Weekly Wisdom with Amy Bishop: Search Query Mapping

Amy Bishop

Aug 20, 20196 min read
Search Query Mapping
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Modified Transcript

Hi, I am Amy Bishop. Today, we are going to talk about search query mapping and the importance of it. Search query mapping goes by several different names. I have also heard it called "search queries sculpting" or "keyword sculpting." Essentially the premise of it is making sure that you are being very intentional about which search terms are mapping to which keywords in which ad groups.

Why Search Query Mapping is Important

Typically, we would build out our ad groups into tightly themed keyword groups. We build out small ad groups based upon the specific theme of the keywords; this way we ensure that every ad we put in that group will be relevant to all of the keywords that are within it. We would think that since we built out our ad groups correctly, using a good structure, that should take care of ensuring that our ads are always relevant to the search query.

What Can Go Wrong

Unfortunately, queries can still accidentally trigger ads from other ad groups, and the most common reasons for this are match types. Phrase match and broad match keywords can map to a lot of different queries, and then also close variants, so even exact match keywords can map to queries that don't exactly match them.

Let's look at an example of this. Let's say the search term is "Dog Toys with Treats." It could match "Dog Toys Holding Treats", and it could also match just to simply "Dog Toys" in a modified broad match. We have this search term that is matching two different ad groups.

One ad is likely way more relevant to the search term versus the other because the ad group "Dog Toys with Treats" likely has an ad that is specific to that query. It probably specifically includes the term "Treats", and it probably leads to a landing page that has dog toys with treats. Whereas the general ad group likely has a more general ad and it probably takes the searcher to a more general landing page that could include a broad scope of toys.

This is a problem because we are not controlling that experience, and that means that we are missing out sometimes. Having ad groups that aren't as relevant and aren't as great of experience means that we are not always capturing as much revenue or as many leads as we could be. But it is also a data integrity problem because we have this data for this search term that is split up into little pockets all throughout the account. 

Some of them may be performing well, others not, but if it is not spending a lot in all of these different areas, it could be flying under the radar. In aggregate, it could be a big opportunity to fix. But because it is flying under the radar, we don't notice, since it is just a little bit spent here and there.

Looking at this and making sure that we are always keeping an eye on our search terms are mapping and looking at how search terms are performing aggregate, is really important. We will go through how we can manage this and the best way to control this moving forward.

So, how do you keep things under tight control?

Part of that is just based upon your ad group. Make sure that you have tightly themed groups of keywords and that you are providing the most relevant ad copy to those keywords at each point. But even if you have a lot of different ad groups and they are all tightly knit, it is still possible that more general queries could be mapping to multiple things, especially if you are using broad or modified broad keywords.

We have to keep an eye on our search terms report, and we need to ensure that search terms are matching to the appropriate ad group. That's why I like to call it "search term mapping."

How to Use Excel for Search Query Mapping

The easiest way that I find to do this is to use Excel. I am a big Excel nerd. Instead of scanning through that list and trying to just mentally make note of where that search term is appearing and trying to make sure that it is not appearing in multiple places, I like to use the subtotal function within Excel.

If you export all of that data from your account, then you can pull all of that data into Excel, and you can review it to see where there may be issues. Let's walk through this process together.

Here we have all of this data in Excel and what I am doing here is I am sorting by search term; you can do ascending or descending. We just want to get all like search terms together. We are going to highlight all of that data. You want to go to the Data tab within Excel, and we are going to click this Subtotal button. We are going to do it each change in a search term; you want to make sure that you choose Count, click Ad group, and then click Okay.

Then it is going to subtotal it. You can click the "2" for a nice summary there. Then we are going to dig into some of what this data is telling us.

Ad Groups Analysis

Let's just explore a few of these. If we click the plus button, we can dig into which ad groups are matching here, and we can see that the search term is "buy dog toys." It is mapping both to "dog toys", and "squeaky dog toys." That one has a lower return on ad spend, which isn't surprising because the ad is probably specific to squeaky dog toys, and that is not what they are searching for.

Let's look at another one. If we look at "Dog Toys with Treats"; itis matching "Dog Toys with Treats." It has a great return on ad spend. No surprise. It is also matching "Dog Toys"; that has a pretty low return on ad spend. Again, it is not a surprise because the ad is probably not specific to dog toys with treats.

If we look at this third one, the search term is "Dog Stuffed Animal." It has a few sales, really low return on ad spend. They may be looking for a stuffed animal that is actually a dog. They may be looking for a stuffed animal that looks like a dog. It is possible that the person wasn't sure if they should exclude it or not. But then you see here it is mapping to other ad groups, it is spending more money. It doesn't appear to be relevant overall, so probably should just exclude it altogether.

The important thing to know here is that if you do exclude one of these, it is just going to push more volume into the other ad groups because it is mapping to multiple ad groups. We have to make sure we excluded in all places, and that is another reason that you should really be careful and aware of how your search terms are mapping to your ad groups.

Once you have defined where you want those search terms to map to, you just need to go back to the other ad groups and make sure that you add that search term as a negative to ensure that it's always funneling through the ad group that you have chosen. So, it is just giving you more control on the overall performance of your account in making sure that you are being really deliberate about when you are serving ads and what that experience is for each of those different keyword themes that you are targeting and making sure that the search terms are as relevant to those keywords as possible, and that that experience fits what they're really searching for.

This has been your Weekly Wisdom; I hope it has been helpful. Thanks.

Author Photo
Amy has built and implemented multichannel digital strategies for a variety of companies of all sizes from start-ups and small businesses to Fortune 500 and global organizations spanning several industry verticals. Her expertise includes e-commerce, lead generation, and localized site-to-store strategies. Amy regularly speaks at industry conferences across the United States and internationally, including HeroConf and the SMX circuit among others. Amy is the local chair for SEMPO-Louisville. Amy also writes for leading industry publications Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. Amy recently launched Cultivative, a performance marketing agency. When not working, you can find her talking shop on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/hoffman8.