The 3 Things You Should Be Gleaning from Your Search Terms Report (In Addition to Negative Keywords)

This is a guest post by Amy Bishop, Director of Digital Marketing & MarTech at ZirMed.

The search terms report provides a wealth of information – no doubt. The most common use of the search term report is to seek out irrelevant keywords to add as negatives. That’s absolutely a best practice in PPC and should be executed regularly.

In this post, we’ll explore three more insights that you can learn from the search terms report.

How the Search Engines Perceive Your Terms

The search term report is also a great place to obtain insight into the way that the search engine perceives your account and the keywords within it. The reason that it matters how your account is viewed is because part of your quality score is dependent upon relevance. If the search engines have misinterpreted the products or services that you are trying to acquire, then how can they correctly determine the relevance of your ads and landing pages?

Secondly, since search engines are matching close variants to your terms, if the search engines incorrectly perceive your terms, they will begin matching your keywords to irrelevant terms. The search engines are pretty good at matching terms at this point, but if you have vague themes in your account, it can be difficult for them to tightly match themes.

For example, if your search term is broad match (non-modified) ‘vacation planning’, you could begin to show up for a wide variety of terms that are relevant to hotels, flights, rental cars, travel insurance and so on. If you don’t do all of those things, you’ll want to be sure to add a lot of negatives and keep a really close eye on any keywords that may be vague.

I recommend separating vague terms so that they can be more tightly controlled with budgets, etc.

New Keywords & Growth Potential

In addition to negative terms, the search terms report can be a great place to identify new ways to expand the account.

In fact, unless the account is very mature and the business does not have growth goals, a search term report with no new keyword opportunities can be a detriment. If that’s the case, there may be growth opportunities by loosening match types within the account (e.g., adding modified broad match in addition to phrase and exact) or by testing some new terms in the account. Granted, this will also require more maintenance from a negative keyword perspective, but can lead to healthy growth and lessen reliance on more aggressive bidding for continual growth.

If there are search terms appearing in the report that aren’t yet keywords, then there’s already potential for growth simply by adding terms with high search volume to the account in order to control bids and settings.

Search Term Mapping

Search term mapping is the practice of analyzing which keywords and ad groups your search terms are being matched to. There are a lot of reasons that this matters. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it.

The key points are that you want to be careful to ensure that the same search term isn’t matching to multiple different ad groups throughout the account. In which case, the impact (positive or negative) of that search term may be affecting the performance of multiple keywords and ad groups. If that’s the case, pausing a certain keyword or adjusting an ad won’t have the desired impact because the performance will only transfer to another term. If the search term performs negatively and doesn’t exactly match the keyword, you may just choose to negate the term altogether but if it exactly matches a keyword – it’s better to add the term as a negative in other ad groups that it is matching to and then pausing the keyword if it doesn’t perform well.

What takeaways do you gather from your search query reports? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author:

Amy has built and implemented multichannel digital strategies for a variety of companies spanning several industry verticals from start-ups and small businesses to Fortune 500 and global organizations. Her expertise includes e-commerce, lead generation, and localized site-to-store strategies. Amy is currently the Director of Digital Marketing & MarTech at ZirMed.