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A simple way to optimize your Adwords PPC campaign, is to run regularly scheduled search query reports.

What is a “search query report,” you ask?  A search query report is available through the Adwords interface, and it shows the actual search queries people typed in before clicking on one of your ads. While the reports leave something to be desired in terms of their level of detail, they can still be very useful. The problem is that some of the keywords get lumped together under the heading, “x other unique queries.” That being said, the queries that are actually shown can be surprising and informative at times.

New Adwords users often think that their ads will only show up when someone searches for the keywords exactly as they enter them into Adwords, but that’s not usually the case. Whenever you “broad match,” or “phrase match,” a keyword, you leave the door open for many different variations on the search phrase to trigger your ad to display.

Broad matching in particular, gives Google a lot of room to show your ad for a wide range of different queries. I’ve seen where Google completely drops one of the keywords in a broad matched phrase. An example would be:

Keyword: bright blue widgets
Search phrase that displays ad: blue widgets

Google can also change your broad matched keywords based upon algorithmic ways that it defines concepts. This can get scary at times. To prevent your ads from showing up for keywords you don’t want, run search query reports regularly; and either use “negative keywords” to get rid of terms you don’t want, or take out the broad matched keywords replacing them with more accurate phrase matched keywords.

Don’t rule out the “broad match” altogether though, because broad matching can sometimes bring in cheaper conversion costs by showing your ad for search queries you hadn’t thought of targeting.

To run a search query report while in the Adwords interface, click on the “Reports” tab, “Create a new report,” then choose the “search query performance” radio button, and define the rest of the options.

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