Paid Media

The impact of advances in Search Query Reporting

Big news! Google announced in September 2021 some major changes to improve their search term report tool to provide advertisers with extra data. This is contrary to the trend of data privacy and restriction that continues to dominate the narrative of digital marketing. The past few years have seen us be able to access less data causing issues with attribution, and audience targeting, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Google is “giving back” and with Google Analytics 4 and new platform updates across the stack, for example with Search Query Reporting, we’ve got access to new data. Read on to understand the impact of new updates in Search Query Reporting.

What updates have we seen in the Search Query Reporting?  

A larger number of terms

Effective from 9th September 2021, Google search query reports began showing a much larger number of terms, to provide insight into what audiences are searching for more broadly, and opening the door to the true spread of keywords your ads have been serving for. Google stated this can offer greater opportunity for campaign optimisations, and unleashed historical data from 1st February 2021 to allow further analysis by looking back across both 2021, and now moving into 2022.

We took a deep dive into several of our client accounts, comparing data in a six month time frame pre and post-update. Comparing the data from August 1st 2020 to January 31st 2021 (Phase A) and February 1st 2021 to July 31st 2021 (Phase B), we found a 3,000% increase in the number of search terms reported. However, whilst this update provided some deeper insight into the full breadth of terms ads are serving against, we found the value of this additional data to luxury brands specifically up for debate.

On further analysis, it was found the majority of this new data derived from zero click terms. This dramatic increase can be shown in the tables below from three luxury markets, highlighting the increase in data for zero click terms grew exponentially but search terms generating clicks only increased slightly or in some instances reduced by 10%. 

Phase A: Pre-update: August 1st 2020 to January 31st 2021

Phase B: Post update: February 1st 2021 to July 31st 2021

Luxury eCommerce

With 0 clicksWith clicks
Phase A1114,764
Phase B278,98311,530

Luxury Fragrances

With 0 clicksWith clicks
Phase A182,229
Phase B3,4361,992

Luxury Hospitality 

With 0 clicksWith clicks
Phase A12,003
Phase B4,1701,982

Naturally, these zero click terms themselves add no value in terms of conversion, as these users never made it through to the site. So while the access to this data seems helpful on the surface for greater analysis and in-depth reporting, we’re really not able to use this data to optimise the accounts in a way that supports revenue-based goals. Additionally, the task of processing these huge reports will become more time consuming if you do not apply filters or know exactly what you are looking for. 

On the other hand, looking at some longer-term benefits of this update, the huge amount of zero click terms could potentially demonstrate what we are missing out on or areas for improvement in our ad copy. Monthly search query reports can be used to show trends of search terms which we would typically move away from or perhaps assume have no relevance, however incorporating a search term which has a huge search volume could improve how many clicks we can generate in the long-term.

Emojis and different languages are being pulled into the Search Query Report

Another update Google has introduced is producing reports which include emoji’s and different languages from the account set up. Wordstream ran a test in November – following Google’s announcement and found that including emoji’s in keywords and Google Ads can improve CTR by 10%. They also suggest this increase in CTR can result in greater Quality Score, overall ad position and CPCs.

Again, the value of knowing what language users are searching in or if our audiences are including these small emotive icons in our search results can be argued as relatively useless for conversion based accounts. 

What are the key trends we’ve noticed post the update surrounding Search Query Reporting ?

That being said, one key benefit we can see from the new update, particularly for luxury and premium brands, is the power of this data to help us create negative terms. Highlighting irrelevant terms that our ads show for and weren’t previously identifiable allows us to remove anything potentially damaging to the brand, and maintain a positive search experience for customers. Whilst this update provides no added value to finding converting keywords or removing badly converting keywords, it encourages us to focus on higher quality keywords. 

How are we shifting our approach to incorporate the new Search Query Reporting advances? 

As demonstrated, Google is now providing a huge amount of information on search query reports. From what we have seen, the majority of these changes are driven by queries with no clicks.  

What we do know is that the update provides no added value to identifying keywords for accounts which seek to drive revenue and conversions. But it does provide further data to identify and expand on our negative keywords by shedding light on search terms which could have a negative impact on how the brand is perceived and performance. Something that is so important when managing search accounts for luxury brands.

The other impact this update has is with more data available, there needs to be a more refined and advanced approach to how to handle and extract value from the Search campaign data. Teams will need more human resources  to truly understand what is useful and can drive impact.

If you would like an expert to look over your accounts and provide insight to how your accounts are working, we provide account audits as a one off project. We also provide on-going media buying management for brands. Get in touch to speak to an expert to learn more.