This series is designed to help provide you with a better understanding of the true potential behind Microsoft adCenter’s paid search interface. Last month, I wrote about Campaign Analytics in adCenter. This month, I will talk about adCenter’s revamped search query performance reports and the benefits you can now take away from them.


Up until recently, I found little use from adCenter’s search query reports (SQRs). I’m sure we can all remember being frustrated over the fact that conversion data was not included in the reports, but fortunately those days are over. Now you can include conversion data in your SQRs!

If you are managing campaigns in adCenter, SQRs now unlock a whole new level of opportunity to optimize your keyword inventory. Not only will this strategy save on unnecessary click costs, but these reports will also help increase your overall marketing efficiency and accuracy as well. There are two things we can take away from the awesome new conversion data that is now available via adCenter SQRs …

Keyword Expansion

Expanding upon your keyword foundation is an essential component of managing a PPC campaign. This tactic allows you to more easily adapt your campaigns to current search trends and ultimately increase your overall marketing efficiency. Aside from free research tools, SQRs provide an excellent source of profitable keywords that you can incorporate into your account. As PPC practitioners, it is crucial that we capitalize on these, or else you will miss out on those visitors that could have become customers.

Now that we finally have access to conversion data in adCenter’s search query performance reports, you can look at which specific consumer queries are converting and add them to your account as exact, phrase or even broad match keywords. That way, you will have a keyword in your account to cater directly to that query in the future. Studies have revealed that 20-25% of search queries each day have never even been made before, which means that there will always be room for improvement.

By analyzing your consumer queries, you are basically letting your consumers do the keyword research for you. This way, you can be sure that you aren’t missing out on any high-performing and profitable keyword opportunities. Here’s what you will want to do:

  1. Login to your adCenter account and click on the Reports tab.
  2. Click Create new report and select Search query performance from the report drop-down menu.
  3. Specify your date range and report scope (i.e. the accounts, campaigns, and ad groups you want the report to include), the click on the link that says Change columns and layout. At this point, your screen should look like this:
  4. Check the boxes to add a Conversions column to your SQR, and then click the button at the bottom of the page that says Create new report so the system compiles your data.

Once your report is generated, you will want to filter your report for consumer search queries that resulted in one or more conversion(s). Then, compare those search queries to the respective keywords that triggered them. The keyword and query will be different, so then it becomes your job to act on the data. Are the queries already keywords in your account? If so, this could indicate a structural issue. If not, add them to the appropriate ad group as exact match keywords. Just be careful not to add duplicates.

It is important to make sure you are bidding on broad and/or phrase match keywords when utilizing this strategy. It will not work if you only have exact match keywords in your account. Unlike broad and phrase match, exact match keywords will only trigger from queries that are exactly the same as that keyword. Therefore, this would only be reiterating the keywords that are already included in your account and render this strategy useless.

Traffic Control

Traffic control is another thing you can take away from your SQR data. Packed with consumer queries, your SQRs are a great resource for negative keywords to include in your account. Just as dams around the world keep large amounts of water at bay, you should be doing the same with your PPC traffic with negative keywords.

Essentially, you want to repeat the steps that I outlined above for the Keyword Expansion section to generate an SQR report. Then, I sort the consumer queries alphabetically and look for patterns. Based off of the query patterns and one-off searches, I analyze the queries based on search intent and simply apply the irrelevant queries as negatives.

Let’s say I’m a sporting goods retailer and bidding on the broad match keyword football. From my SQR, I see that football cleats, footballs, and football schedule were all triggered from my keyword. Considering the fact that I’m trying to target people interested in purchasing football equipment, it should be obvious that I am not targeting fans looking for their favorites teams game schedule. Therefore, I would want to add schedule to my list of negative keywords in my adCenter account.

In adCenter, you currently have the option to place negative keywords at the campaign, ad group, and keyword levels. After attending a recent adCenter conference in Chicago, it’s been rumored that there is a change coming down the pipeline that would combine these three divisions into a single negative keyword list for each campaign. Therefore, it’s recommended that negative keywords be added at the campaign-level to avoid complications in the future.


Although SQRs with conversion data have been around in AdWords for a while now, we can finally access that same information in adCenter as well. Hopefully you’re as excited as I am to add this to my PPC management arsenal, because this strategy can save you unnecessary click costs, help increase your overall ROI, and improve the accuracy of your ad groups as well. For more info on this strategy, Chad Summerhill and Alan Mitchell have also written great posts. It is my hope that you will have taken something useful from this post to gain better insight into Microsoft adCenter. If you have any feedback, I would welcome any and all of your comments below!