Improve your keywords for the Search Network

It's time to identify poor-performing keywords and make them work harder for you. You'll want to improve the relevance of your keywords to help boost their Quality Scores, or modify the match type for ones that aren't helping you meet your advertising goals, or delete duplicate keywords in your account. You can also filter your performance data to find low-performing keywords.

Once you know how to find data for your keywords, you're ready to work on improving them.

Improve your keywords' relevance

You'll want to make sure that your keywords are relevant to your product or service. That way, customers are more likely to click your ad as they search for specific terms, which can help improve your clickthrough rate (CTR) and Quality Score. Think about it: if you run a floor waxing business, you probably don't want your ad showing to people searching for hair waxing salons. Here are some ways you can improve your keywords' relevance:

  • Try replacing a single-word keyword with terms or phrases (keywords of two to three words tend to work most effectively) that potential customers are likely to use to describe your product or service. In some cases, this means you'll want to make keywords that are too general more specific.
    Broad keyword Specific keyword
    waxing wood floor waxing
    floors floor waxing services
    cleaning floor cleaning services
  • Make sure your keywords are relevant to the ads in your ad groups. Let's say the ads in your ad group are about the services you specifically provide for pine wood floor waxing. You might want the keywords in that ad group to include the term pine wood. You can try using keyword insertion to dynamically update your ad text to include one of your keywords that matches a customer's search terms.
  • Group your keywords by themes based on your product or service and make sure your ads are about your keyword themes. That way, we can show more relevant ads to potential customers when they're searching for a specific product or service. You can also look at how your company's website layout to get an idea of how to group your keywords.

Modify your keyword match type

Once you've segmented your keyword performance data by search terms match type, you can identify which match types are working well for which keywords and searches, you can refine match types for all your keywords to better hone in on the right customers.

Let's say your keyword list includes the broad match keyword floor cleaning. When you apply the search terms match type segment, you'll see performance data for search terms that are the broad-, phrase-, and exact-matched versions of your keyword. For example, a phrase-matched search term might be floor cleaning services. If you see that floor cleaning has the highest clickthrough rate (CTR) from people searching on the phrase-matched version of your keyword, floor cleaning services, you could add floor cleaning as a phrase match keyword and pause it as a broad match keyword.

Keyword match type segment

Tip

After you've segmented your keyword data by search terms match type, try running a search terms report to see the terms people were searching for when they clicked your ad.

Find duplicate keywords

It's best to avoid having duplicate keywords in your account. We'll show only one ad per advertiser for a particular keyword, so there's no need to include the same keywords in different ad groups or campaigns.

Make sure you use a keyword only once throughout your whole account, including variations of your broad match keywords (as well as your phrase and exact match keywords if you haven't chosen to narrow your phrase and exact match targeting). For example, the broad match keywords red car and car red are duplicates and will compete against each other. Since the better performing keyword will trigger your ad more often, you'll want to delete the duplicate that performs worse.

Here's how to find and delete duplicate keywords:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click "All online campaigns" in the left navigation bar.
  3. Click the Keywords tab to see all of the keywords in your account
  4. Click the "Keyword" column name to sort your keywords alphabetically. You can also click the "Match type" column name to sort your keywords by match type. Then, review your keywords to see if any of them are duplicates.
  5. If you have a duplicate keyword, you'll want to delete the one that perform worse. To do so, select the checkbox next to the keyword, click the Edit drop-down menu and select "Delete."

Example

Let's say you sort your keywords by match type and see that your account contains the broad match keywords red car and car red. Then, you review the clickthrough rate (CTR) for each of these keywords and see that red car has a higher CTR. Since your advertising goal is to get clicks on your ads, you decide to delete car red because it has a lower CTR.

Tip

You can also use AdWords Editor, a free downloadable application for managing your account, to find duplicate keywords in your account.

Using filters to improve your keywords

Filters are a quick way to sort your keyword performance data and identify low-performing keywords. You can filter your keyword data by Status to see which keywords have low search volume, or maybe those that aren't showing your ads because they've been disapproved. Then, you can change your keyword with low search volume to a more general variation to help increase your traffic. Or, follow our advertising policies to fix any disapproved keywords. Here are some other filters you can use to see poor-performing keywords:

  • Try using the Quality Score filter to see which keywords have a low Quality Score. For example, you can choose to see keywords with a Quality Score less than 3. Then, you can make changes to your keywords, such as making them more relevant to your ads or landing page, to help improve their Quality Scores.
  • Filter your keywords by clickthrough rate (CTR) to see which keywords get you a lot of impressions, but few clicks. For example, you can filter keywords with a clickthrough rate that's less than 1%, and then make changes to those keywords so they're more relevant to your ads.
  • Filter your keywords to see which ones are below your first page bid estimate. Then, you can increase the cost-per-click (CPC) bids for keywords that aren't showing ads on the first page of Google search results based on your first page bid estimate. Try using automated rules to automatically raise your keyword bids when they are below your first page bid estimate.