The Most Important Google AdWords Report (Hint: It’s Hidden)

/The Most Important Google AdWords Report (Hint: It’s Hidden)


”People only see what they are prepared to see.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson was of course not talking about Google AdWords when he penned that quote, but it fits perfectly with the topic of this article.  When managing Google AdWords campaigns, you will miss critical information unless you are prepared to see it.


Not Everything Is As It Seems

Have you ever watched a show like Flip This House or Flip That House?  I have no idea which one I’ve seen, and for all I know I may have watched a completely different show.  Regardless, all house flipping shows are pretty much the same.  They start with a run down home, then they demolish many of the rooms, add new appliances and a fresh coat of paint, and finally they try to sell for a profit.

But everything does not always go according to plan, which is what makes these shows addictive.  No matter how closely you inspect a home from the outside, it’s impossible to predict what’s behind the walls.  There could be mold, water damage, immovable support beams, or worse, structural damage.  You never know until you open up the walls.

Once you’re behind those walls, then you know exactly what you’re working with and how much it will take to fix, and flip, the house.


The Walls In Your AdWords Campaign

Many advertisers don’t realize there are walls within Google AdWords.  And if you never take a peek behind these walls, then at best you’re missing opportunities to improve performance.  At worse, you could be missing some serious structural problems that are wasting your ad budget month after month.

The walls are Google’s default Keyword performance reports.  These are the reports you see in AdWords when you click on the Keywords tab in your account.  You’ll see a list of your keywords, along with their respective key metrics.

To the untrained eye, the Keyword reports within Google AdWords can be completely misleading.  They can be like a fresh coat of paint covering up years of damage.


Because the keywords listed in the Keyword report are not the actual search phrases your prospects are typing into Google.

You may want to read that again.  I know it sounds crazy, but unless you’re only using what’s called Exact Match keywords, then the Keyword report in AdWords is like a wall preventing you from seeing what’s really going on in your account.


How to Tear Down the Walls

Again, it’s worth repeating that the Keyword performance report does not tell you exactly what your prospects are searching in Google to find your ads.

In order to find out exactly what’s going on with your search ads you need to run a different report.  Until recently, this report is not even visible without digging around, but now it’s a little easier to find.

Here’s how…

While you’re on the Keywords tab in your Google AdWords account, you’ll see 3 additional buttons below the main tabs: Keywords, Negative keywords, and Search terms.  Click the “Search terms” button to generate the report we’re looking for.

Again, the Search terms report will show you the exact phrases your prospects are typing into Google.


What Will You Find?

When I audit Google AdWords accounts, I almost always find a long laundry list of irrelevant search phrases in this report.  That can be the result of Broad match or even Phrase match keywords in the account without enough Negative keywords.

Sometimes I’ll discover certain phrases are driving the majority of the leads and sales, despite the fact that the ad campaign is not targeting that exact phrase!   In that case, it’s important to add the keyword to the account so you can optimize your bids and ads for that particular phrase.

If you’ve never run this “search query” or ” search terms” report before, then I guarantee you’ll be surprised by what you find hidden behind the regular Keyword report.  I can’t promise you’ll be happy with what you find, but I can promise you’ll never fully optimize your ad campaign until you dig into this report.

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  1. mike August 13, 2014 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    This is not that difficult to find and if you need an article to find it then i suggest hiring a professional to run your campaigns. The headline built up excitement but the article let me down.

    • Phil Frost August 13, 2014 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Mike – Sorry to hear the article let you down.

      The reality is that many advertisers are not aware of the keyword details report and it’s not obvious how to find it (or that you even need the report in the first place).

      When you combine that with the fact that AdWords defaults keywords to Broad match, then you can see why so many businesses struggle to get their ad campaign profitable.

  2. Mayo Racek August 22, 2014 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Hi Phil,

    I agree with you. Many businesses actually not think about it. It is not so obvious. It is easy, but important and I thank for article.

    It can make a big change in decision making and find out the right keywords.

    Thanks a lot Phil

    • Phil Frost August 22, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      You’re welcome Mayo! Glad you enjoyed this article.

  3. Barry August 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    You have my attention!

  4. Kaveh January 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the good advise. What do you suggest one to do if they pull this report and its very long? Audit one by one? or do you know a better way? Many thanks.


    • Phil Frost February 8, 2015 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Kaveh,

      You’ll have to go through the list one by one.

      I recommend you sort the report by conversions to see all of your top converting keyword phrases. Then sort by cost to see where you are spending the most money. Then sort by impressions to see which phrases are triggering your ads the most.

      If your report is very long and you prioritize by sorting, then you’ll ensure you’re focusing on the most important queries first.

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