Use Google Analytics to go beyond the Search Query Performance Report

Search Query Performance reports for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are extremely valuable for finding new and negative keywords, but another helpful indicator of search terms can be found within Google Analytics (GA).  Two filters work in conjunction with each other to override your PPC keywords and grab the exact terms that users are typing in when clicking your ads.  So what’s the big deal?  Don’t Search Query Performance reports tell me this information anyway?  Yes, but these override filters tell you what happens post-click and, as I always say, PPC cannot be done in a vacuum.  You need to analyze the whole process from search query to conversion.

Let’s take this example.  Say I am bidding on the phrase match of the term “user interface design.”  The Search Query Performance report tells me that my ad was clicked for the longer tailed term “user interface design certificate.”  I do not see that a conversion occurred, just that the ad was clicked.  Here is what I see in GA with the override filters turned on.  Note that the term I am purchasing is listed first, followed by the actual search query in parenthesis.

I see that the user who searched for this term and clicked the ad viewed 3 pages while spending 2 minutes and 43 seconds on the site before exiting.  Exactly like any other keyword I need to determine why a conversion did not occur.  I immediately ask myself these questions about the longer tailed term:

1)      Does this keyword meet the goal(s) of my PPC campaign?

2)      Is my ad targeted enough to this keyword?

3)      Do I need to write ads that better target this keyword?

4)      Is my landing page appropriate for this keyword?

5)      Which page did the user exit from?

6)      Do I even want my ads showing up for this variation of the keyword?

7)      Do I need to add the term “certificate” as a negative keyword?

In answering these questions I need to take into account the entire process, not just pre and post-click individually.  In this case I would continue to allow my ads to show for this search phrase because the user did interact with the site.  Even though a conversion did not occur, the user found my site relevant enough to stick around.  If I just looked at the Search Query Performance report I might make “certificate” a negative keyword based on my initial impression that the term is not relevant.  However, as the override filters tell me, the term was relevant enough for the user to spend some time on the site.

With the Search Query Performance report and the override filters working in conjunction with each other I get a good sense of the entire PPC process.  The more data captured the better.

So how do you actually setup these override filters?  I present the screenshots below.  Remember that both of these filters have to be active for the process to work.

Filter #1

Filter #2

Do you use these override filters?  Or do you have before and after examples of how these filters helped you make actionable decisions?  Leave a comment and let me know.

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2 Responses to Use Google Analytics to go beyond the Search Query Performance Report

  1. Gustavo says:


    I found this post very interesting. In fact, I also use these filters for detailed keyword analysis and are very useful, however this is not the case when analyzing in an aggregated level because every keyword is considered as a different entity.
    In example, if I wanted to know if [user interface design] was more successful than [UI Design] in general terms, I would need to export the data and manipulate it to analyze it.

    The bottom line of it: Always have a profile without a filter.

    What’s your opinion about it?

  2. Hi Gustavo,

    I agree that when using these filters it is necessary to set them up in a separate profile. Definitely makes it easier to look at overall site data vs. just PPC campaign data.

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