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How Do You Handle Search Terms?

Participant ✭ ☆ ☆
# 1
Participant ✭ ☆ ☆

Hi All,


As part of assessing my work and my optimization process I want to know how you handle your search terms.


I was taught to either add or exclude everything. I'm not sure this is the best choice anymore, the amount of extra work it creates with sorting into new ad groups I'm not sure is worth it. 


So opinions? Experience?



3 Expert replyverified_user

Re: How Do You Handle Search Terms?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Hi Abbie.
This used to be the approach that we took. But, like yourself, this became way too much effort.

So what we do now is use broad match modifier instead of broad match for broad campaigns and use negative keyword LISTS instead of negatives at the campaign or ad group level. It's a bit of effort at the start but it's a much easier approach. We take a look at the search term report once a week or month (even ask clients to do the same) and add the negatives into the account or category based negative lists that we have set up across an account.

We don't add or exclude anything from the search term report directly anymore. I didn't think ANYONE did Smiley Happy
Move to list based management and your life will be a lot easier. Trust me on this one.

Re: How Do You Handle Search Terms?

Rising Star
# 3
Rising Star
Hi Abbie,

Good suggestions by Dave.
Even i suggest you to add a list of all general and niche based negative keywords for all the campaigns via shared library to get rid of extra efforts.

And frequency of accessing search term report will also be effected by this general negative keywords list as well as keywords match types.
If you are not using this this then you may need to go through SQR very frequently and weekly is good to go.

Also, adding search query as negative keyword will not impact a lot as user make search with similar query again.
So, build your negative keyword list on loose keyword match types to restrict other similar queries.

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Re: How Do You Handle Search Terms?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi @Abbie R,


I use search term report to check if the campaigns are actually reaching out to the right segment of people or not. It's really important. No matter how extensive your pre-setup research may be, you can't be 100% relevant in terms of reach. That's where this report helps. About the frequency of checking it, it depends on the budget/comprehensiveness of the campaigns in question. But I do check them at least twice a week. 


I personally don't see an point in adding or excluding search terms from the report interface as @Dave_Davis as well shared his experience. There are two things -


1. If you keep adding all similar search terms as keywords, the adgroup/campaign would get confusing after some time. There will be more than one keyword eligible to enter the auction for a user's query. The system will pick the most relevant one and ignore others. This way after a few weeks you will notice that majority of the keywords in the group are now failing miserably on the metrics and performance. Eventually you will need to pause them else they will be impacting your overall in-account metrics, costs and finally performances.


Such search terms are not usually unique or unforeseen. They are very much similar to the keywords chosen which are already triggering your ads. Why to add them separately then. However, it does make sense if more of the broad match keywords (not BMM) are being used. A search terms report for broad match keywords may work as keyword discovery tool. But it is usually costly if you wish to discover new keywords this way. Smiley Happy


2. About adding negatives from the report interface, this again is not something I prefer. When you look at the report to find irrelevant terms, you will notice that entire phrase is not irrelevant, but some specific words are. Why to exclude them all? Does it make sure that ads won't trigger for problematic word in that phrase? I usually read the report with Notepad open where I take note of irrelevant/problematic words. When done, I add them all to negative list. It keeps things easier for me. 


Ratan Jha
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Re: How Do You Handle Search Terms?

Badged Google Partner
# 5
Badged Google Partner
My first experience with AdWords was adding every single search query to master lists - But, that was back when the search query report was download only, and there were nothing in the report which let you know if the queries had been included or excluded. So... Someone has done that before, even if it was only me. Smiley Happy

There is always one, or just a few terms that generate the majority of your conversions/revenue. Make sure those top terms are in their own campaign, in exact match only, with enough budget to cover 100% impression share. Broader versions of those terms using embedded negative match should be the next area to invest in, using as much budget as is profitable/acceptable.

After that, your search inventory can start to see a point of diminishing return. You can really chase your tail there if you worry too much about each single impression/click search term coming through in the reports. Many of those terms may be too low volume to add as a KW anyway, and if there's that low volume, excluding those query strings won't have any effect after the one click ever has already happened. Smiley Happy The key to keeping the longer tail manageable is using combinations of match types, negatives, bids, budget, and ad content to cover as much as possible, without having a huge structure.