Getting the most out of a Search Query Reports

When doing a Search Query Report there are two main points you want to address – what you want to add and what you want to block, but how do you know what to look for?


Firstly, while finding new keywords to add to your account you want to keep in mind how they will perform moving forwards. To do so you need to be sure that the data you are looking at is up to date and relevant, using data from the last 7-14 days is a good way of ensuring this. It is also worth mentioning that SQRs should be done every 7-14 days, this will allow enough data to generate to make the analysis possible.

Being aware of the accounts KPIs – whether that is driving traffic or generating conversions, is key. If it is to generate as many clicks as possible then the metrics you will be paying attention to will be Clicks, CTR and CPC, whereas if the account is focused on generating conversions then Conversions, Cost Per Action and Conversion Rate will be just as (if not more) important when looking at potential new keywords.

It is best to add new keywords to the account from and SQR as Exact Match, this gives you the greatest control possible over spend. Exact match keywords also help to ensure that the Clicks generated through the keywords are likely to lead to a conversion as the search term is highly relevant to the user searching for it.


Once the keywords are in the account it is important to track their performance. It is possible that they will not performance as well as you’d hoped, not to worry however as you can always remove them.

The best way to track data in AdWords is to Label everything, every Keyword, Ad and Campaign should have a Label. Using Labels to mark when a keyword is added to the account is an easy way to compare its performance against the account average or other keywords as you can filter for them in AdWords or in Excel. 


Give it a week or two for enough data to accumulate and then go back and analyse the performance – is the CPC higher than the account average? Have they converted? At what CPA and Conv Rate? Check their performance against the account average for the same time period as a benchmark and if a keyword doesn’t make the cut – make sure to add it as a negative.

Negatives are an important part of account optimisation in general, having a Brand Safety List is just common sense, but during an SQR you may want come across a search term you want to put on a negative list. There are two types (and a secret third) of negatives you should be aware of – poor performing search terms which are wasting your spend, inappropriate/irrelevant search terms generating lots of Impressions but no Clicks and Cross Match Negatives.

The first two are obvious, if you come across a Search Term with 100 Impressions and no Clicks after 14 days, it’s safe to assume that it can be put on negative. Similarly, if you spot a search term which you absolutely do not want your ads to be appearing for (porn, violence or hate speech) then you can block these as well.

So, what is a Cross Match Negative?

In a well-structured account you should aim to have only one Match Type per Campaign or Ad Group, this is so you can convert as many search terms into Exact Match Keywords as possible while still appearing on new and unique search terms.

Once you spot a search term which is performing well, and it has been triggering off a Broad or Phrase keyword and you add it as an Exact, you want to make sure that in the future it only triggers off that Exact keyword just like you want. To do this you add the newly added keyword to the account as a negative in the Broad or Phrase Campaign/Ad Group in which the search term triggered from. Remember, this will not stop your ads appearing on that valuable search term if the Exact keyword is in a different Campaign/Ad Group to the Broad or Phrase keyword. This will ensure that the traffic is directed through the much more cost efficient Exact Match keyword.

  • Get In Touch

    Chris Simmance, Marketing Consultant and International Keynote Speaker

Here's What They're Saying

Just a snapshot of some great feedback Chris has received recently.

When we were looking for a consultant to support us and our business, particularly in an area that changes so rapidly like digital marketing, we decided whoever we worked with needed to bring two characteristics beyond anything else... Time and Truth! Time to understand our business, our teams and our customers. And truth, in the way that any proposed solutions would stand up as practical, actionable and tailored to our objectives. Chris brought these characteristics by the bucket load. Clearly demonstrating he has his fingers on the pulse, he suggested modern and effective tools and techniques designed to help us drive our commercial outcomes. Read More...

Oliver Bell - Membership Director, CIMSPA

Chris has proved invaluable when taking a project from idea to successful operation. His deep understanding of the digital sector, coupled with a high level of real-world business knowledge, has been perfect to help build achievable interim targets during the businesses development while retaining a clear picture of the end goal. If you are looking for a consultant who will feel like a real partner in your journey, and always act with the businesses best interests at heart, then Chris is your best bet.

Matt Barnwell - Managing Director, IH Solutions

More knowledge of how the internet works in his little finger than Brin, Page and Zuckerberg combined. See him now. Or don't, and see sales suffer.

Janusz Stabik - GYDA