About the search terms report

Use the search terms report to know how your ads performed when triggered by actual searches within the Search Network. This article describes the search terms report and how to use it.

For instructions on how to view and understand the search terms report, refer to View your search terms report.

Differences between search terms and consumer interest insights

Consumer interest insights analyze the search terms where your ads have appeared in the past 56 days, grouping them into themes and subthemes to provide you with key performance metrics for each. We recommend using this feature where available to easily understand what your customers are interested in, and to capture more untapped demand.

That said, you may notice some differences between the data shown on the consumer interest insights compared to the search terms report.

  • Conversions: The way the conversions are processed differs between the consumer interest insights and the search terms report. You may notice slight differences between the 2 surfaces due to conversion lag.
  • Search subthemes and queries: Some search terms that don’t have enough query activity are omitted from the search terms report in order to keep with our standards on data privacy. Consumer interest insights account for these low volume queries by grouping them into their relevant subthemes where applicable, or aggregating them as “other queries”, without exposing the queries themselves.

Benefits

The search terms report provides insight into the searches that trigger your ads and how those searches are performing. This report also helps you discover new ideas for creative and landing page content to align with what your customers are looking for.

What's the difference between a search term and a keyword? A search term is a word or set of words a person enters when searching on Google or one of our Search Network sites. A keyword is a word or set of words that Google Ads advertisers can add to a given ad group so that your ads are targeting the right audience.

Example

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

View your search terms report

To view your search terms report, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click All Campaigns in the navigation pane on the left, then click Keywords in the page menu.
  3. Click Search terms from the list under the “Keywords” menu.
  4. You'll notice data on which search terms a significant number of people have used and triggered impressions and clicks.
  5. You can alter your search terms report and modify which columns show by clicking the column icon A picture of the Google Ads columns icon. This will allow you to add, remove, or reorder the columns in your report.
  6. To download the data in a report, click the 3-dot icon and select Download.

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 check your keywords “in action” by showing you how they’re matching to actual searches.

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

The "Keyword" column doesn't show by default. In the new Google Ads experience, to turn on the “Keyword” column, click the column icon A picture of the Google Ads columns icon, then click "Attributes". Tick the box beside “Keyword”, then 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 checking 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.

Tip: Modify your report

You can modify your report to view the list of search terms that triggered your ad for your entire account, or specific campaigns or ad groups. In the previous AdWords experience, this feature could be accessed by clicking the "Dimensions" tab, then clicking "View", and selecting "Search terms" from the drop-down menu. In the new Google Ads experience, this feature is accessed by clicking the reporting icon , then selecting "Predefined reports" 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.

Tip: Search terms on search partners

In addition to search results pages, your ads on our search partners may also appear on site directory pages, or other pages related to a person's search. The search terms in these instances may appear longer than normal or may be formatted differently, depending on the structure of a particular site or page.

How it works

The search terms report is a list of search terms that a significant number of people have used, and that resulted in your ad being shown. Depending on your keyword matching options, the search terms listed might be different from your keyword list.

The "Match type" column tells you how closely the search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to the actual keywords in your account. By checking which match types are working well for which keywords and searches, you can refine match types for all your keywords so that only the right searches cause your ad to show. The "Keyword" column tells you which of your keywords matched someone’s search term and triggered your ad. This column doesn't show by default. To learn how to modify columns, refer to View your search terms report.

How search term match type is 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 it will be indicated in the “Match type” column. Close variants can include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stem words (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, accents, and variants of your keyword terms that have the same meaning.

Keep in mind that a search term match type listed in your report might not be the same as the match type 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 keyword.

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 (same meaning and intent) 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 (same meaning and intent) 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.
Note: Dynamic Search Ads and Shopping targeting don't use keywords. In the search terms report, any terms matched to Dynamic Search Ads or Shopping targets won't return a keyword in the keywords field and they will return "Exact" in the match type field.

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:

  • If a search term isn't relevant enough to the products or services you offer, add it as a negative keyword. By adding irrelevant search terms as negative keywords, you can prevent your ad from showing to people who are looking for something you don’t sell. For example, if you sell eyeglasses, and you noticed that the search term “wine glasses” is triggering your ads, you might want to add “wine” as a negative keyword.
  • Edit your match type (namely, broad, phrase, exact, or negative) for existing keywords. The "Match type" column can help you understand how keyword match type is affecting your ad performance.
  • We recommend using Smart Bidding, which incorporates a wide range of contextual signals to set bids for each individual auction and help maximize your performance.

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