and in a sense becoming slightly less strict. It certainly adds a level of complexity to your discussion. 


New matching behavior for phrase and exact match keywords





Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Top Contributor


I am with Liam's notion on that; however, if it were my campaign, it would set only to +cool +widget. (That covers, as noted, singular and plurals, prepositions, ing form- e.g. widgetting - wouldn't surprise, if this form exists, etc... Smiley Surprised....). Plus, I would target by location and by intent.


(+widgets is meaningless, because covers by +widget. The same applies to the order of words: in "modified broad " - order of words follows the rules of broad match)



Marked as Best Answer

Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Level 4
0 Stars

@Liam Yes, the lower score is using the keyword insert tool and, rather surprisingly (this is an "all-time" list of keywords with low clicks, low display position, low traffic...these are some of the lowest avg. postion ads that I are they and they are on the chopping block), the CTR of the keyword insert ad is one of my highest,  frequency of display is much higher, and the avg. positon is higher 7.8 vs 8...yet it still gets a 4? ....No idea why.


@Moshe (and everyone else) I replied to a banner ad across the top of this account about "free account consultation," and the woman I spoke with was amazingly knowledgable. I asked about this topic and--bad news for us logical, efficient types--what she told me is that while there is no difference among match types but there is a preference for precise matching of words.


Thus, [cool widgets], "cool widgets", and +cool +widgets, will not have a lower cost or higher relevance against an identical (but presumably different match type) one or other...she said this in reference to a competitor. Just using the BMM would cover your bases with the others...


However, if the query is cool widgets sacramento california, then +cool +widgets +sacramento +california, from a competitor would beat out +cool +widget  from me. So although BMM covers variations in word order and plurality, it it still wise to add common modifiers like geography and use the most common plurality form when possible.


And, presumably, if you get a significant amount of searches for sacramento california cool widgets, to use that word order as well even with BMM.


Straight from the horse's mouth.

Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Top Contributor

Hi Adam,


I think the person you spoke with has oversimplified in her explanation. Let's say you have a query of "cool widgets", and you have all 3 match type (modified broad, phrase and exact). In this case, all 3 match types will have the same QS. QS is calculated for each query. If you have equal bids for all three match types, the most restrictive match type should win out. But in most cases the exact phrase keyword will have a higher value for you than the phrase match, and the phrase match more value than the broad match. Most advertisers will bid accordingly. Yes, you will be eligible to enter the auction with the modified broad match term, but you would also be eligible for many, many other queries, making it of a lower value to you, and deservign of a lower bid. I assure you your competitors are using the strategy.


Now, let's look at your other question regarding the DKI ad group. The CTR of the ad has absolutely no affect on the QS of a keyword in the group. What will affect that keyword most is the CTR for that keyword within the ad group, followed by the CTR of that keyword in the campaign, your account and across all accounts. "Relevancy" in most cases is Googlespeak for CTR. Relevancy is determined by the users, not really by the text of your ad or your landing page compared to your keywords. It is no wonder that a keyword with a low CTR in an ad group has a low quality score. If that keyword has a higher CTR in another ad group, it could have  ahigher QS in that group. I would caution you against using the same keyword in more than one ad group/campaign. The interaction is difficult to analyse.


I do hope this makes sense to you. Many users on this forum have been working AdWords accounts for longer than most of Google's consultants.


Best of Luck!






petebardo -- Deadhead doing AdWords

Re: The order of words, singular vs. plural, and other slightly complex questions

Level 4
0 Stars

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the reply. I assume you are speaking from practical experience here, and forgive me if I am overly analytical, but if "cool widgets" is the most common way people ask for my product (and inconsistencies that don't seem rational to me are a comon occurence in QS) then it doesn't seem that "cool blue wigets" or "cool widgets sacremento california" would be any more or less applicable (assuming I sell cool blue widgets in sacramento).


Granted, I wouldn't want to lose out on a bid for "cool widgets" because my competitors are bidding higher for exact match.


That said, and maybe this is just a quirk but I ask in case you are familiar. The account I have in mind (and screen shot) I took over from another company, they used broad match and generic ads heavily. I am shifting away from that but I am also trying to make changes incrementally so I don't freakout the account holder. 


I created some pretty specific, narrowly targeted ads with phrase matches only, but left the broad match ads running simultaneously for maybe a month and then reviewed. Even on the precise phrase/words (search terms report) for which I had created the specific ads, they were triggerring the broad match (which did have a lower bid) frequently enough that I don't think it was a fluke.


What is your take on that? Not enough time? The account has plently of history, I figured the 'keyword/new ad' jitters would resolve themselves in 7-14 days and the new, higher bid, phrase match, better written ads would take over, leaving the broad match to catch the remaining oddly-worded queries but that didn't seem to happen. Am I missing something?

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