What Do Search Query Reports Really Tell Us?

Chuck Forbes - May 22, 2018

Paid search campaigns will undergo many optimizations over time, depending on the length and budget of a campaign, those optimizations could be slight or major to achieve the goal. Search Query Reports are frequently used to make optimizations, but is the power of these reports underrated? Although they are no secret to advertisers, let’s break down some ways a Search Query Report  in Google or Bing can be used to connect the dots for your Paid Search campaigns. Perhaps these ideas will change the frequency in which you review these reports with your marketing team.

Search Query Reports will give you insight into how your keywords are performing against users’ search terms. Your keywords hold your bids that determine if you show up for a search term, so comparing the two categories is crucial for Paid Search success. A common misconnection in search strategies is thinking that the keywords your client gives you to bid on are the best choices to use. While they shouldn’t be far off, comparing those keywords to search terms is the next step. I know it sounds basic, but the concept of Paid Search being driven by user behavior gets lost because you’re actually bidding on keywords in hopes that your budget and targeting matches with the search terms of users you’re trying to interact with. You can change your keyword list, add negatives and alter match modifiers but ultimately the search terms from the users will always decide the direction of your keyword list.

When reviewing a Search Query Report and deciding what keywords to add or negate to your list – split them into two categories: new, high potential keywords and close, irrelevant keywords. The first category will be keywords you add to your list and review performance over the next few months. The close, irrelevant keywords will be added as negative keywords to your campaign. The more challenging part is reviewing your Search Query Report to stay alerted of recent news or trends. News stories, popular trends and user intent can all play a role into your paid search strategy.

For example, I own a company called “Old Fashion Cupcakes,” so you have an idea of what my branded keyword list would look like. But what happens if a lot of people are searching “old fashion cupcake recipes”? My ads could show, but the user really wants to see recipes not order my cupcakes right now. While the impression and future conversion opportunity is there, the investment for that impression based on true user intent can be questionable. How about the recent news story of the oldest fashion show in town that featured cupcake inspired outfits? Yes, that sounds crazy – but it happens. Users search because they are curious or to get more information on something they heard of – staying on top of what search terms are driving your keyword selection and why will help your campaign’s success. Also, remember bid adjustments and ad copy should be evaluated when updating your keyword list.

You do not have to check your Search Query Reports every day, however a monthly check-in is always a good idea. Use your best judgement on when to review them in-between your monthly check-ins if perhaps you think a demographic has suddenly triggered irrelevant searches showing your advertisements.

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