The Art of Filtering in Google AdWords

When you manage a large AdWords account with tens of thousands of keywords, you learn to appreciate the little things that save you time.  So when you make a strategic decision and decide to do something, like cut budget or drive hard on CTR to improve account quality scores, or optimize Google Display Network, you want to do it quickly. Get in, get out, get on with your day.  Thankfully AdWords has developed several features to help do just that – and a lot of those revolve around slicing/dicing data…aka Filters.

Of course, I’m not going to give away all the ingredients in my secret sauce and honestly, I often use third party tools for campaign and bid management, but here are a few of my favorite filters available to all advertisers through AdWords.

AdWords Editor (AWE) Advanced Search:

You can save searches that help you quickly drill down to keywords or ads that you might want change, pause, increase/decrease bids, or use as a basis for expansion. At the top of AWE beside the search box is a link to Advanced Search.

The above saved Advanced Search is an example for Zero Clicks.  You name it, save it for re-use, then you can select it as your View in AWE and optimize from there. You can use this view across tabs:  keywords, placements, ads, ad groups, etc. You can also use this view across AdWords accounts.  Other custom views based on Advanced Searches that I use are:

  • Zero Conversions
  • 1+ Clicks
  • QS <=4
  • GDN Campaigns
  • CTR <1.0, Imp>500
  • Avg Position>5
  • Disapproved

For Filters, you are mostly only limited by your own creativity. Most common metrics are available as criteria and it’s fun to select multiple ones to see what filters to the top (or in the case of poor performers, what sinks to the bottom.) Note: you can only save up to 8 custom advanced searches that you can re-use in AWE views, so choose ones you use most often or can use as a base to fine tune with column sorts.


AdWords UI – Keyword Filters

In the Keywords tab in the AdWords UI, you can create and save lots of different filters that can help optimize an account or quickly find kws that are disapproved or not performing to their optimal capacity.  Just go to the Keywords tab in AdWords UI and then open Filters.

Below are some ideas for some saved KW filters (I would  never have these multiple criteria in one saved filter; it’s just to show some possibilities of filters that might be helpful to you.)

After you set up and save a  filter, you can adjust the date range and optimize from there, either right in the UI or by downloading selected items, making adjustments in Excel, and then uploading into Editor or into your third party mgmt tool. There are also some pretty good filters that you can set up for Ads (creatives).


AdWords UI – Home Dashboard – New Version

Recently AdWords launched a new version of the Home dashboard that allows you to use Modules that Google has created or customize modules based on your Saved Filters. (Don’t worry – if you love the previous version of the dashboard you can still toggle between the old and new versions, at least for now.) For the below example, I created a saved filter for KWs with quality scores of 4 or lower. Then I can select that Saved Filter to show on my Home tab dashboard.

Once you have your modules set up, you can click on “View Saved Filter” for each module from the Home tab, and go directly to the appropriate Campaign, Ad group, KW or Ad filter, and do what you need to do to get the job done.  Pretty smart, pretty efficient.

While much of data analysis in paid search is science and statistics, there’s definitely an art to setting up and using filters for your AdWords account and in selecting the appropriate time period for the data you want to analyze.  There’s also an art to how you name campaigns or ad groups so you can setup useful filters. Also, filters can be VERY account specific.  What is a reasonable filter for one advertiser might be ridiculous for another. But from experience, you definitely get a feel for the filters that work overall and then can mold them for your account’s situation.

Spending a little time testing some filters out and playing around in Editor and the AdWords UI can save you tons of hours in the long run. Trust me. The less time I have to spend downloading CSVs and then manipulating columns in Excel, the better.

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  • Frank

    I like the look of the new Home filter, that’s going to be really useful.

    February 25, 2011 at 8:24 am
  • Lisa

    Yes, I agree Frank. I hardly ever used the previous version before, now I might.

    February 25, 2011 at 8:27 am
  • Sarah

    Thanks for the tip on the new home dashboard! I will definitely be adding some filters to my dashboards.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm
  • Jon Lisbin

    Thanks for the post Lisa! Always learning something new from you pros.

    March 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm

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