Mining Your Search Query Report (SQR)

One of the major benefits of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is the incredible granularity of data. Nowhere is this more visible than the search query report. As you probably know, this report is accessed by clicking the “Keyword details” drop-down while in the keyword tab and then selecting “All” (or Selected if you have marked a few terms). Here is what that menu looks like:
Google SQR Interface
If you’re looking for the same information in your BingAds account, you’ll need to click on the Reports tab in the main interface and then select the “Search query” report type (as shown below). You’ll note that you can set the date range, choose columns & even schedule the report to run on a regular basis.
Bing SQR Report
When you look at your SQR you’re going to see EXACTLY what the user typed. None of this (not set) garbage that analytics people have to deal with. But what do you do with this list?

Keyword Expansion

This is the most direct, accurate keyword research you’ll ever do. These queries represent the exact way people searched. You have the exact amount you paid, the avg. position you received with your current bids, and most importantly, which ones led to conversions. There are a couple ways I like to sort my SQR when doing this:

    • Sort by conversions (highest to lowest) – This can done in there interface or in an Excel spreadsheet, but sorting by conversions shows you first and foremost, which queries are driving the most conversions. In the image below you’ll notice that our top-converting search term has a green “Added” box next to it. This shows that we have the search term, in the same match type, as a current keyword. This appears in the rightmost column. Looking at our second and third search terms it would appear that some keyword expansion around “cheap” or “machine” related terms would produce a very attractive cost/conversion.


  • Sort by cost/conversion (highest to lowest) – For advertisers who have a benchmark CPA they’re managing toward, this will quickly show you which queries aren’t meeting the goal and then show you terms that are just killing it, therefore justifying some additional love.

Negative Keywords

This is the easiest way to save yourself some money because it allows you to get inside the heads of people searching. You’ll learn more about your keywords here than any research tool out there. Here’s how to get the best bang for your buck, fast:

  • Sort by cost (highest to lowest) – Now look in the conversions column to find keywords with 0 conversions. Here is a prioritized list of keywords that are costing you, but not pulling their weight. Easy money.
  • Put Excel to work – From our example above, say you want to see how much you spent on all terms with “machine” in them? Here is the formula you would need to write in column R (or any available column) =IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“machine”,D3)),J3,0) This would output the cost if the search query contains “machine”. You then sum that column to find the total cost.

The search query report is a gold mine for keyword expansion as well as negative keywords. Both provide you an excellent way to focus your budget on high-value terms while cutting out poorly qualified traffic.