It can be very difficult at times to find the actual search terms your PPC traffic arrives from, so this is a Google Analytics trick all advertisers should know. Google’s search query report can be useful but for high-traffic phrase or broad match keywords being told that 8 of your clicks arrived on “85 unique queries” doesn’t really give you the complete picture!
Since the introduction of expanded broad match Google can (and does) match your broad match keywords to just about anything vaguely relevant; knowing these queries is important, either to negative match them or to reduce CPCs by using an exact match. The image below really does highlight this point, notice the extremely irrelevant term “shooting holidays USA” was triggered by a broad match of travel PPC!
This report was setup last week and shows the AdWords keywords (either exact, phrase or broad match) followed by the actual search term which triggered the clickthrough in brackets:
(Click for full-size image)
Step by step guide on how to setup a Search Query report in Google Analytics
This information can easily be found in Google Analytics but, although the method is simple, it is not obvious; to be able to access this PPC goldmine you have to use filters. Until last week I didn’t even know the filters feature existed and even if I had I wouldn’t have been able to do the regular expressions stuff that our filters will need. For this reason I’d like to thank the Google Analytics Experts and the linklove blog for giving me some simple step by step instructions.
- In the above case we’ve set up a new profile before messing around, just to ensure that if a mistake was made none of the data is affected. There’s an “Add a Website Profile” option on the Analytics settings page; you want to add a profile for an existing site and then name it.
- Then you want to write the two filters; click the “Filter Manager” button and then add a filter.
- This first filter will get the search query and place it in a user defined field. I call it “Get Search Query” but you can name it whatever you want to. Select “Custom Filter” from the filter type drop down menu and select the “Advanced” radio button. You should see some input fields named “Field A -> Extract A” and similar.
- In the “Field A -> Extract A” drop down menu select “Referral”; this will pull out the SERP’s URL on which the ad was shown. In the box to the left on the drop down menu write “(?|&)(q|p)=([^&]*)” without the quotation marks. This is a regular expression which extracts the search query from the SERP’s URL.
- In the “Field B -> Extract B” drop down menu select “Campaign Medium” and write “ppc|cpc” in the box. This filters out all the organic clicks.
- In the “Output To -> Constructor” drop down choose “Customized Field 1” and enter “$A3” in the box. This just tells Google Analytics where to store the data. Finally you need to click the button to make field B required and the one to turn off case sensitivity. Then apply the filter to your new profile.
- The 2nd filter includes this new data in the keyword report. Again, you want to set up an advanced custom filter but this time choose “Customized Field 1” from the “Field A -> Extract A” drop down. In the box write “(.*)”
- For “Field B -> Extract B” select “Campaign Term” to find out which of your keywords the search query matched and enter “(.*)” again in the box.
- Finally in the “Output To -> Constructor” menu choose “Campaign Term” or wherever you want your data to go and then enter “$B1, $A1” The space after the comma means that you can export your data to a .csv and have a separate field for the actual search term.
- If you’ve followed the steps as I’ve laid them out then the filters should be applied in the right order; if you want to check the information is there when you click to edit the new profile from the “Analytics Settings” page.
As always, it’ll be a little while before Google Analytics starts to register the new data so don’t be too impatient. Unfortunately the filters can’t be applied retrospectively so you can’t start using them on all your old data but as far as I’m concerned this is the only downside. Set up the filters and start refining your AdWords campaigns!