For those of you still managing your own Google AdWords campaign, here’s something you might find useful. (If you’re a client of ours, sit back and enjoy this, as it’s the sort of thing we’re slaving away at, while you get on with more interesting jobs.)
I’d be prepared to bet that most advertisers aren’t really monitoring the searches where their ads are appearing. Most people who’ve never run an AdWords campaign – and many who have – seem to think that the “keyword list” literally represents the searches where their ads will appear. Technically, this is just about possible. But in practice, it may be far from the truth. The keywords are what trigger the process, but the searches where the ads appear can be quite different.
Even if you’re using “exact match”, Google will show the ads against terms which it considers to be similar. But once you get into “broad match” (and you should), the searches where the ads appear can start to get quite different.
You can see these in the AdWords interface by going to Keywords > Details > Search Terms > All, or by going to Dimensions > View: Search Terms. If this is not something you do frequently, I’d recommend taking a look. You might want a stiff drink to hand. For further insights, add the column which shows the keyword which triggered the search.
You’ll find lots of horrors, of course, but many of them will be one-off searches. If one keyword is causing a lot of these, it may be time to re-examine the use of that keyword. However, you may also find searches where you don’t want your ad to appear having worryingly large numbers in the impressions column. At this point, it’s time to attack your “negative keywords” lists. If you’ve not tackled this before, best of luck.