Here at Clean Digital, we have put together a blog series on what we believe are the fundamentals of a successful PPC strategy. We’ll kick things off by outlining the importance of search terms, and the key role they play in campaign optimisation.


Search Queries: Why are They so Important?

Today, we are going to start with search terms. It’s no secret that the most important thing for a successful account is to identify to whom we would like to show our ads. With more than 63,000 searches in Google each second, showing your ads on irrelevant queries (and therefore paying for these clicks), can obliterate your monthly budget and tank your PPC strategy.

Keywords: Who Is Going To See My Ads?

The first point is key, something reasonable yet sometimes people struggle: know your audience when you are creating your keywords. We show ads to humans, so we need to put ourselves in our client’s shoes and think about how they might be searching for us in Google. Most of the time, there will be around 3 types of queries:

  1. Branded queries: People who are familiar with your brand are likely to be people who are willing to convert on the spot, so protect your brand! Google lets advertisers compete for your brand keyword, and it may happen that your competitor appears above you in the search results page. Losing a sale to a competitor, who’s ad outranked yours, on a user who was originally looking for your company, is something that should not be overlooked.
  2. Product queries: Normally, we all start with a search that covers our needs. For instance, if I would like to buy some trekking shoes, I would probably start my search by typing “buy Salomon trekking shoes”, “Salomon shoes”, or “trekking shoes”. Covering these queries is key to a successful campaign.
  3. Generic queries: These tend to have a huge impression volume and cheaper cost-per-clicks, but also a lower conversion rate. Queries like “shoes” or “trekking” don’t usually drive direct sales, but make no mistake; these are a good option to grow your brand and drive new users to the site.

Search Query Report: Marketers’ BFF

The second point might be second nature for most readers, yet it must always be reviewed and updated. I’m talking about negative keywords. With all of the searches every day along with keywords close variants – which broadens keyword matching – new queries often appear in the search term report. For the best performance, a campaign needs a good base of negative keywords that will prevent from matching to queries that are not relevant to us. To provide you with an example, thanks to the fast-moving query report, we spotted that all of a sudden the system started serving our ads when someone was looking for definitions related to one of our keywords. If this had gone unnoticed, we would have certainly spent money unnecessarily, as the average cost-per-click was of £3.21.

Google shopping campaigns are more challenging in this sense. It is not possible to target keywords, so the importance of the search term report is key during the initial weeks of the campaign. You would be surprised how imaginative Google’s AI can be! At Clean Digital, we have developed a tool called “universal positives” that eases the pain of reviewing search terms; stay tuned, we have more on this in an upcoming blog.

Coming Up with the Correct Campaign Structure

The third point is related to the account structure and how grouping your campaigns into different keyword match types makes a huge difference. Dividing campaigns into exact match [my keyword] and modified broad match (BMM moving forward) +my +keyword is an extended best practice that lets you have more control over your budget and overall presence. Exact match keywords tend to have higher CTR (click-through-rate) and CVR (conversion rate), compared to the BMM campaigns because the keyword matches exactly what the user is looking for. On the other side, as Google matches more queries to BMM keywords, these keywords tend to have more impressions and spend more overall. I feel like you are reaching the same conclusion here: segmenting campaigns will allow you to maintain a presence on exact match (higher CVR) when needed, without running out of budget due to the BMM queries.

Advanced Tools and Strategies

Finally, another piece of advice is to know your query themes. It is no secret that there are some word combinations that perform better than others. Last month, we performed an n-gram analysis for one of our clients. An n-gram analysis takes all of the queries, splits them into words, and groups them into the most common word sequences. After performing the analysis, we found that users typing “hire” had a 50% lower CPA (cost per acquisition) than those typing “rent”. This information allowed us to quickly create specific keywords with “rent” and “hire”, in order to differentiate between them and set different CPCs, thus giving us more control over spending. That is just one of the examples of how useful knowing your query themes can be, we have even created a simple Data Studio report to show how intuitive it can be. As a matter of fact, the analysis is a good way to discover new campaign themes or even create negative keyword lists.

Report created from Google’s Sample Data


We have covered a lot so far, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. It is no coincidence we have started the series with this article. Search is about intent, presence, and thinking strategically to prioritise one keyword to another, to ensure we make the most of the budget. With poor campaign structure, keywords, or matching, to name a few, it’s impossible to survive in the long run.

Once the basics are understood, you can jump into the impression share metric and its relationship with position metrics, click-through-rate, cost-per-click, or impression volume. Google is said to be an “ecosystem”, everything is related here.

Thank you for getting so far, see you in the next article!

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