How To Use the Search Terms Report

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in How-Tos | 6 Comments
How To Use the Search Terms Report





The search terms report is one of the most powerful sources of data in your PPC campaign. Tragically, it’s also the best hidden. This report tells you exactly what people who saw your ads were searching for.

Knowing which searches triggered your ads makes it easy to optimize your campaign.

Knowing which search queries triggered your ads and how they performed makes it easy for you to optimize your search campaign and save money by adding new keywords and negative keywords. In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to take in order to pull these reports, analyze them and take action on them.

Accessing the Search Terms Report

The search terms report is notoriously hard to find, so let’s first walk through the process of generating the report for both Google & Bing.

Google AdWords

AdWords Search Terms Report

AdWords Search Terms Report

AdWords can generate a report with all search terms that were used by multiple people and received clicks in the past 30 days. All other search terms, along with those from the last day, will be summed up in the “Other search terms” row.

To generate your AdWords search terms report:

  1. Click the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Details button.
  4. Select All from the drop-down.
  5. Click the download button to export the data. 

Bing Ads

Bing Search Query Report

Bing Search Terms Report

Bing can generate a report with all search terms that resulted in at least one click during a one-hour reporting period. Because of this, the number of impressions listed in a Bing search terms report might be just a fraction of the total impressions actually generated during a search query.

To generate your Bing Ads search terms report:

  1. Click the Reports tab.
  2. Select Search Terms under Performance from the Report type drop-down.
  3. Include “Delivered match type,” “Keyword” & “Search query” from Choose your columns.

Access Google & Bing from AdStage

AdStage Search Query Report

AdStage Report Center

With AdStage PPC software, you can generate reports for both Google AdWords & Bing Ads from a single place.

To generate your Google AdWords & Bing Ads search terms reports within AdStage:

  1. Click Reports in the sidebar.
  2. Scroll to your desired network.
  3. Select Search Query Report from the Report Type drop-down.

Try AdStage free


Find New Keyword Opportunities

The search terms report is full of new keyword opportunities, especially if your campaign is full of broad and phrase matched keywords. You’ll want to look through the report for queries that performed well and aren’t yet in your campaign as exact match keywords.

To find keyword opportunities in your report:

  1. Filter the report so only broad and phrase match keywords are being shown. This way you can skip the exact match keywords that are already in your campaign.
  2. Sort by highest clicks or highest conversions to see which queries are performing best.
  3. Starting from the top, review the search queries in each row. Look at their CTR and conversion rates and compare them to other rows to gauge the quality of the keyword.
  4. Note which keywords are performing well and add them as exact match keywords. This way you can ensure your ads display for these queries in the future.

For other ways to discover keyword opportunities, read our Guide to the Google Keyword Planner.

Find Negative Keyword Opportunities

The search terms report can also reveal negative keyword opportunities, especially if your campaign is full of broad and phrase matched keywords. You’ll want to look through the report for irrelevant queries that you want to avoid advertising on in the future.

Find Negatives to Boost CTR & Quality Score:

  1. Filter the report so only broad and phrase match keywords are being shown. This way you can skip the exact match keywords that are already in your campaign.
  2. Sort by highest impressions to see the most popular queries your ads show up for.
  3. Starting from the top, review the search queries in each row. Look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate and compare them to other rows to gauge the quality of the keyword.
  4. If the queries are irrelevant and aren’t resulting in conversions, you can add them as negative keywords. When you add negative keywords using this data, you’ll directly improve your CTR and Quality Score.

Find Negatives To Save Money & Lower CPA:

  1. Filter the report so only broad and phrase match keywords are being shown. This way you can skip the exact match keywords that are already in your campaign.
  2. Sort by highest spend to see which keywords are costing you the most money.
  3. Starting from the top, review the search queries in each row. Look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate and compare them to other rows to gauge the quality of the keyword.
  4. If the queries are irrelevant and aren’t resulting in conversions, you can add them as negative keywords. When you add negative keywords using this data, you’ll save money and directly improve your cost per conversion.

For help with negative keywords, read our Guide to Negative Keywords.

Sam Mazaheri

Sam is the Director of Marketing & Product at AdStage. Previously, he was part of the AdWords product team at Google, serving as the in-house AdWords expert and advisor to product management, engineering, and UX. Prior to that, he personally managed and grew in-house digital marketing programs with over $300,000 in monthly ad spend.


Follow Sam Mazaheri on Quora


  • Pingback: The Comprehensive Guide to Auditing Your Google AdWords Account

  • Pingback: The Comprehensive Guide to Auditing Your Bing Ads Account

  • markbuehner

    Bing has gotten really bad with their broad searches in the last year, theyll throw any junk in there and it gets real expensive. You can add as many negative terms as you like, they’ll just find new terms to include. Not cool.

  • Hugh Plautz

    Great article of an often overlooked report!

  • nabeel

    Hi Everyone

    I see a keyword (I bid on) generated 4000 impressions past few days but when I pull the Keyword Detail report for that ‘selected’ keyword, the sum of impressions on all search terms is not more than 2000.
    Where did my impressions go?

    Can someone help me on this.

    Nabeel

    • http://blog.adstage.io Sam Mazaheri

      Hi Nabeel,

      You’ll only see search terms that were used by people at least 24 hours ago and have either received clicks in the past 30 days or were searched for by a “significant number of people.” The search terms that don’t meet this criteria are summed up in the ‘Other search terms’ row.

      Hope that helps!