Read, Learn and Grow

Venture Stream Blog

Blog Main 4

How To Get the Most Out of Your Search Term Report

February 17, 2016

The search term report for me has to be one of the most powerful & insightful data resources AdWords has to offer and tells you exactly what people searched for when your ad was triggered. Here I want to share with you some of the ways I use the report to further optimise our clients’ accounts.

I personally use the search term report as much as possible and would recommend you use it at least on a weekly basis. At the end of the day AdWords is all about getting your ads in front of the most relevant audience possible and this report provides vital data to help you get there.

For those who are not too familiar with the report here is what it looks like and how to find it, thankfully it’s been made a lot more accessible than it once was! As you can see the Search Terms are displayed in the first column followed by the Match Type and which Campaign/Ad Group the term relates to.


Keyword Match Types

Now before taking to this report it’s vital that you fully understand your keyword match types and what they bring to the table. Typically, you will find the following match types in your account or a client’s account.

  • [Exact Match]
  • +Broad +Match +Modifier
  • “Phrase Match”

So let’s say you are an online retailer selling men’s trainers. Here are some typical examples you may find in the account.

  • [mens trainers] – you will only appear when someone searched for the exact phrase of “mens trainers” and nothing else.
  • +mens +trainers – here you will appear for any search term that features the word “mens” and “trainers”; for example, “mens running trainers”.
  • “mens trainers” – here you will appear for the any term that features the phrase “mens trainers” in that particular order and nothing in the middle; for example, “cheap mens trainers”.

As you can probably figure out, exact keywords provide excellent relevancy whereas broad match keywords generate a lot more volume but are typically less relevant if not controlled correctly. This is where the search term report comes into play! If your broad and phrase match keywords are not tamed correctly this can lead to lower quality score and therefore increased CPCs and CPAs as a result.


Quality Score:

Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads and landing pages triggered by a certain keyword. CTR has a big effect on quality score so the more times your ad appears and does not get clicked on your score goes down, so not only are people not clicking your ads, you are also paying more per click in the long run. The search term report plays a big part in helping you make sure your search terms are as relevant as possible to your ads.


Identify Negative Keywords

Here I want to use a real example from one of our clients who are one of the biggest house buying services in the UK. Not long after setting up the account with various exact and broad match keywords it was time to take a look at the search term report and see what further optimisation could be done.

There are more than a few of bonuses to adding negative keywords, one being to increase quality scores and boosting CTR and secondly to save money and lower your CPAs.

  • So first things first the report was filtered so I could only see the broad and phrase match keywords.
  • The first stage was to filter by cost and see what terms we were paying the most for and to see if they deem relevant. First example was the term “sell your house cash spain” which was a result of our BMM keyword +sell +house +cash. Firstly, our client does not buy properties in Spain so therefore adding the negative –spain was our first step, meaning we will no longer be wasting money on a term that will never convert and will help directly in lowering our overall CPAs.
  • Now let’s say this search term was generating a lot of impressions and had a very low CTR, this would be another reason to add the –spain negative to ensure this term is not dragging down our overall quality score and increasing our CPCs!


Keyword Opportunities

Another fantastic use for the search term report is identifying keyword opportunities that are not currently in your account but are performing well.

  • Best place to start is by filtering only broad and phrase match keywords as exact keywords will already be in your campaign.
  • Now you can sort the report to see which keywords are performing well. You want to be looking at keywords that seem relevant and are driving clicks and conversions. You should also take into account CTR to gauge the overall quality of the keyword.
  • Now you can add these to your account to ensure you are ads are triggered for the search term in the future.



As you’ve seen there is more to the search term report than at first glance. Use the data correctly and you’ll take big strides towards a well optimised account.

  • Increase quality score
  • Block unwanted phrases
  • Better CPCs
  • Position increases
  • Better CTR
  • New keyword opportunities
  • Lower CPAs


Still unsure how to use the Search Term Report to its’ full potential?

Tweet us or comment below, or for any traditionalists out there, give us a call on 0191 5800 696 or drop us an email and we’re happy to help!