Mining the “Long Tail” of Google Search Query Negative Keywords

By Tad Miller | Aug 9, 2007
More Articles by Tad


When Google recently released their Search Query Performance Reports I was both fascinated and infuriated. Search Query Reports show performance data for the actual search queries that triggered your ads.

Janet has blogged about how irrelevant many of those queries were. But I’m writing about what I did about our findings and what the results have been.

Most of my work is in the automotive sector. We knew we were likely Broad Matching to a lot of irrelevant search queries, but we never knew how many until the Search Query report showed us.

What we discovered was that it really wasn’t just a couple of irrelevant words that were garnering the majority of irrelevant clicks, but an endless string of keyword phrases that were garnering a click here and there a day, every day. It’s the classic “Long Tail” situation where the tail of the bar graph ads up to more than the fat head of big hitters – but in this unique situation it was for things that we didn’t want.

So we really had to mine the Negative keywords from the search query reports, which was really labor intensive. Exporting the reports to CSV at least saved us from having to type them. We entered both Exact Match Negatives to AdGroups and Campaign level Negatives gleaned from the reports. It was a lot of work and truthfully I think it’s something we are going to be doing regularly for quite a while. More kudos to AdWords Wrapper for a quick and easy way to make Exact Matches for the negatives.

The results were almost instantaneous, conversion actions spiked dramatically upward. Campaigns that were previously strapped for budget and dark early in the day suddenly had Impression Shares increasing by 40% or more and lasted the whole day. Costs per click also dropped significantly and with the increased number of conversion actions our costs per conversions likewise dropped.

With over 2 weeks worth of data to estimate from we’ve also seen Google’s budget estimator tools now tell us that Campaigns that previously needed something like $4,500 per day now need about half that amount. Which has freed up money for other Campaigns that need more funding.

Eliminating searches for things like “gear shift knobs” may only amount of a couple of dollars of savings per week, but adding a couple of hundred other similarly irrelevant Negative keywords gleaned from Search Query Performance Reports has made a big difference in trying to sell new vehicles.

Amazingly, almost none of the Negative keywords we are using from the Search Query Reports were found on Google’s Negative keyword generator.

It’s now just a regular part of our process to check these reports at least every week to improve our efficiency. It’s also valuable in finding keyword alternatives that we actually want to advertise on.

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