In the world of pay-per-click advertising, marketers are constantly searching for tools that can help improve campaign performance. The AdWords Search Terms Report is one of the most valuable, used for optimizing existing ad campaigns and developing keyword strategies for new ones. When utilized properly, it can help lower CPCs, improve click through rate, and even provide insight into organic search terms that can assist in developing fresh campaigns. However, without the right campaign structure, you may miss out on some of the most helpful features. This article serves as a guide to getting the most out of your AdWords efforts through the use of this powerful tool.
Campaign Structure: Broad Match and Exact Match Ad Groups
While PPC pros know the importance of separating keywords into highly refined ad groups, many don’t take the next step and create Broad and Exact Match versions of these ad groups. For example, there may be an ad group for “Green Men’s Tennis Shoes,” that is very well defined, but could benefit from having a “Green Men’s Tennis Shoes-Exact” ad group and a “Green Men’s Tennis Shoes-Broad” ad group. The point is to drive as much qualified traffic as possible to the Exact Match ad group by using the Broad Match ad group to cast a wide net that captures long tail keywords and other variations.
Once the campaigns are correctly structured and are given sufficient time to collect click data, the benefits of using the Search Terms Report become apparent. Relevant terms gathered from the Search Terms Report are added to the Exact Match ad group, and negative matched to the Broad Match ad group. By filtering all relevant search terms in this way, advertisers are left with a set of keywords that are more targeted, which can in turn boost Quality Score thus lowering CPCs and improving ROI.
Running the Search Terms Report
In the Broad Match ad group, open the keywords tab.
Depending on the volume of the ad group and the length of time being analyzed, the Search Terms Report may be pretty large, so just start with the broad match keyword that has the most traffic. Select the keyword and open “Details” and click “Selected” to run the Search Terms Query Report.
Download the report in Excel and we can commence the very cosmic sounding, but in practice quite painstaking practice of Optimization:
Step 1: Ensure the Keywords are Exact Match
Depending on whether you are using AdWords Editor or working directly with the AdWords interface, you will either need to bracket the keywords you have downloaded or insert a Keyword Type column next to them. Let’s assume we are working directly with the AdWords interface and are going to copy and paste the keywords directly into the ad group. The easiest way to add brackets is to insert a new column and concatenate the keywords. If the keyword is in cell B6 for example, simply type the formula =”[“&B6&”]”. This will apply brackets around the keyword.
Step 2: Separate Keywords
I prefer to begin by color formatting each keyword into 3 groups: Green, Yellow and Red.
Green is “add to the Exact match ad group” list. These are all terms that are relevant to the Exact Match ad group but are still being captured by broad match terms and therefore need to be included in the Exact Match ad group. We know they are not already included in the Exact Match ad group or they would have matched directly to those terms.
Yellow is a set-aside – these are terms that are not relevant to the Exact Match ad group you are working on, but may be useful in another ad group or to start a new ad group or campaign.
Red is for terms that you want to delete at the campaign level – they are irrelevant to the entire campaign and therefore need to be dealt with more broadly (more on this in Step 3).
Step 3: Red Keywords
Once all the keywords have been categorized by color, sort the keywords by color starting with the Red keywords. Open the campaign you want to negative match them to and paste them into the Campaign Level box. (Note: If you have a list of keywords that you would like to add to multiple campaigns or across the entire account, you should create a List of keywords in the shared Library. This allows you to apply a list of keywords across multiple campaigns. Under Shared Library, open Campaign negative keywords and click on “+List”).
Click save. You are now done with the Red keywords.
Step 4: Green Keywords
Sort the spreadsheet by color on the Green keywords. Open the Exact Match counterpart to the Broad Match Ad Group that you originally pulled the Search Term data from. Click “Add Keywords,” then copy and paste the Green list into the Exact Match Ad Group. Click Save.
Step 5: Negative Match Green Keywords
Open the Broad Match Ad Group again. Add the same green list to the negative keywords list, this time at the Ad Group level. The point here is that any keywords in the Exact Match ad group should be exact negative matched in the Broad Match group so traffic is routed through the Exact Match terms first:
Click Save. You are now done with the Green keywords.
Step 6: Yellow Keywords
You should now have a (hopefully) small group of keywords that either belong in a different ad group altogether or are part of an ad group that you have not yet begun. Separate these out into two groups however you like, and for those that have an existing ad group repeat the same steps you did for the Green keywords for these appropriate ad groups. These remaining keywords should only be those that may be candidates for their own campaign or ad group, since the most irrelevant ones should have been included in the red category.
Step 7: Create a “Potential” list from Yellow keywords
Take a look at the original search terms download and sort these remaining keywords by number of Impressions. These specific terms may have a low number of impressions, but could provide ideas for related terms that have higher traffic volume. It is a good idea to keep a “potential” list going that can then be uploaded to the Keyword Tool when in need of additional keyword suggestions and groupings.
Working the Search Terms Query Report this way will, over time, assist in creating a healthy list of exact match, negative match, and long tail terms which should in turn drive down your overall CPC and improve CTR and Quality Score. When completed weekly, the report becomes more manageable and allows the account to keep pace with potential changes in search behavior.