What should I do about missing search terms?

Missing search terms are search queries which do not exist in your account as exact match keywords

  • Review reports regularly (here’s a great Google article about the search terms report)
  • Add search terms on exact match to the relevant ad groups, or create new ad groups where there is opportunity to test new areas
  • Add negative keywords to prevent ads from showing against terms that aren’t relevant to your business
  • Never do nothing with a search term as by definition you are buying that keyword anyway!

What are missing search terms and how are they different from keywords?

When setting up your Google Ads account, you thought about all the possible keywords to add to ad groups. These keywords were added in order for you to target the most relevant customers.

A search term, however, is the exact word or set of words that a user enters when searching on Google or one of the search network sites. It’s impossible to know every variation and related keyword that could be relevant at the time of creating your account.

Why are search terms important?

They’re are important because they help us refine the traffic we are buying, and therefore improve Quality Score, but they also help us find new ideas for keywords, ad groups and campaigns to further our reach within our target market.

The traffic you will buy as a result of acting on missing search terms include more targeted traffic and better bidding efficiency. You could also see an increase in your conversion rate as a result of filtering out unwanted traffic.

Why should I add them?

Ultimately you want to know the precise search terms which are triggering your ads and subsequent conversions. In order to do this, and know for sure which work and which don’t, they have to exist in your account as keywords. By adding missing search terms that you discover from your search terms report, you can measure the effectiveness once that keyword is getting clicks. Also, when adding an exact match keyword to an account you have the opportunity to create a new ad group with laser-focused ad copy which will likely have a higher CTR and therefore increase your Quality Score.

Why should I negative match them?

Preventing your ads from showing against irrelevant keywords will help you eliminate wasted spend.

How often should I optimize search terms and over what period of time should I review data?

The volume of clicks and impressions for your account will determine how often you review your search terms report and then add exact match keywords to ad groups or as negatives but looking over a period of 30-90 days is a reasonable rule of thumb. If this ends up being a very long list, then sort it by spend so you are adding or excluding the search terms you spend the most money on.

The most important thing to remember is: Don’t do nothing with a search term! Add as exact or add as a negative keyword is the only decision you have to make.