Making Search Query Reports Efficient and Effective

Sam Martin-Ross

One of the most important parts of perfecting any Google Ads account is sieving through your keywords matched search terms report a.k.a Search Query Reports.

This is for two main reasons;

  1. To find valuable keywords to start bidding on, and
  2. For irrelevant search terms to add as negative keywords.

This can get increasingly difficult and time consuming the more accounts spend, and as result is often neglected or not performed as frequently as it should be.

Ultimately, it can be a game changer in terms of ROI and so it’s important to have a technique that makes it efficient and effective.

Why is SQR analysis so important?

Well, there are many reasons. With multiple keywords in an account and the various different keyword match types available to apply to them (broad, broad match modifier, phrase, and exact), there’s really no telling what search queries are triggering your ads, not to mention with Google’s exact match keywords update.

Here’s a brief example of how and why one keyword can match to different search queries.

AdWords Match Type

To put it simply, when analysing your own SQR, you’re not only looking at which keywords you’ve added to your account that are triggering your ads, but more importantly the actual search queries used.

So why is this worth knowing if the keywords look like they’re doing their job?

Analysing this report often could be (and if you’re not already doing it, probably will be) the difference between an underachieving and an overachieving account, no matter what your end goal.

For example, what appears to be your most valuable keyword revenue-wise, may in fact also be where your largest amount of wasted spend is going too. By allowing this keyword to match to both valuable search queries and completely irrelevant terms, you could be inadvertently reducing your ROI.

Catching these out early will make a huge difference in ensuring your budget is only being spent on relevant, revenue generating traffic.

So, how do we do this efficiently?

This seemingly dull-but-essential-to-any-profitable-account report can be found right here in your account’s keywords tab:


Search Query Reports


Tip: A faster way to navigate here (or anywhere else in the account) is to enter ‘G’ then ‘T’ while anywhere in the new Google Ads interface, then start typing in “search terms” or whatever else you’re looking for, such as your “negative keywords lists”. You can also hit ‘shift’+’?’ to discover various quicker shortcuts around the rest of the account.

Looking through this report can be time consuming for anyone, especially when you have multiple accounts with multiple campaigns and thousands of clicks a day. Someone’s gotta do it, right?

This is why we use Supermetrics (one of the many paid tools we use to make our lives easier) to pull all of our matched search terms and their performance over the last ~3 days into one Google sheet. Here’s a look at how we set this up:


SQR Analysis


Set the supermetrics query to pull in:

  • Accounts: each one we manage
  • Date: the last 2-3 days (not including today)
  • Metrics: Impressions, clicks, CTR, cost, CPC, conversions, conversion rate, and cost per conversion.
    • We also sort our data by highest impression and clicks to see which search terms in particular are driving the most value, or doing the most damage…
  • And lastly, split by: matched search term, ad group, campaign, and account.
    • You can also split by keyword if you want to see what the search terms are matching to, although as we use SKAG’s (as mentioned in Steph’s blog) we can tell from the ad group name.

Going through one sheet and sorting by account and campaign is a much quicker way for us to effectively manage our SQRs. We find it’s critical do this at least two or three times a week, as the longer you leave it, the more it’ll build up which will not only leave you feeling overwhelmed, but can also take valuable time away from meeting other important KPIs.

We then either add keywords as new ad groups, and tailor new ads around the new keyword, or add them to one of our existing negative keyword lists, such as “General”, “Competitors”, or “Locations”. Categorising a few lists helps us manage them if they ever needed editing, for example, if a travel client added a new location to their service/account.


If you’re having trouble managing your SQRs, or anything else in your Google Ads account, please get in touch.