Heads up, I’m going to start this blog post off with a scare tactic that involves an AdWords horror story. Hang in there. By the end you’ll know how to avoid wasting your ad dollars with a few simple steps.

A year or so ago we took on a dealership that had been running their AdWords account through a different marketing agency (that agency will not be named here). After gaining access to their existing account, we began doing some clean up. We conducted a search term report that shows you what users were actually searching for when your ad was triggered.  The dealership sold Jeeps and they were targeting Jeep-related keywords. However, their search term report revealed they consistently showed ads for the term “Barbie Jeep.”  Users were clicking on their Jeep ads, but the dealership obviously does not sell Barbie Jeeps.  All in all, the dealership wasted hundreds of advertising dollars a month for a product that they don’t sell, not to mention bounce rates were through the roof.  So how do you avoid this advertising nightmare? Read on!

Search Term Reports

In case you skipped the intro, search term reports (or STRs) show you what users were actually searching for when your ad was triggered.  They give you insight into how your customers search. I love STRs because they can even generate ideas for new keywords you may have missed and also allow you to exclude irrelevant keywords. They keep your account focused and ensure your ad dollars are going to the most qualified people. Conducting STRs can be really fun by the way. You would be surprised what other people actually search for in Google. Keep an eye out, I may start journaling weird things we find as a follow up blog post.

Instructions for Search Term Reports:

  • To conduct a search term report, go to the Keywords tab and select Details> Search Terms> All. The search terms people were using when your ad was triggered will appear in the first column. Go to Columns> Customize Columns> Attributes. Choose “Add” next to the Keyword option and select “Apply.” In the far right corner you can now see which keyword you have programmed that triggered your ad to show for a search.  *Tip: Sort your STR by number of impressions, clicks, or spend to see which search terms are getting the most traffic (Select Clicks, Impressions, or Cost).
  • To add or exclude a keyword, select the keyword check box and choose either “Add as keyword” or “Add as negative keyword.” If you are adding a negative keyword, you have the option to add it at the ad group or campaign level, or you can add it to an existing negative keyword list.  Don’t forget to save your settings.  We recommend conducting a search term report at least once a month. If there is not enough data to support an STR, try expanding your date range in the upper right corner.

Adding a Negative Keyword List

Adding a negative keyword list to your account is a simple way to keep your account focused from the start. We recommend you continually build your list based on what you find in your STRs.

A negative keyword is essentially a keyword that you do not want to trigger your ad.  Whenever a user searches for a term that contains a keyword you chose to negative, your ad is blocked from serving, even if the query contains regular keywords you have included in your ad groups. You can also create different lists that can be applied to the ad group or campaign level of your account.

How to add a negative keyword list:

  • To add a negative keyword list, go to Shared Library> Campaign Negative Keywords. Select “+ List.” Name the list.  Add your negative keywords as broad match only and select the “Enter” key between each negative keyword.  Once you have completed your list, choose “Save.” To quickly apply your list to different campaigns, select the list from the Shared Library, scroll to the bottom of the page, and choose “Apply to Campaigns.” You can then arrow over any existing campaigns in your account.
  • You can also add negative keywords within a single campaign or ad group by clicking into the campaign/ad group level and selecting the “Keywords” tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find “Negative Keywords.” From there, select “Add” from either the “Ad Group Level” or the “Campaign Level” and key in the negative keywords as described above. Choose “Save” to apply your changes.

Kind of Epilogue

All of our dealer clients can sleep soundly knowing that the term “Barbie” is a negative keyword across all their campaigns. Please let us know if you start selling Barbie Jeeps and we can adjust.

Meet Buffy Bailey

Buffy is a Paid Search Engine Specialist at Launch Digital Marketing. She recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Advertising and a minor in Communication. Buffy enjoys Mexican food, The Bachelorette, and traveling to different countries.