Save Money & Time With These Two Tips For Search Term Report Audits

If you’re running keyword-targeted search campaigns in Google Ads then you should be very familiar with the search terms report.

It’s the report where Google shows you EXACTLY what people searched before clicking on your ads. To find it in any campaign or ad group, just click on Keywords in the left column and “Search Terms” in the upper tabs.

Here’s a visual:

This produces a report that that is chock full of good information. So chock full that it can really be overwhelming. So here are three tips for making sense of the report.

Tip 1: Filter by Added/Excluded

If you click on the Add Filter button you’ll get the following drop-down box:

Select Added/Excluded and you’re presented with these choices:

These seen innocuous but can help you save a lot of time. Here’s what each delivers:

  • Added – These are search terms that match with a keyword already in your account. When filtering for these search terms you’re focused on performance metrics, not relevance. You should be able to move very quickly through these.
  • Excluded – These are search terms you’ve already excluded. Helpful for evaluating waste. Every term marked this way should be in your negative keywords as well.
  • Added/Excluded – These terms are both keywords and have been excluded. Basically, they’re conflicts so you should resolve them by getting rid of a keyword or a negative keyword.
  • None – This is where you should focus your attention. These search terms aren’t already keywords in your account and you haven’t excluded them either. It will include new terms that Google matched you to (since exact match is not exact anymore). This is where you are looking heavily at the relevance of queries. I would suggest that this is area is where the bulk of your search term cleanup should focus. It’s also a great place to look for new keywords that would benefit from having their own ad group and the customized ad copy that goes with it.

Tip 2: Filter by Match Type

You’ll notice from the drop-down above that we also have an option for Match Type. That also can be misleading because this report features some match types you may not be familiar with:

Notice the options for “Exact match (close variant)” and “Phrase match (close variant)”. By selecting these options we’ll get to see which queries were matched to our phrase or exact match keywords, but didn’t match them exactly. Basically, we can see how un-exact Google is with our exact match.

This list inevitably includes a good amount of misspellings, but it also is the perfect place to find the biggest weeds in your accounts. By condensing them this way you can often start to see multiple queries that include a common phrase.

For example, you may begin to see a competitor name cropping up. In the Higher Ed industry, you start to see somewhat longer queries that bear striking resemblance to homework problems. This is all easy pickings for negative keywords to save you money.


By filtering your search term reports you can more quickly group similar queries, which makes your analysis more time-effective. And by finding those pesky weeds (low relevance queries) you can save yourself some serious budget in the future.

Have a tip to share on how to mine search query reports? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.