How to Add a "+" Before Each Word in Excel - Broad Match Modifiers Tutorial

17 March, 2020

Broad match modifiers are a popular Paid Search keyword match type, giving you the extended targeting of broad match without the scattergun targeting associated with pure broad match.

In a hurry and just want the formula? Here you go

="+"&SUBSTITUTE(A1," "," +")

But please read on, the following could be useful too.

What is a broad match modifier?

You can find more detailed information about how broad match modifiers work with our handy blog on the subject. In short, however, they work by adding a + symbol before keywords.

This tells Google that you are happy for them to broadly target searches related to your keywords, except for certain words which much match exactly, or be a close variant.

For example:

  • Sheffield Wednesday Football Shirts, as a broad match keyword, will target any searches that Google sees as being related to the phrase. This could include searches that aren’t quite specific enough.
  • +Sheffield +Wednesday Football Shirts, as a modified broad match keyword, will target searches relating to the phrase, but they must include the words “Sheffield” and “Wednesday”.

It is a common and effective practice to add a broad match modifier to every word as a more efficient way of targeting broad match traffic.

What if you have a large number of keywords?

If you have a large number of keywords in your account that you wish to add, adding the + sign to each keyword can be a time consuming (not to mention annoying) task.

This becomes even more tricky if, like me, you use Excel and Google Ads Editor to build out and publish bulk changes to an account.

Excel will confuse your + sign as an attempt to build a formula and end up confusing itself (and you).

This is where our formula comes in, originally shared by a kind user on Stack Overflow. For those who missed it at the top of this blog.

="+"&SUBSTITUTE(A1," "," +")

Simply paste this formula into the cell where you want your modified text to populate. In the example above, A1 is the cell containing your original text.

Hit enter and your modified broad match keyword is ready.

Being a formula, you can then drag your formula down to include further cells.

You can then paste your new keyword into Google Ads Editor. Just make sure you include the Campaign, Ad Group and Max CPC (optional) in separate columns.

Remember to copy your new column (which is currently just formulas) and paste back into the same column as Values only.

You can then remove the original keyword column, resulting in something that looks like this.

This example only includes 8 keywords, but it’s easy to see how this can be applied to very large keyword sets.

Things to remember

  1. You may not wish to apply the broad match modifier to every word in your keyword. Some of them are targeted enough to not require the modifier.
  2. Bulk uploads are useful but should always be carefully sense checked to ensure there is nothing that shouldn’t be there.
  3. Depending on the way your product is defined, you may get similar results by using phrase match keywords.
  4. Even though broad match modified keywords are more specific than pure broad match, they are still broad match keywords. Remember to stay on top of your negatives.

Do you like using cool Excel formulas when managing your PPC accounts? Here’s another on CPA based bulk bidding.

Useful Links

Written by Tom

Tom cites his key strengths as communication, writing and presenting. He enjoys working in digital due to the way it satisfies both the creative and logical sides of the brain.

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