Tips For Search Query Analysis And Negative Keywords


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One of my favorite necessary PPC tasks is checking out the search query reports in AdWords and Bing. It’s a great way to get an inside look at consumer behavior and still do something that’s really useful and necessary for your accounts – adding negative keywords & finding ideas for new keywords.

While it’s a necessary task, it can still eat up a good chunk of your precious time, especially if not performed on a regular basis. Here’s some reminders of how to make the most of your time when you’re checking out search query reports:

  • I like to sort my report by Clicks, Cost, or Conversions to see which terms have been having the most impact when I’m just doing a “well account check” and don’t have something specific in mind that I’m hunting for.
  • If you continuously see an irrelevant query or word over and over that needs to be a negative keyword:
    • In Excel, highlight all instances of the word by using the Conditional Formatting tool. This will save some time.
    • Check out this post on using pivot tables to better visualize search query mismatches.
  • A Golden Rule of adding negative keywords: Don’t be too specific! Make sure to drill down the search term when adding it as a negative. Adding the entire phrase “portable snow cone stand for sale in Orlando, Florida” will probably not do any good, since that’s probably not a commonly searched term. However, if you don’t want your ads to appear for anything snow cone-related, add the term “snow cone”.
  • Consider adding the phrase match type of the negative keywords that you’re adding so that you’re not excluding relevant traffic yet saving yourself some dollars. (This can potentially happen when you add broad match negatives)
  • If you’re targeting specific states with specific campaigns, it’s a good idea to add the other states and abbreviations as negatives just to make sure you’re staying on the straight line with locations. However, make sure you don’t exclude the abbreviations of states like Indiana and Oklahoma since their abbreviations are actually words.
  • Decide if your negative keywords should be added at the ad group level or the campaign level.
    For example, if you have 2 ad groups, one for dog products and one for cat products, I would add the opposing animal as an ad group-level negative keyword. You could then turn around and add other animals, like lizards and horses, as campaign level negatives since those are not related to either dogs or cats. For more information on campaign-level, ad group-level & negative keyword lists, check out this post.
  • Make sure to utilize the “Make Multiple Changes” buttons in Bing Ads Editor & Google AdWords Editor. This will allow you to easily copy & paste negative keywords that apply to multiple ad groups or campaigns in your accout.
  • If you’re looking for more on negative keywords, check out this post on choosing negative keywords for your accounts.

What’s your favorite tip or trick for adding negatives or reviewing search query reports? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.