Media + PR + Analytics

Search Term Reports: We Know What You Searched Last Night

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Cindy Frisch

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search term reports

What is AdWords?

Before we dig into search term reports (and all the funny things we’ve discovered thanks to those reports), here’s a little background for those who need it: AdWords is Google’s powerful online advertising tool that allows just about anybody to advertise their business online. Advertisers bid on specific keywords in order for their ads to appear in Google’s search results.

Each time a user clicks on these ads, AdWords charges the advertiser a certain amount of money for the click. The cost depends on what they’re willing to spend, what their competitors are spending and a number of other performance metrics.

Google AdWords can be extremely effective for many types of businesses, but the continual management and optimization is where most advertisers get hung up.

Search term reports are one of our favorite optimization tools that are underutilized in many AdWords campaigns.

Using Search Term Reports

Over the years, the LSB team has managed and audited hundreds of AdWords campaigns. While managing and reviewing those campaigns, we’ve also seen a lot of search term reports.

Some of these terms were well thought out, some were sad, some were funny and some…were just downright strange.

What’s a search term report you might ask?

Have you ever thought, “Wow. If anyone ever saw my Google search history, I’d be mortified.”

Here’s some disturbing news for you. Someone, somewhere sees those if you click on a Google ad.

No, I don’t mean someone is tracing it back to your computer to ID and embarrass you. However, the folks that optimize Google AdWords campaigns can see exact search queries that Google searchers have used.


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If you typed in “order pizza near me” and subsequently clicked on the ad for Topper’s, that exact search term you used would appear in a Google AdWords search term report. This is great news for advertisers, as it provides a window into what users are specifically searching for.

Those reports provide great insight into consumer behavior, sure. But sometimes, those results can also provide insight into… we’re not sure. The human condition?

Drumroll Please….

Here are our top 5 best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) Google searches from the first half of 2016 as pulled from several recent search term reports.

  1. “what medication can I use to sedate my vicious cat”We get it. Cats can be terrible.
  2. “find my boyfriend using GPS tracking”Stalking in all its glory.
  3. “marijuana vending machine equipment”Wait. Are these real?
  4. “that movie about lawn mowers?”Riveting.
  5. “how to remove awful stink from mattress comforter sheets”We don’t even want to know.

The search terms above are great examples of how Google ads can show up for unpredictable and sometimes irrelevant searches. The problem is, that can cause advertisers to waste a lot of money.

Imagine that your company is trying to sell a GPS for use in a vehicle, and your Google ad showed up to a user that was interested in stalking her boyfriend via GPS. The girl clicks on your ad, sees your website, instantly finds out that it’s not what she was looking for (a vehicle GPS isn’t going to help her effectively stalk her boyfriend), and you, the advertiser, wasted money on a click. That click might have cost you $5, and that’s five less dollars you have to ensure your ad appears in front of someone who might actually need/want your product.

This is where search term reports become very handy. If you travel to your search term tab in your Google AdWords account, you can find these keywords and make sure to block these types of searches in the future. By adding in a negative keyword for “boyfriend” you’ll ensure that searches including that specific word don’t populate your ad ever again.

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Here at LSB, we don’t want our clients to waste their money on clicks that aren’t relevant to their business goals. That’s why we are constantly analyzing search term reports and adding negative keywords to block these wasteful search queries and clicks. As seen above though, every now and again one slips by due to the randomness and sheer strangeness of the query.

The search term reports can also be a great place to find new keywords that you may have missed when you set up your campaign.

Conducting a search term analysis on a continual basis is imperative to your AdWords campaign’s success. The more negative keywords you add to your campaign, the more relevant your search queries will be. In turn, you’ll be spending a lot less money and will have more money to hone in on users who actually need and/or want your product or service.

Cindy Frisch

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