A question recently came across my desk regarding the use of the Matched Search Queries Report in Analytics when compared to the Keyword Details Report in AdWords.

The inquirer was interested in the benefits or drawbacks to both reports, also asking if they were interchangeable. I figured this was a great question to answer in the Search & Analytics field, so I’ll do my best to define and give my opinion regarding the pros, cons and interchangeability of these two complex reports.

First, we need to understand what each report provides data-wise. Let’s take a look at the basic data available for each one.

Matched Search Queries Report

This report offers insights into the keywords searched for that lead to paid advertising conversions. This report only includes AdWords data. Its standard information, without altering and creating custom reports based on this report, includes the following:

  • Visits
  • Pages per Visit
  • Average Visit Duration
  • % New Visits
  • Bounce Rate
  • Goal Completions
  • Revenue

The e-commerce tab of the report offers additional data:

  • Transactions
  • Average Value
  • E-commerce Conversion Rate
  • Per Visit Value

With this data, I can apply advanced filters, or custom filters, to single out a variety of segments of traffic. I can also look at search query versus landing page or exit page data using the secondary dimension feature. This data is much easier to manipulate.

With the matched search query report, we also have the option of looking at the data by match type. Knowing what types of keywords lead to the most revenue can help you make decisions about how you bid on keywords, as well as what types of keywords are worth the impressions as you build up to creating conversions.

I found it very interesting that in the data sample I looked at, Exact match keywords created more visits and more conversions, but less revenue overall. Broad match keywords created nearly double the revenue, with half the transactions. Phrase match keywords had the fewest visits and conversions, along with the lowest per-visit value.

Pros & Cons For Matched Search Queries Report

Below is the list of pros and cons for the Matched Search Queries Report.

Pros

  • Shows data by match type
  • Can apply Advanced Segments to this data easily, which is helpful if you’ve built custom segments by demographic or geographic location
  • Can compare PPC performance against organic performance, overall performance, or just specific segments of traffic fairly easily
  • Easily see e-commerce data applied to each keyword, and to each match type
  • View keyword data by landing page

Cons

  • If you work in Excel to manipulate data, you can’t get all the data out in one dump; you’ll need to dump multiple reports and marry them together in a spreadsheet
  • You can’t easily see AdGroup level data here; however,  you can get it by using a secondary dimension, then export to Excel, then sort and filter to find what I need, but it’s a bit “clunky”

AdWords Keyword Details Report

First, if you’re a beginner, you might not know where to find this information. It’s not something that is front and center, glaring you in the face. I think it should be, but Google doesn’t right now. You’ll find the keyword detail report here:

You can look at this for all campaigns, a single campaign, or a single AdGroup within a campaign. When you’re diagnosing issues with keywords, and landing page issues, this report, in its most drilled-down format, can be very helpful. You can add 24 different data points to this report. I’m not going to list all 24 here, but what this report doesn’t show is going to be pretty apparent in the “cons” section below

I’m a big fan of the data in the Keyword Details report. It’s much more reliable and realistic than just managing PPCs based on the keywords you’re bidding on. In my opinion, PPC managers should spend a great deal of time deep into this data. The keyword you’ve bid on tells only half the story. Because of the great variety of match types, what your ads actually show up for holds much more weight than what you’re bidding on.

I also like the ability to add up to 24 different data points to one report and then have the ability to dump this all out into an Excel spreadsheet. This is much faster than dumping 3 reports and copying and pasting them together as we do in the Match Search Queries report.

Pros & Cons For AdWords Keyword Details Report

Here are the pros and cons to the Keyword Details Report from my point of view. If you have other pros and cons, please feel free to share with the group in the comments section below!

Pros

  • You can find the Keywords that trigger your Product Listing Ads with this report. If you’re running these with a hookup to the Google Merchant Center, you know how difficult that data is to find. Just filter the report for all campaigns down to your Product Listing Ads AdGroup or Campaign.
  • You can add up to 24 columns of data to this report and export it all to Excel.  This makes the data much easier to manipulate much more quickly.
  • You’re given the keyword that you’ve bid on, with match type, that generated the actual keyword the searcher queried.
  • I can see if I have AdGroups or campaigns that are competing for the same term. If I sort the actual query by a single phrase – “Red Widgets,” I can see how many different AdGroups contain keywords I’m bidding on that generate that phrase.
  • I can see much more granular AdGroup data here. While AdGroup data is available via a secondary dimension in Analytics, it requires sorting, etc. to get there.

Cons

  • Even though you’re able to add 24 different data points to this report, you’re not given the site-specific data in the AdWords report. There’s no bounce rate, average time on site, average page views, etc., available when you’re working solely in AdWords.
  • There is no revenue data here. This seems like something that should be there, but it’s not available. I can see the cost, and the number of conversions, and the cost per conversion; but, I cannot see the revenue or the revenue per conversion. Cost per conversion is a figure that needs to be compared to revenue; you’ll have to do this in Excel or build a custom analytics report if you need this data (and you should).
  • It’s very hard to apply demographic or geographic filters to any data in AdWords. This is much easier in Analytics using Advanced Custom Filters.

Reports Are Not Interchangeable

While I think these reports are both very valuable, they are not interchangeable. Each offers insights that make them both important. I think if there were a way to dump the data from both reports into one Excel sheet, having all the queries match up – it would be an extremely powerful tool. Right now, I cannot find anyone who has done this any other way than manual entry. If you know of one, I’d be very excited to see it and to share it with the group.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Beginner | Channel: Analytics | Google: AdWords | Google: Analytics | How To: Analytics | How To: PPC | Search & Analytics

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About The Author: is the co-founder of Ignitor Digital, along with long-time colleague Mary Bowling. At Ignitor, Carrie tackles tough technical SEO roadblocks many small business owners don't even know they have. Her experience with analytics and troubleshooting helps her get to the root of issues. When not working, Carrie loves to cook for friends and family, hang out with her pretty awesome kids, and read books that have little-to-no educational value! You can also follow Carrie on twitter, @carriehill.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • Pat Grady

    The Search Terms report is best kept “secret” in PPC. Haha! Secret = you’ve gotta be willing to dig in for a few hours every day, so few do, it’s a “secret”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrie.hill1 Carrie Hill

    Hi Pat,

    I agree – why is something SO important SO hard to find?

  • Terry Whalen

    Hi Carrie, you actually can see revenue data in the AdWords search query reports. Just use the column picker to add those columns. And maybe at some point we’ll be able to add the Google Analytics columns into the search query report as we can now do for keywords/ad groups/campaigns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrie.hill1 Carrie Hill

    I just wrote a huge comment that the system apparently didnt like. Terry I just went back and checked the Keyword Details report and the columns available, revenue is not one of them. You can do it in Analytics, but not in AdWords…..

  • Terry Whalen

    That is odd. The only thing I can think of that might explain that is if the specific account you are checking is not tracking dynamic revenue values. But I did just check a pure lead-gen account, and ‘total conv. value’ is still a column option in keyword details (queries) page.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrie.hill1 Carrie Hill

    That may be the case – my “value” columns are all returning 0′s. Its definitely worth looking into.

  • Terry Whalen

    Yes – where we are not really tracking revenue, those columns just return 0; but where we are, they are returning accurate data.

  • http://twitter.com/bgtheory Brad Geddes

    Hi Carrie,

    I also see the revenue column like Terry does.

    You mentioned that you need to cobble together reports to get all the data from GA into spreadsheets. There’s actually an easy way to get all the data at once (this works for any GA reports) that just involved changing the URL a tiny bit.

    First off, if you change the number of rows you are looking at to anything but the default, (10) near the end of the URL, you’ll see something like: explorer-table.rowCount%3D25/ Where the last number is the number of rows being displayed (25 in this case).

    You can change that number to anything you want (like 10,000 – don’t use commas in the URL string though) and the browser will load up 10,000 rows and the export will also contain that many rows. Sometimes you need a good machine to do it as if you choose 50,000+ rows, it will be rendered on the screen first – so it can crash a browser on occasion; but it’s must faster to download lots of GA data that way then merging reports.

  • http://twitter.com/WebmasterFormat Roko Nastic

    Revenue = Total conversion value

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrie.hill1 Carrie Hill

    Hi Brad,

    I see that now, there’s something not right about revenue tracking in my personal accounts, apparently.

    This does highlight one of my big Google gripes – WHY doesn’t AdWords and Analytics use the same words for the same thing? Why don’t they work together more closely? Why not use the word “Revenue” in the AdWords system?

  • Jörg Denner
  • http://twitter.com/edsaxman Ed Cehi

    Agreed…lol

    …Also… in the article Carrie mentions that “Cost per conversion is a figure that needs to be compared to revenue”… well…that’s what the “Conv. value / cost” column does… this is your Value to Cost Ratio which is what most companies use to determine if a keyword or campaign is profitable… the formula for it is “revenue ÷ cost” to make this a percentage of course just multiply by 100. For example:

    $1000 (revenue) ÷ $200 (cost) = 5 x 100 = 500% Value to Cost Ratio

    …so just take the “Conv. value / cost” Google already gives you, move the decimal over 2 places and there you have your Value to Cost Ratio.

    This article would be much better had further research been done I’m sorry to say, but at least it does bring awareness to those that were not already privy to this information… also may be worth noting that you can add filters to an profile in analytics to get this same information which would include your “Time on Site” data and “Bounce Rates” and such…but to much to list here…

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.seakins.12 Matt Seakins

    Learnt this tip from Avinash around 2 years ago and it had helped me endlessly. I now find myself working in Analytics for analysis more than AdWords.

 

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