Mining for AdWords gold: Search queries

Phased outAs part of Google’s phasing out of the AdWords Report Center, the traditional ‘Search Query Performance’ report is no longer available. But there are new and better ways to mine this critical data for gold nuggets!

Using Google AdWords reports to track performance of the keywords you are bidding on is fundamental to search marketing success, and the ease with which this can be done is a source of delight for search marketers, especially when compared to measuring traditional forms of advertising. For any given keyword you are bidding on, take ‘industrial supplies’ for example, it is easy to get metrics like impressions, clicks, conversions, cost per conversion and then make decisions that will lead to better performance.

Most folks also realize the additional value of being able to dig a little deeper to see the actual search queries that users are typing into the search box. This information can uncover some real gold that may otherwise be overlooked, because if you are bidding on ‘industrial supplies’ on anything other than exact match, your ad could very well be showing up for search terms like: ‘cheap industrial supplies‘, ‘industrial supplies oregon‘, ‘industrial equipment and supplies‘, ‘industrial painting supplies‘ and thousands of other variations. Some of these may be valuable, others may be fool’s gold.

Not so very long ago in the short history of search engine marketing, this data was not as accessible as many would’ve liked, served up only in a special report, with large chunks of information missing. (The infamous ‘other unique queries’.)

Times change (quickly) and this industry evolves (rapidly) and now more complete search query data is available from a couple of sources. At the same time, the traditional Search Query Performance report has been phased out of the AdWords Report Center – along with just about every other kind of report. So let’s look at how we can get at the AdWords search query gold now:

1. Within AdWords Keyword data in UI: Recent enhancements to the AdWords user interface include the ability to generate an ‘on the fly’ report on search terms. From the ‘Keywords’ tab, you can select the ‘See search terms’ button to go to a report on search terms. This shows all the search terms used, with indications as to which ones you are currently bidding on. The nice thing here is that you can instantly add keywords or even add negative keywords directly from this report. And you can also download the report in CSV format.


Negative keyword

2. Google Analytics AdWords data: With the recent AdWords reporting enhancements to Google Analytics, it is easy to get a look at actual search terms being used. Simply go to ‘Traffic Sources’>’AdWords beta’>’Keywords’ and then use the second dimension box to select ‘Matched Search Query’. Here you get a nice side-by-side listing of keywords you are bidding on along with matched terms. The additional advantage, of course, is that you get all that juicy post-click behavioural data, such as bounce rate, goal completions, and – if you have Ecommerce tracking set up – revenue. Now that’s real gold!

Matched search queries

So there are 2 ways to mine a little deeper into your AdWords account and use search query data to improve performance of your keyword advertising. Both of these methods offer some advanced flexibility and power compared to the old AdWords Search Query Performance report. And using either one of them can yield some golden opportunities.