Google Ads Search Terms Report Explained

The Google ads search terms report is an extremely important area in any Google ads account. This is where advertisers can see the exact terms that their ads are displaying for.

As a PPC agency we have worked with hundreds of advertisers over the years. When we first look at existing accounts, this is one of the first areas we check. The majority of advertisers tend to neglect this area of their accounts and this can result in a lot of wasted clicks.

What is The Google Ads Search Terms Report?

The search terms report can be found in your Google ads account in the keywords tab. Just above your keywords you will see the following 3 options.

google ads search terms report

To see the exact terms your ads are appearing for, simply select search terms. Once you change tabs you will be able to see all the different variations of keywords that have triggered your adverts to display.

One thing a lot of advertisers don’t realise is that Google will show your ads for lots of variations of the keywords they are bidding on. The only exception to this rule would be if your entire campaign was created using exact match keywords. Using only exact match would be extremely restrictive and it is uncommon for campaigns to be created using only this match type.

The majority of campaigns will be set up with a variety of keyword match types. Including broad match, phrase match and exact match.

When using broader match types such as phrase and broad, Google is given more freedom to display your ads for variations of the keywords.

Phrase match

When you use phrase match you are telling Google that your phrase must be in a search term for your ads to be displayed. However, it allows gives Google the ability to add words before and after your keyword. For example:

Your keyword = “Google ads management”

Search term example 1 = Google ads management jobs

Search term example 2 = best Google ads management company in Leeds

As you can see, both of the search term examples contain the main keyword. The first example here would not be a good search term if you were offering Google ads management. Someone looking for a job would be a wasted click. However, the second search term might be a really good variation, if you offered your service in the area mentioned.

Broad match

This type of keyword is much broader and your ads will show for a wider variety of search terms. It is not uncommon for search terms to be completely unrelated. Google will essentially match your ads with anything they deem relevant. This can waste a lot of money on visitors that are not at all interested in what you’re offering.

This is also the default match type in Google ads, so a lot of campaigns are set up 100% broad match.

You can learn more about keyword match types here

Finding Negative Keywords in the Search Terms Report

With any good Google ads campaign, a negative keywords list is essential. This is one of the main ways you will stop Google showing your advert for non-related terms. Basically when you add a negative keyword you are telling Google, that you do not want to appear for a certain keyword.

Before you even start a campaign you should create a negative keyword list. This should be a major part of your keyword research process when launching a new campaign. However, it is highly likely that you will still get traffic from irrelevant search terms.

In your Google ads search terms report, every search term will have a check box next to it, if the search term is not relevant to your account you can add it as a negative keyword. Simply click the checkbox next to the term you want to exclude and select “Add as a negative keyword”

search terms report negative keyword

Just like normal keywords, you can add negative keywords with different match types. This will control how restrictive your new negative keyword will be. You can learn more about negative match types here

Finding New Keywords in the Search Terms Report

The Google ads search terms report is great for adding negative keywords, but it is also a great way of finding new keywords.

By using broad and phrase match keywords you are giving Google the opportunity to display ads for hundreds or even thousands of keyword variations.

These keywords can often be longer and more descriptive. Which can result in keywords that are high intent and more likely to convert. The other thing to consider, is most advertisers are not bidding on these keywords either. This means, it is quite likely that they will be cheaper than the broader keywords in your account.

To add a keyword, you will use the exact same process as adding a negative keyword. The only difference is you want to add a as a keyword, instead of adding as a negative keyword.

Once you have added the keyword it will appear in your search terms report as an added keyword.

search terms report added keyword


Hopefully you have found this information about the Google ads search terms report useful. The main takeaway from this article should be to not neglect your search terms report.

The Google ads search terms report is a goldmine of opportunity. It is one of the fastest ways to cut under performing traffic and it can also uncover some hidden gems if you look hard enough.

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