Understanding the Search terms report

Use the Search terms report to see how your ads performed when triggered by actual searches within the Search Network. Identify new search terms with high potential, and add them to your keyword list. Look for search terms that aren't as relevant to your business, and add them as negative keywords. This can help you avoid spending money showing your ad to people who aren't interested in it.

What's the difference between a search term and a keyword? A search term is the exact word or set of words that a customer enters when searching on Google.co.uk or one of our Search Network sites. A keyword is the word or set of words that AdWords advertisers create for a given ad group to target your ads to customers.

Example

David is looking to buy a Valentine’s Day bouquet online. He types “red roses” into the search box on Google.co.uk. “Red roses” is the search term. Let's say that you're the owner of an online flower business. Because you have included the word “roses” as a keyword in your AdWords campaign, your ad may be eligible to show on David’s search results page.

View your search terms data

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click the Keywords tab.
  4. Click the "Details" button above your statistics table. See search terms
    • Select "All" from the drop-down menu to analyse the search terms for all your listed keywords.
    • To only see search terms for specific keywords, first select the checkboxes for the keywords that you're interested in, then choose "Selected" from the menu.
    • See search terms
  5. Now you'll see data on the search terms that triggered impressions and clicks. To download the data in a report, click the download button Download icon. Search term data

Keep in mind that 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. Any search terms that did not meet this criteria will be added up in the 'Other search terms' row.

Understanding your search terms data

Understanding the "Keyword" column

The "Keyword" column tells you which one of your keywords matched someone’s search term and triggered your ad. This information can help you see your keywords “in action” by showing you how they are matching to actual searches.

You can use the data in the "Keyword" column to improve your keyword list. For example, let’s say that you sell tulips. When you look at your Search terms report, you see that your broad match keyword flowers triggers your ad to show when people search for red roses and purple orchids – flowers that you don’t sell. So, you decide to refine your keyword list to focus on terms and phrases that are more specific to the products that you do offer: tulips.

To enable the "Keyword" column, click the Columns drop-down menu and choose "Customise columns." Next, click the Add link next to "Keyword" and click Apply.

Understanding the "Match type" column

The "Match type" column in your search terms report tells you how closely the search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to the actual keywords in your account.By seeing which match types are working well for which keywords and searches, you can refine match types for all your keywords, and therefore hone in better on the right customers.

How is search term match type determined?

To help you understand how the search term match type is determined, we'll use the following example:

Ad group Keyword
Ad group A Exact match keyword [purple flowers]
Ad group B Phrase match keyword "purple flowers"
Ad group C Broad match keyword purple flowers

Keeping these ad groups and keywords in mind, we'll use the following table to show you how different search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to your keywords. Note that when the search term match type is a close variation, this includes misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations or accents.

It's important to bear in mind that a search term match type listed in your report might not be the same as the match type that you’ve selected for the keyword that triggered the ads. This is because keywords with broader match types can still match search terms in narrower ways. For example, if someone searched for purple flowers, and your broad match keyword purple flowers triggered your ad, the search terms match type would be an exact match, even though in your ad group, purple flowers is a broad match.

Your keyword Customer's search term Search term match type Reason for search term match type
[purple flowers] purple flowers Exact match The search term exactly matches your exact match keyword from ad group A.
[purple flowers] purple flowrs Exact match (close variant) The search term is a close variant (misspelling) of your exact match keyword from ad group A.
"purple flowers" purple flowers Exact match The search term exactly matches your phrase match keyword from ad group B.
"purple flowers" free purple flowers Phrase match The search term contains your phrase match keyword from ad group B.
"purple flowers" free purple flowrs Phrase match (close variant) The search term is a close variant (misspelling) of your phrase match keyword from ad group B.
purple flowers purple flowers Exact match The search term exactly matches your broad match keyword from ad group C.
purple flowers free purple flowers Phrase match The search term contains your broad match keyword from ad group C.
purple flowers pink flowers Broad match The search term is a variation of your broad match keyword from ad group C.
purple flowers send flowers Broad match (session-based) This match type indicates that other search terms from the user's search session were considered when the system showed your ad for this search term. Because the user searched for "purple flowers" earlier during their search session, the search term is considered a variation of your Broad match keyword from ad group C.

Keep in mind that if you've chosen not to show your ads for close variants of your exact match and phrase match keywords, you might still see the "Exact match (close variant)" and "Phrase match (close variant)" search term match types for searches that were triggered by your broad match keywords.

For example, if your keyword list includes the broad match keyword tennis shoe and someone searches for tennis shoes, we'll identify that search term as an "Exact match (close variant)", since tennis shoes is a close variant – plural – of tennis shoe.

Manage your keywords based on search terms data

Use your search terms data to make changes to your keywords that can have a positive impact on your performance. Here are some ideas:

  • Add high-performing search terms to your ad group as keywords. Consider adjusting your bids as well, since search terms appearing in the search terms report are already receiving traffic. Therefore, adding those terms as keywords shouldn't do much unless paired with changes to bids, ad text or both.
  • If a search term isn't relevant enough to the products or services that you offer, add it as a negative keyword instead. This will help keep your ad from showing to people who are looking for something that you don’t sell. For example, if you sell eyeglasses, and you see that the search term “wine glasses” is triggering your ads, you might want to add “wine” as a negative keyword.
  • Select the correct match type (e.g. broad, phrase, exact or negative) for existing keywords. The "Match type" column (see above) can help you understand how keyword match type is affecting your ad performance.

Tip

You can also use the Dimensions tab to see the list of search terms that triggered your ad for your entire account, or specific campaigns or ad groups. Just click Dimensions, then click View and select "Search terms" from the drop-down menu. Note that while the same information for individual keywords is available when viewing the Search terms report this way, you can’t add keywords or negative keywords directly from the report in the same way you can when viewing the report from the Keyword tab.

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