June 15, 2009: While I remain mixed on how I feel about Google’s new AdWords interface, there is one cool feature that I have been taking full advantage of – viewing “real” search terms that bring traffic via PPC.
When you select “See search terms” you are presented with search queries that triggered your ads and brought visitors to your site via the ads. This data has long been available through the Reports in Google AdWords, but the new interface brings the data right to your fingertips – all in one place for a particular Ad Group, a set of Ad groups within a Campaign, or for the entire set of Campaigns.
One data slice that has been particularly interesting to me is looking at how people search by geographical location.
Our company is located in Massachusetts. While we work with companies across the country, many companies search for agencies that are close to home. So, if someone was looking for “B2B seo in georgia” (see the graphic below), we probably would not want our ad to be displayed (unless the searcher was open to working with an agency in other places).
In the example above, our ads are available for all searchers in the United States.
In the example below, we are working with a client who only serves people in Massachusetts. We are running two different kinds of Campaigns – one targeting a national audience where people are searching for terms that include “massachusetts” or “boston”, and one Campaign that serves ads only to people searching within Massachusetts.
What we found when looking at the actual search terms people used to find our client is that, even in the ads targeted only to people residing in Massachusetts, they were often looking for eating disorder treatment facilities in specific states and cities:
While you can solve this issue by only bidding on keywords that contain the name of your city/state/region, it is probably a better idea to leave yourself open to searchers who may be agnostic to where you are located.
What to do?
Consider adding in the names of states (and their abbreviations), cities, locations, etc. into your negative keyword sets so that your ads are not triggered by searches for locations that are not a fit.
By adding these words into your negative keyword sets you will not only avoid wasting money on clicks from visitors that are likely a poor fit for you, you will also lift your Click Through Rate (CTR) because your ads will be shown less often & only to the more-qualified searchers. A higher CTR will benefit your Quality Scores, and allow you to potentially lower your keyword bids and maintain a high position on the search engine results page (aka “SERP”).
To help you quickly manage the negative keywords you might want to use for states and their abbreviations, I have pasted a text version of the 50 states/abbreviations that you can copy, paste, and edit (deleting states that you do actually target and want to be found for):