The Secret Workaround To Take Back Your Google Ads Search Query Data

The paid search world has been abuzz the last few days after Google announced an aggressive move to limit search query reporting.

Fortunately, there appears to be a workaround, at least for now…

Many accounts were greeted with the below notification this week stating that Google was “updating search terms report to only include terms that were searched by a significant number of users. As a result you may see fewer terms in your report going forward.”

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As a long-term PPC manager, the news is a massive blow.

Google is now picking and choosing what data it chooses to surface, dramatically reducing the ability of paid search managers to optimise accounts and reduce wasted spend for clients.

Fortunately, there appears to be a workaround to view this search query level data, at least for the time being…

The prerequisites are pretty simple: have your Google Ads account linked to Google Analytics with auto-tagging enabled. If you are unsure on how to do this, use this guide on how to link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts.

To view the data, log into Google Analytics and navigate to the Search Queries report in the left-hand menu: Acquisition > Google Ads > Search Queries.

It is as simple as that. This report will show you the search query of every user that generated a session in Google Analytics on your website – including queries that Google has filtered out of Google Ads.

At first glance, you will notice that the data is skewed, total number of clicks is significantly lower than the total number of sessions.

Clicks are the number of times that users have clicked on your ad. Sessions are the amount of times a user engages with your website.

The difference between the two numbers is the data that Google Ads has filtered out. In this particular example Google has filtered out 330 sessions and hidden this data in Google Ads.

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We suggest creating an advanced filter to only show the queries that Google Ads is hiding – that way you can look at Google Ads data and Google Analytics data to get your complete dataset and truly understand where your marketing dollars are being spent and how your campaigns are performing.

The advanced filter should filter data where: clicks = 0.

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Whether this is a deliberate concession that Google has made, or they just haven’t got around to updating it remains to be seen. Fingers crossed it’s the former!

We will keep you updated with any progressions we see.

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