The Value of Google Adwords Search Terms Report

If you are knowledgeable on PPC, you are familiar with the Google AdWords Search Terms Report. If you are new to Adwords or have someone else managing your SEM, you need to become familiar with this report that reveals crucial keyword data.

This post will quickly look at what the report is and how match types tie into the equation. Then we’ll jump into an example that will demonstrate the true value of the AdWords Search Terms Report.

What Is the Google AdWords Search Terms Report?

According to Google, the search terms report is a list of search terms that people have used, and that resulted in your ad being shown and clicked. Google differentiates a Search Term from a Keyword explaining:

 “A search term is the exact word or set of words a customer enters when searching on or one of our Search Network sites. A keyword is the word or set of words that AdWords advertisers create for a given ad group to target your ads to customers.

Search terms give marketers data about what their customers are actually looking for. However, the search terms your ads appear for depend on the match type selected.

Keyword Match Types and the Value of Search Terms Reports

Google has four different match types. The exact variation of the keywords you are bidding on within Adwords are not likely to trigger your advertisement (unless you are using exact match). The reason the search terms report is so valuable is because it shows you all of the actual search terms that were typed into to Google before someone clicked on your advertisement. The example below from Google introduces this concept.

AdWords Search terms and keyword types

Realized Value: Example from the Expert

Based upon the example below, someone could search for “Free Divorce Attorney in Tampa” or “Cheap Divorce Attorney in Tampa” and the ads would show up on Google based on the match type we selected. If this attorney was one of the more expensive lawyers and didn’t take on pro bono cases, these would be keywords you’d want to add as a negative keyword since they wouldn’t convert into new business for their firm. HERE is a video that will show you how to add negative keywords into your campaign. HERE is a list of negative keyword list that should work for most businesses.

How to get to AdWords Search Terms report inside AdWords screenshot


A lot of clients our agency speaks to during the discovery phase have never seen a search terms report. Based upon the example above, you can see that I’ve highlighted where to view the search terms.

Below is an example of a search terms report. You can see people are looking for a female divorce attorney and someone who offers a free phone consultation. This allows me to make a business decision that “free” should be added as a negative keyword. The fact that this firm actually has a female attorney specializing in divorce gives me the confidence to keep “female divorce attorneys Tampa.”

Copy of AdWords Search Terms report


Without viewing the search terms report, you do not get a true gauge on the traffic quality being driven to your site from paid advertisements. Not all PPC agencies are familiar enough with your product or services to correctly add in all of the correct negative keywords. This takes a collaborating effort between the agency and the client.

In the future, make sure to constantly monitor your search terms report or have someone on your team or with the agency you are dealing with this be responsible for this. And in case you want to learn more, check out my recent YouTube video below!


Image Credits

All screenshots by Jason Parks. Taken May 2018.

Feature Image: Screenshot of Google

Image 1: Screenshot via Google

Image 2 & 3: Screenshot via AdWords


Jason Parks

Jason Parks

Jason Parks is the President and Founder of The Media Captain and Cleveland Marketing King, two digital marketing and development agencies based in Ohio. He's a VIP Contributor for and has been featured in the New York Times, Yahoo News and Search Engine Watch on digital-marketing topics. Jason's agencies have helped hundreds of businesses increase their online exposure.

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