paid search management the importance of search queries 2

Paid Search Management: The Importance of Search Queries

In the world of paid search management, an important element that is often forgotten is the analysis of Search queries.

Search queries are very important in that they are the basis of any traffic coming from paid search. They provides a trove of information about whether your campaigns are correctly aligned with your objectives, or are attracting the right type of visitors.

In this article, we are going to cover three elements of search queries.

  1. How to find new keywords
  2. How to find negative keywords
  3. Why should you analyze queries with no visits but which generated impressions

Search query analysis should be done on a regular basis depending on the match type used in your campaigns. For instance, if you use broad match, you will want to analyze your search queries weekly to ensure that you get rid of unwanted, unqualified queries. If you are using broad match modifier, you won’t need to review your search queries at such an interval. Finally, if you use phrase match or exact match, you might want to space out your analysis even more.

So, let’s get into the three elements of a right approach to search queries analysis.

How to find new keywords

Oftentimes, when creating new campaigns, you are going to do substantive research in an exhaustive list of keywords to bid on. That being said, you might not always cover the full array of options.

By analyzing your search queries, you will be able to discover new keywords that your visitors are using to find your ads.

It is important to note that the more restrictive your match type, the smaller the pool of new keywords you will find. It is usually good to start with a broad match modifier in order to discover new keywords, instead of using phrase match or exact match. We discourage the use of broad match unless you review your search queries every day or two until you have established a reliable list of negative keywords.

To start the process, go into your AdWords account, select the tab ‘keywords’ and click on ‘search terms’. We recommend that you select a date range of one week to one month in the past based on your interval.

From there, export your list of search queries to an excel spreadsheet. This makes it easier to mark those queries you want to add to your list of keywords or negative keywords.

Once you have your spreadsheet, review your queries one-by-one, and ask yourself this question:

“Does this keyword align with my objectives, services and or products?”

Then mark them as a new keyword or a negative keyword

After running your analysis, you want to dress a list of new keywords and incorporate them into your campaigns, or create new campaigns/ad groups related to their theme.

How to find negative keywords

When running broad match or broad match modifier types, you may often find that many of the queries are not related to your goals and objectives. In this case,  it is recommended that you implement negative keywords in order to save your investment on unqualified visits.

By doing this, you will prevent your ads from being displayed for those queries.

From your export, open your spreadsheet, and review your queries. Mark each one of those that are not qualified. Once done, you can create a list of negative keywords and add them at the campaign or ad group level in your AdWords account. It is very important to be careful when adding negative keywords. If you fail to correctly enter your negative keywords, you might in fact, prevent your ads from showing up for qualified queries.

At Marathon Consulting, we offer audit services for paid search campaigns, and occasionally, we find that the client has been spending a certain percentage of their budget on unqualified clicks. By auditing your account on a regular basis, you can avoid wasting money and ensure the efficiency of your campaigns.

As an example, a client of ours was running their campaigns utilizing a third-party vendor. During our audit, we discovered that 48% of all queries over a six months period had been unqualified, costing the client thousands of dollars in unqualified visits.

Why should you analyze queries with no visits but which generated impressions?

This is a great question because it brings up a good point. Why should you care about those queries that generated impressions but no clicks? After all, you did not spend any budget on it.

The answer is quite simple. It is an opportunity to learn why your ads might not be performing as well as they could be.

When a person uses Google or another search engine to perform a search, ads are shown as part of the results. If your ad is not targeting your audience correctly, you might be losing clicks, thus resulting in a low click-through rate.

By reviewing those queries for which you received impressions but no click, you can determine whether your message is well aligned with your goals.

There are many facets to managing a successful paid search campaign. The above is only a small part of the process, but an important step.


When thinking about analyzing your search queries, you need to take into consideration the match type used for your keywords, the interval at which you are going to run your analysis, the implementation of new/negative keywords, and the performance of your ads (CTR).

Have a great day!

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Richard Antille

Richard Antille is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Marathon Consulting since 2014. He is in charge of developing the service offering, managing clients’ projects and supporting business development. He is a Google AdWords Certified partner and is Bing Ads Accredited. He develops strategies for clients’ projects on a weekly basis and loves putting together strong campaigns driving the bottom-line.

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