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Ah, the search query report. The bane of some PPC’ers existence. No, not because it isn’t useful, but because every time you go through it, it pisses you off. “Google matched me to what?!”

Some days it’s good for a laugh [insert your best example in the comments], but some days it’s only good for an imaginative string of profanities flying out of your mouth that your co-workers never heard, or maybe don’t even understand. Then they stay away from you the rest of the day.

And if that’s the case (the co-workers staying away part), then that will give you some extra time to use the search query report to its fullest advantage. So let’s talk about that, instead. Focus on the good. Breathe…

Negative Keywords – Sorry, I have to state the obvious. That’s why we all know about this report in the first place; but just in case you don’t know about the search query report: it’s a list of all the search queries people actually typed in the search box, which triggered your ads.

Let’s say you sell scrapple (it’s a food, look it up) and you have the broad keyword scrapple. You look through your search query report and see you got clicks from scrabble and Snapple. Out come the profanities and in go the negative keywords – scrabble and scrapple (We’ll overlook the fact that maybe you shouldn’t be using the broad keyword scrapple anyway. That’s a topic for a different day).

Bottom line – the search query report helps you find naughty keywords and add them as negatives so you don’t get these unwanted clicks in the future.

Filter out the crap.
Cut down on unqualified clicks.
Improve ROI.

New Keywords for PPC – Now this is where it gets fun. Let’s say you sold five tons of scrapple in one order to McDonald’s for their new McScrapple sandwich. You jump into your PPC campaign and see the keyword was… scrapple. Then you dig deeper and into the search query report and see the actual keywords was from the tail term – the best scrapple for sandwiches. My friend, you have found a gem, and we’re not talking about the new McScrapple.

Will this new term be high volume? Maybe not. Is it worth adding it as its own keyword in its own adgroup with a specific ad and possibly a specific landing page? Shit, yeah! (That’s a good time to curse. Screw your co-workers.)

Not only can you have a new adgroup with keywords and ads for “Scrapple for Sandwiches” (and all the derivative terms you think are applicable), but you might even want your landing page to showcase how delicious your scrapple looks on a bagel or some melba toast (Fact – I do not actually know what melba toast is. I should probably Google it). Who knows, maybe the King wants to unleash a scrapple sandwich as well. And when they look on Google for a scrapple provider, you’ll be ready.

New Keywords for SEO – So maybe your “Scrapple for Sandwiches” find doesn’t have to be just a PPC landing page, but a welcome, navigable addition to your website. Title tag, description tag, content, images, incoming links, all the good stuff (kind of like scrapple). You now have a new page, with real content, with potential for conversions from organic traffic. All because you mined a search query report.

Blog Posts / Content / Q&A – When you really dive into a search query report, you’ll be amazed at what people search (and even more amazed on the fact that they clicked on your unrelated ad, more cursing is fine). But one trend you’ll start to notice as that people play Google Jeopardy and type their queries in the form of a question. “What is in scrapple” is a good example.

So what do you do with a question-phrase like this?

Well, this might not be a high-converting term since it’s someone in info-seeking mode, not necessarily buy-mode. But you can still use it to your advantage.

You may not want to include it in your PPC campaign, but it would make one hell of a blog post or even a resource on your site. After all, if you make scrapple, you’re the expert. Let everyone know you are the expert. Be the expert, Grasshopper (Fact – there are no grasshoppers in scrapple).  So if McD’s or the King are considering your scrapple for their next sammich, they may consider the fact that you really do know your scrapple when deciding on a scrapple-maker.

Also, it could make great link-bait material. Either natural link-bait or even for outreach. So while you may not actually get any scrapple sales from this particular term, you may get more links, shares, etc., and that has an indirect impact on your ROI by aiding your SEO efforts.

Local Trends – If you’re running campaigns in different locations, you may notice people search differently in different regions. Insulating your attic in the US, is known as draft-proofing your attic in London. Sneakers is used more in New York vs tennis shoes in Chicago. And of course scrapple is a Philly term vs…well, there really isn’t much of a comparison anywhere else. Anyway, if you notice local trends in your search query report, you can use this data to custom tailor your keywords and ads in certain geographic campaigns.

A Few Other Ways to Use Search Query Reports –

1)      If you need logs for refunds from the engines (proof you are getting clicks from negative terms), this is some great data to help your cause

2)      Want to know if you should test match types in different adgroups? Analyzing the conversion data on queries can help aid that decision

3)      Geek Fun – at your next PPC party (PPC Cruise) pull out your “Best of” List. Always good for a laugh.

And while all of these tips are good, I am sure there are even more creative ways to use this report for PPC, SEO, or any form of marketing (or nerd-partying). If that’s the case, be sure to let us know in the comments and I’ll update this list with a link to your site/blog.

Also, special thanks to @Matt_Umbro (the genius behind #ppcchat) who inspired this post with a tweet. And I’m giving a nod to @AndrewBaker72 from CleverSquare who will be talking about the Google Analytics Match Search Query Report in a future post on his own blog.

Final note – No cows or pigs were harmed in the making of this blog post, but they do make great scrapple!

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