How To Do Search Query Reports and Why They’re Important

By Blaine Anderson | Aug 28, 2013
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Sometimes words can have multiple meanings, or they can be used in a variety of different contexts. For example, imagine you sell monkey wrenches and are trying to make sure that whenever people search for monkey wrenches, your ad is right there telling them how amazing your wrenches are. The problem is that bidding on the keyword “monkey wrench” on broad and phrase match might trigger your ads for searches like “monkey business,” “Foo Fighters monkey wrench,” or “monkey bread” (which is delicious, by the way), simply because the words are so common.

Just looking at the organic search results for that query illustrates this point.

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Some of you may think, “That’s no big deal! At least I would be getting my name out there.” However, this truly is a problem. If your ads are showing for things that are unrelated to your business, it is unlikely that someone will click on them. If your ads have a lot of impressions, but few clicks, Google will think your ads have little to do with the keywords you are bidding on. Eventually, if the problem gets bad enough, Google will stop showing your ads altogether. Monitoring your search query reports (SQR’s) and adding negative keywords can prevent this from happening.

First, decide which of your campaigns need the most help. In this case, I’m going to pick the campaign with the 1.17% CTR (Note: the two campaigns that have even lower CTRs are display campaigns. I expect them to have a lower CTR, and this process would be different for them).

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Next, select the ad group you want to look at first. This will take you to the Keywords tab. Directly below the performance graph, you will see a drop-down menu labeled “Details.”

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Open the drop-down menu and look at the options for “Search Terms.” You can choose to see the search terms for all keywords in the ad group, or just the keywords that you select using the checkboxes beside each keyword. Selecting either of those options will bring you to this screen:

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Here you will see all of the search queries that resulted in clicks. For the sake of space, I cut off most of the columns, but AdWords gives you all of the usual metrics like impressions, clicks, CTR, average position, conversions, etc.

The search terms with the green “Added” label are keywords that are already in your campaign. Search terms without the green “Added” label are other queries that generated your ad. The column “Match type” indicates how the search term relates to the keywords you bid on, not the match type of the keyword you bid on. For example, if you are bidding on the phrase match of the keyword “monkey wrench,” and someone clicks on your ad after searching just for those words, then that click will show as Exact Match in the SQR because the search term matched exactly with the keyword you were bidding on. On the other hand, the search term “Foo Fighters monkey wrench” would show up as Phrase Match in the SQR because it contained the exact phrase you bid on, along with other words before it.

As you review these search terms, you will probably notice both good and bad search terms. You can add any of these search terms to your campaign as any match type by selecting the search term and clicking “Add as Keyword” button…

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…or, you can add them as negatives by selecting the search term and choosing the “Add as Negative Keyword” button.

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By adding negative keywords, you tell Google that you do not want your ads to show when a person searches for that particular search term. In the picture above, I’m telling Google that whenever someone searches for “monkey business,” I do not want my ad to show. It’s best to monitor these reports on a consistent basis and add negative keywords regularly. And if you can think of a few search terms that you know you want to exclude from the beginning, you can add them as negative keywords without running an SQR. Doing all of these things will help you catch problems early, or prevent them from happening in the first place. That way, you can spend the rest of your time enjoying a nice piece of monkey bread….mmmm…monkey bread…

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What successes have you had doing SQR’s? Feel free to leave a comment below, or reach out to me on Twitter! @BlaineAAnderson

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