The AdWords Search Term Report

What is the single most valuable and effective AdWords keyword research tool? You may think the keyword tool is all you will ever need. I would encourage you to think again.

There is no single AdWords keyword research tool as effective as the Search Terms Report. Has the Google algorithm ever walked into your place of business, or purchased any of your products or services? No, of course not! The keyword tool will never be able to tell you as much about your customers, as the customers themselves can.

It’s a common mistake many of us make when creating keyword lists, to assume that the keyword tool, or even the industry expert managing the in-house AdWords campaigns, uses the same language to describe the same things as the customer. “A rose by any other name…” does not smell as sweet, when a rose by any other name is no longer a rose in the mind of the user.

You may know as the business owner or account manager that the proper industry term for the product you sell is ‘gears’; however, a user that thinks that product is a ‘widget’ is going to be searching for that term, and looking for ads with that term. Yes, you know what they are really looking for are gears, but do not assume that your customers know, or even care what the proper industry term for your product or service is. “The customer is always right” certainly applies to the keywords searched for, and the ads clicked on by that user.

There are many different strategies and approaches to using the search terms report. Here are some of the things I may do to try and use the search terms report to improve account performance, when sorting the data by different metrics:

Conversions: If you read our blog with any regularity, by now you already know, we like conversions, and generating sales for our clients here at TCC. Clicks cost you money, conversions make you money. There is always, only one exact match search query term that generates the majority of your conversions and sales. Perhaps all other exact search query terms combined generate more total conversions than that one term, but no other single exact match search query term compares. Find that single highest conversion generating exact match search query term, and make sure that you are accruing 100% of the potential impression share for that exact term, within your targeted area. If you have a limited budget, and you cannot get 100% impression share, spend all of your available budget first and foremost on the top converting / revenue generating term. That’s where the return is, that’s where the budget should go.

Cost: If an exact search term has cost more than a profitable cost per conversion, with no conversions, it may be worth addressing. Perhaps you don’t want to exclude that term all together though. If you are getting interested traffic for a below average cost per visit, maybe it’s worth continuing to advertise on that exact term, and try a different landing page. The conversion event takes place on site, so there’s only so much you can do to try and increase conversions with the ad text, or keywords used. If you are limited by what you can do with the site, or potential landing pages available, then perhaps you do exclude that term. If users searching for that term are expecting one thing when they click on the ad, but get something different on site, that user may not be part of your target market.

Impressions: Look for the highest impressions and lowest CTR terms, and consider excluding those terms from your campaign / account. Historical CTR is the primary factor in determining a keywords quality score. If improving quality score of your broad or phrase match terms is a concern, then exclude the lowest CTR underlying search query terms that trigger an ad to show for the most relevant terms.

Cost per – Conversion, and/or Click: If a search term converts regularly, but the cost per conversion is too high, the average cost per click may provide some insights. The top positions may be the highest converting positions, but the CPC costs and competition may be much greater as well. You may have to ask yourself – “Is it really worth it to advertise on that term”? If it’s your top converting term, I would still say yes, absolutely. You may “lose” a few conversions by reducing the bid and the the CPC costs, but if the cost per conversion becomes profitable, and the term generates the majority of your conversions, you are still making money.

If you have never used the search terms report before, try this:

Click on the keywords tab for the entire account. Set your date range to all time. Click on keyword details and select all. Sort the results by the key performance indicators that are most important to you (conversions, cost, impressions, clicks, etc.) and just take a few minutes to look at… whatever you see.  You never know what real world actual customer market research data insights you can and will gain from this tool, if you don’t give it a try! 🙂