Adwords ‘Other Search Terms’ Frustration #1

adwords other search terms

The ‘Search Term Report’ within Adwords can be a bit like your misbehaving child. To your face they swear they haven’t done anything wrong, but you know you’re just not getting the full story!

Step up, ‘Other Search Terms’. The sneaky little row sitting right at the bottom of your report, underneath the never-ending marshland of one impression searches.

So just what is the Other Search Terms row, and why is there so much data in it?

Well, according to Google, you only see exact queries for searches made at least 24 hours ago, that received clicks in the last 30 days or were searched for by a significant number of people. Any search terms that did not meet this criteria will be added up in the ‘Other search terms’ row.

The problem is that approximately 20% of searches carried out on Google each day have never been made before. And even if they’re not brand new, unless they meet Google’s criteria above, they won’t be shown in the report.

However, there are great inconsistencies here. Why do Google show some searches with one click and one impression as part of the report, and put others in the Other Search Term row? In a current campaign I manage, the Other Search Terms row consists of 487 clicks, with 20 conversions in last 30 days. These searches would have had at least one click and one impression too. What’s the difference? Why do we see some but not others? And how is Google deciding what to show and what not to show?

Well, when I asked them they gave the vague answer I expected, which is basically a rehash of the quote above. We’ve caught them in the act, they’ve got their story and their sticking to it!

What we do know though is that it costs Google to produce this data, which is the most likely driver for this limitation. Never mind the fact that we spend £millions every year to use their service!

But now we know what we’re dealing with, how do we use this information (or lack there of)?

Well, this is more about avoiding optimisation mistakes. The big one being stifling your conversions. By adding phrase or broad negatives for searches that appear to perform poorly, but are actually converting could impact your volume without you even realising! You’ll never know just how far reaching these negatives go, so the best way to avoid mistakes is to take a calculated approach.

  • Step away from the data and ask yourself just how relevant the search is to what you’re offering. If there’s some doubt, you’re safer adding either exact match negatives or longer-tail phrase negatives.
  • The Change History Tool tracks your keyword additions, but it’s also worth keeping a separate record with dates, especially if you’re making sweeping changes.
  • Lastly, keep a close eye on conversions in the days after. If you notice a drop-off, at least you now know what may have caused the problem and where to investigate.

Now it’s worth remembering that the Search Term Report is one of the best features within Adwords. And the optimisation opportunities it gives you far outweigh it’s limitations. So, like a misbehaving child, you still love it to pieces; you just have to know how to deal with it!