So you’ve realised your current Google AdWords strategy is missing out on a big opportunity to connect with long-tail searchers who are further along in the buying cycle and more likely to convert. You’ve also realised you’ve collected a wealth of search query data while you’ve been running your current Google AdWords campaigns over the past few months or years. You therefore want to use your search query data to improve your long-tail targeting, reach these searchers at the later stages of the buying cycle, and increase your return on investment (ROI) from Google AdWords marketing.

However, when analysing your search query report, it can all too often be overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start. You find yourself falling victim to analysis paralysis, and give up without making any tangible improvements to your campaigns. So to help mine your search queries for new long tail keywords, below are 3 techniques I find incredibly useful:

1. Theme Analysis

Theme analysis involves extracting one, two, three, and four word themes from your search query data, then compiling a frequency report for each theme to compare their performance. For example, if you are a retailer of artificial grass, there might be a lot of very different searches which all mention the words ‘real looking’, but get hidden in the data when you look at each different search query individually.

Pulling out individual themes, therefore, lets you see how searches which contained the words ‘real looking’ words performed as a whole. It’ll let you see how searches which contained the words ‘drought resistant’, ‘low maintenance’, or ‘waterproof’ performed as a whole. It’ll let you see how searches which contained the word ‘cheap’ compared to searches which contained the word ‘discount’, and how searches which contained a location performed versus searches which did not. Amazingly powerful stuff.

By comparing the conversion rate / cost per enquiry / return on investment for each theme, you can determine which themes performed well, and which themes performed poorly. You can also see which themes were more popular than others, giving you a priority of importance for expanding your campaigns.

Armed with these insights, you can then expand your campaigns to include more long tail keyword permutations, and create more targeted ad messages to cater for these new long-tail keyword themes.

For example, if you identify ‘waterproof’ as a popular and promising keyword theme in terms of click volume, conversion rate, cost per conversion, or return on investment, you can then create new long-tail keywords and new targeted ad messages based around ‘waterproof’ variations.

Since you’re using actual search query performance data, you should be in a better position to make more informed decisions about new keywords to create compared to a less informed strategy without any search query performance data, which in theory should help to increase the performance of your campaigns.

2. Broad Match Generation

Broad match generation involves using your broad match keywords as a mechanism to generate new exact and phrase match keywords, in an endless cycle of generation and expansion.

Your broad match keywords are kept in a separate campaign to your exact and phrase match keywords. Search queries which have then been matched to one of your broad match keywords are either added as new exact and phrase match keywords (if they are relevant), or added as negative keywords (if they are not relevant).

Your new keywords are then also added as negative keywords to your broad match campaign, preventing those searches from being matched to your broad match keywords in the future.

The only searches which should match to your broad match keywords are those which have not yet been added as exact, phrase, or negative keywords. Impressions and clicks to your broad match keywords should therefore reduce over time, giving you more control over your campaigns, and allowing you to create even more targeted ads to cater for your increased number of long-tail themes.

Over time, you should end up with an ever-expanding list of exact and phrase match keywords, and an ever-expanding list of negative keywords. The more you continue to generate and expand, the more your campaigns grow.

Broad match generation is a great method for larger Google AdWords campaigns which could benefit from a bit of strategy and direction.

3. The 10% Clicks Rule

The 10% Clicks Rule is a method of highlighting your keywords which are receiving a disproportionately high amount of broad-matched impressions or clicks, and could therefore benefit from having its search queries analysed.

By running a keyword report, filtering to show only your broad match keywords, and sorting from highest to lowest in terms of clicks and impressions, you can see which keywords are receiving a high number of clicks or impressions.

Once you have identified a keyword which is receiving a large number of clicks or impressions, run a search query report, and filter to show only the search queries which were matched to that keyword.

You can then determine whether each search query theme is relevant or irrelevant, and expand into new long-tail keywords and ads (if the theme is relevant), or add as new negative keywords (if the theme is not relevant).

The 10% Click Rule is therefore a great way to quickly and efficiently develop a prioritised strategy of where to focus your time and effort to generate the most impact to your campaigns. It’s not as comprehensive or effective as theme analysis or broad match generation at improving the long-tail nature of campaigns en masse, but can be very useful as a short-term technique to help quickly identify the weak points of a campaign.


Most Google PPC advertisers have a wealth of search query data at their fingertips, the majority of which goes unused. Mining your search query data without a clear strategy can be daunting and time-consuming, but with a clear strategy and process, such as using techniques such as theme analysis, broad match generation, and the 10% clicks rule outlined above, it is possible to translate your search queries gold into improved campaign profitability.

Alan Mitchell

Alan Mitchell

14 Years Experience. 10,000 Hours Research & Innovation. Exclusive Self-Built Technology. World-Leading PPC Marketing by Alan Mitchell

Go direct to the expert

Melbourne, Australia