How to Review Keyword Ideas Presented by the Opportunities Tab in AdWords

by Joseph Kerschbaum

Director of Client Services, Clix Marketing

One of my recent columns explained how to use the Opportunities tab within Google AdWords to gauge how you stack up to the competition. The Opportunities tab offers other functions, specifically keyword suggestions provided by Google, which are helpful but a little bit tricky if you haven’t used them extensively.


The Opportunities tab provides keyword and bid alternation suggestions for your AdWords account. These suggestions can be viewed with a few different goals in mind.

You can view suggestions that will help increase the traffic within your account, or help balance cost and traffic, or help maintain or decrease cost. You can view the suggestions geared toward each goal:

Google AdWords Goal Suggestions

Of course, the “Increase traffic” goal will almost always contain the most suggestions. The more keywords you add to your account, the more clicks you’ll accrue, and the more money Google will make. That’s not to say Google is evil or trying to be sly or dishonest here — that’s just how it is.

However, adding relevant keywords to your ad groups will increase quality clicks to your website and should generate more sales. Everyone wins.

The other two goal objectives, “Balance cost and traffic” and “Maintain or decrease cost” usually provide few suggestions for account optimizations — and some of these suggestions aren’t high quality.

To sum up on the goals objectives in the Opportunities tab: you can view this section of your AdWords account as a way to find new keywords, with maybe a few keyword bid suggestions that you can usually disregard.

Keyword Suggestions

This section of the Opportunities tab is most useful as an alternative source of keyword research. Where do these keyword suggestions actually come from? According to Google, their automated tools generate keyword suggestions. Google takes search data and compares it to themes in your existing keyword lists. Google analyzes the search data related to your campaigns, then tries to find new keywords that are relevant to your ads which don’t exist in your account.

Keyword suggestions are provided at the ad group level of your account. As seen here, there are 57 keyword ideas for my Engraved Name Badges ad group; 100 keyword ideas for my ID Card ad group; and 64 keyword ideas in my Belt Clips ad group:

Google AdWords Keyword ideas

As with any suggestion (in general), take these ideas with a grain of salt. Review all of the suggestions carefully. When you click on one of your ad group names, you can review all of the keyword ideas for that ad group.

Assessing Keyword Ideas

As you review your keyword suggestions, you have a few options for gauging how relevant a keyword is for this particular ad group or your entire account. You have three ways to judge a keyword idea:

Google AdWords Keyword settings

  • Keyword is fine: You can check the box next to the keyword, hit Apply Now at the bottom of this screen, and the keyword will be added to this ad group.
  • Keyword is irrelevant to this ad group: The keyword is relevant for your account, and perhaps would fit best in another ad group, but it isn’t a good choice for the ad group that Google has suggested. Selecting this option gives you the chance to load this particular keyword idea into a different ad group.
  • Keyword is irrelevant to my account: If you select this option, the chosen keyword idea won’t be suggested again for this ad group or any other ad group in your account.

For each ad group, you must rate each keyword idea and then hit Apply Now on the bottom of the screen. If you have numerous keyword ideas in various ad groups, this task can be time consuming. However, you can find new relevant keywords for your ad groups, and if you take the time to tell Google which terms aren’t relevant for your account, Google will provide better suggestions in the future.

Also, the Opportunity tab shows you the estimated search volume and level of competition for each keyword, which is helpful. This can help you decide if a keyword is worth adding to your account. Perhaps the competition is too high or the search volume is too low.

If you haven’t looked at the keyword ideas within your Opportunities tab recently (or perhaps ever), check them out. Remember, however, you need to review each keyword suggestion carefully and make good decisions about which keywords will generate additional targeted, relevant traffic to your website.

Bonus Tip!

When you’re reviewing the keyword ideas within an ad group, it’s all or nothing. A note at bottom of the keyword ideas screen reads:

“All unselected ideas will be discarded when you apply or save any ideas above. Before you apply or save any ideas, make sure you’ve selected all the ones you like.”

So, if you open up an ad group to review the keyword suggestions, it’s best to review all of them (good or bad) — otherwise, all unchecked suggestions will be discarded.

This article was originally posted August 18, 2010 on