New AdWords Interface - A Review of the New Search Query Report Feature

April 3, 2015

One of the things being shown off at SES New York a few weeks back was Google’s new AdWords interface. It’s currently in beta and is being rolled out to more and more customers. There have been a series of in-depth blog postings and discussions about the interface as a whole. The new is definitely a lot slicker than the old:

The new AdWords interface is much more visually appealing than the old.


The old AdWords interface had a number of shortcomings.

The first is definitely prettier, and you can certainly make your way through the interface more swiftly. But what about new features?

The most interesting feature for a manufacturer of PPC management software that focuses on search query data was the new search query report.

Basically the interface lets you run a search query report in real time for a specific keyword, then add or set your negative keywords for the search queries related to that keyword:

The search query report often lops off "other queries", as pictured.

The queries are blurred but the basic idea is that you can see queries your AdWords keywords are running against, and then either add or exclude those keywords from your campaign. So if you bid on the word potato and got a query report showing:

  • Potato soup
  • Couch potato
  • Idaho potatoes

You could add the first and last query, and set a negative for couch potato.

This new search query report is better, but still very much incomplete.

Why It's Better

You used to have to pull a search query report, export the data to a spreadsheet, muck around with the spreadsheet itself, then add or remove a mass of keywords at once through the decidedly slower and clunkier old AdWords interface.

Why It's Incomplete

There are two reasons this new report is incomplete: one is based on efficiency of review, the other has to do with the completeness of the data.

Lots of Queries Means Lots of Time - When I have three queries to review, as in the example above, the new interface is great. But what about when I have thousands? Even a medium-sized AdWords account will often generate hundreds of clicks and thousands of impressions. Going one by one down such a list to hand-add new queries is pretty tedious.

Where’s the Rest of It? – This has really always been the biggest issue with the search query report, and it’s not solved here: you don’t get all your queries. Most of the time, on a given day, when you pull a search query report for a given keyword you’ll get something that looks like this:

Search Query Reports often show obfuscated queries.

What we’re seeing here is that there have been thirty three clicks on “other queries”. You’ll note that the add as a keyword and add as negative keyword buttons are grayed here: you can’t take action on queries they aren’t showing you.

Completing the Search Query Report

The two things that would make this report really valuable would be to expose all of the traffic you’re receiving from paid search, and to offer a means of clustering similar keywords and phrases together to make the review process quicker. WordStream offers this by providing users with an analytics package that records all new traffic (you’ll never see “other queries”) and with our keyword grouping tools:

WordStream offers an alternative to the search query report, pictured below.

As you can see, you’re not just looking at potato-related phrases in one big, disorganized bucket: you can segment by phrases that contain mashed potato variations, then either make those words negatives (individually) or designate a whole group as negatives.

Final Word On the New Search Query Report

By integrating this report within the AdWords UI, Google’s solved one of three problems with using the search query report, but the larger questions of reviewing a mass of search queries efficiently and visibility into all the queries you’re actually paying to show your ad against remain unanswered here.



Tom Demers

Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.