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Optimize your Campaigns with the AdWords Search Term Report

White Shark Media

11 years ago



The Adwords Search Term Report is one of the first places we like to review when we audit Google Ads accounts from new clients. how-to-optimize

Figuring out how to control the search terms you appear for can be one of your best allies when trying to strengthen a running campaign or to put into practice new ways in order to make a profit.

The search terms in the AdWords Search Terms Report are the actual terms your ads are receiving clicks for.

Google therefore only uses your keywords to better target the search terms you want to appear under. Keywords are not your final list of what search terms are actually triggering in your ads.

This is especially the case if you’re using broad match, broad match modifier, or phrase match keywords.


How Do I Get a Search Term Report?

A search term report can be accessed from many levels in your account. You can access a search term report at the account, campaign, and ad group level.

I recommend accessing your search term report on the ad group level as the negative keywords you want to add are easier to process if you’re only working on one ad group at a time.

The way to access the Search Terms Report is by going to your Keywords tab and clicking on the Keyword Details dropdown menu and choose search terms. You have two options:

  1. You can see the search terms for a specific keyword by selecting the keyword and clicking on Selected from the dropdown menu or
  2. You can see the search terms for all the keywords within the ad group, the campaign, or the account you’ve accessed:

optimize adwords campaigns

As you can see in the screenshot above, accessing your search terms will immediately take you to an additional page that will show an entire list of the search terms your keyword list has triggered as well as the same metrics for your own keyword list.

You can then download the list of search terms in order to analyze and sort through the data. I personally do process the search terms report directly in the AdWords interface. I do however recommend downloading this report in order to have the information and to be able to notice any trends.


What to Look for in Your AdWords Search Term Reports

When I come across something like this:


(A funnier version should be made… I couldn’t find anything better)

There’s so much that can be exploited here that you can spot opportunities absolutely everywhere! And the list is pretty long:

  • New keyword opportunities
  • Finding the match type that works best
  • Building a strong negative keyword list
  • Cut down on costs for irrelevant search terms
  • Make a higher profit with converting keywords

All of this is possible only by viewing an account’s search term report.


Discover New Keyword Opportunities with the AdWords Search Terms Report

There will come a time when you will want to start off fresh and create a new campaign. However, what could you do differently this time? You most likely will need new keywords and you may consider using the keyword tool for additional research. This is always a good option. As you already have data from your current keywords, you can see new variations in your current list by only taking a look at the search terms that resulted from your current keyword list.

By sorting outperformance in your search term report and choosing keywords that have had excellent metrics according to what you have estimated for your campaign, you can include them in your new campaign in order to benefit from them. Remember that in the future they can also trigger new search terms that could also be added.

Analyze What Match Type Works Best


The Search Term report can also do something quite special as it shows you how keyword and search term relates in the Match Type column. This column allows you to see by match type how closely related the search term is to the keyword.

You will get a good overview of the potential match types you should be using. Let me give you an example: We audited for a home inspection products supplier account that was only using broad match for the entire campaign.

When looking at the search terms for the keyword Gas Detectors, we could see that they were making sales from the same keyword in an exact match at a much lower cost per conversion than the broad match version of the same keyword.

It’s also good to check for a pattern in search terms as you can see what match type is the most predominant. By recognizing the most common match type in your search terms you can consider creating another campaign to better track performance at this level based on that match type.

In the Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) interface, you can directly add the keyword to the ad group of your choice. However, it’s important to point out that search terms will automatically be added in broad match. You, therefore, need to use the proper punctuation marks when adding the keyword.

First, choose the keyword you would like to add:


Then modify the keyword and if you wish you can add a specific bid or URL for this keyword. In this example, we added the keyword “wireless security camera” and we modified it to its broad match modifier equivalent: +wireless +security +camera with a bid of $1.50.


Build a Stronger Negative Keyword List with the AdWords Search Terms Report

Apart from giving you great new keyword ideas that you can use for your campaign, you can also look through your list of search terms to find a couple of terms that have nothing to do with your business except perhaps for a couple of words.

Trimming the fat from your AdWords account is one of the most essential tactics to reach profitability. With the Search Terms Report, you’ll be able to know exactly what search terms are just giving you clicks, which are not resulting in any sales.

With this knowledge, you can either add the keyword in another ad group to work with the associated ad or you can exclude your ads from being shown on these terms through the use of negative keywords.

In order to be able to add some of these search terms to your current ad groups directly from the AdWords interface just choose the keywords that are irrelevant for your campaign and click the add on as negative keyword button:


Once you have selected these keywords as negative keywords you will then have to decide whether you want them to be added at ad group level or campaign level. As you can see in the example below, you can also change negative keywords default from exact match to broad or phrase match.



Search Terms Are an AdWords Advertiser’s Best Friend

The AdWords Search Term Report is definitely a tool, which every AdWords beginner should regularly be updated on. This feature is loaded with information on the performance of your current keywords. Taking this valuable data into account can definitely help you improve your results.

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