Easy Ways to Save Time Reviewing Search Term Reports

Search Term Reports.  In many ways, they are the backbone to the life and health of a PPC account.  They reveal to you how Google is interpreting your phrase and broad match keywords to see the search terms that triggered your ad.

I am reviewing search terms constantly.  It might be tedious to some, but I enjoy reviewing them.  It’s rewarding to see when keywords are hitting the mark.  It’s helpful to search for new potential keywords.  Sometimes though, I shake my head in disbelief and think, “How in the world did that that wonky search term show up for that keyword?”

Depending on the volume of your account, reviewing the search terms can be cumbersome.  I’m going to break down one way I review search term reports that might make your next review a little easier.

Getting Started

I tend to export my search term reports from Adwords, Bing and/or Yahoo to review the search terms, especially for larger accounts.  I want to be able to sift through all of my data and keep track of it in one place.  I could use the built-in filters in each interface, but then I can’t take note of all of the data nor easily create a list for changes across multiple platforms.

  1.  Once I have the reports downloaded, I’ll put Adwords reports in one tab, Bing in another, etc. in the same document.  This consolidates the number of documents I have to save and keeps everything in one place.  I can move from tab to tab to compare results by platform as well.
  2.  I sort the data the way I want to see it, which typically is by Campaign, then by Ad Group, then by search term.
  3.  It’s filter time.  Not familiar with filters?  Check out this post on filtering in Excel to understand the basics.

Applying the Filters

I’ll start with the conversions column.  Everyone’s favorite, right?

  1. Deselect “0”. Now I can only see terms with conversions only. 
  2. You may want to use a filter on your clicks and/or impressions column to narrow down to reasonably statistically valid data.
  3. From there, I’ll go to the CPA column and click on the filter, scrolling down to see if there is anything greatly above or below my allowable CPA. If there is, I’ll deselect all, then select the amounts I need to look at so I can quickly see the corresponding search terms.  In a notes column, I write out what my action items based on what I’m seeing (exclude due to high CPA, add new keyword, etc.). 

Now, onto finding negatives.  Clear the filters and get ready to hide some data.  I set three filters:

  1. Change the Conversions filter to “0” to make sure I don’t consider excluding converting search terms.
  2. For Adwords reports, I filter out “Added” and “Excluded” terms so I’m only reviewing the “None” search terms (why look at terms I’ve already added or excluded?).
  3. Under Match Type (or Bid match type for Bing), deselect Exact as you don’t need to review these terms as they aren’t going to reveal any potential negatives.

By using these three filters alone, you may have just cleared out hundreds of search terms you don’t need to review, saving you precious time.  Depending on the volume or time period you’re searching, you could also filter out terms with say, 1 impression, to help narrow down the data even more.

As I review the terms, I’ll put the desired negative in a notes column.  Sometimes I have multiple notes columns to indicate if I’d like the term to be excluded in a campaign list, at the campaign level, or at the ad group level.  I then use the filters to remove blanks to quickly see what negatives I need to add and where.

That’s it!  Looking for more?  Here are some additional search term insights.

Comment below with the tips and tricks you use to make sorting through your search terms reports easier.