Introducing Ghost Term Analysis, a new Supermetrics template from OIKIO Digital Performance Agency. ?

In September 2020, Google Ads changed their search term reporting practices concerning low-volume searches. Citing privacy reasons, advertisers no longer have full visibility into all the searches for which their ads appear in Google search results. 

Given the recent changes to keyword match types, it’s likely that many advertisers will find some of these searches irrelevant to their business and would rather not target those terms.

In fact, here’s one example of the kinds of problems the new omission might cause.

Luckily, here at OIKIO Digital Performance Agency, we recently discovered a way to reclaim these searches hidden by Google Ads, now dubbed as “ghost terms”, by using Google Analytics data. 

With this new Ghost Term Analysis template, any Supermetrics user can do the following in minutes:

  • Understand how big of an impact the Google Ads reporting change has had on their Google Ads account
  • See a full list of all these hidden searches with historical performance data
  • Get recommendations for new negative keywords to be added into their account (based on historical data)
  • Get recommendations for well-performing hidden searches to be added as new keywords (based on historical data)

These recommendations are mapped out for easy import with the Google Ads Editor, which then automatically adds all new additions to their respective campaigns and ad groups.

For the template to work as intended, make sure your Google Ads account is linked with your Google Analytics account.

How to use the Ghost Term Analysis template

If you’d like to use this template, open the Ghost Terms Analysis template and follow these instructions: 

Step 1: Make a copy of the template by selecting File > Copy in Google Sheets.

Step 2: When the copied file has loaded, click Add-ons > Supermetrics > Launch sidebar.

Step 3: When the sidebar has opened, click Add-ons > Supermetrics again and select “Duplicate this file for another account” from the drop-down menu.

Step 4: Follow the on-screen instructions to get a copy of the template with data from your Google Analytics account.

Psst! If you don’t yet have the Supermetrics add-on for Google Sheets you can install it for free. This will automatically start your 14-day trial (after which you can keep using the free version of Supermetrics’ Google Analytics connector).

Please note that for the template to work, you need to have your Google Ads linked to your Google Analytics account

The Ghost Term Analysis template will automatically create the following tabs:

  1. Info
    • Background information about the template and of its use.
  2. RAW – Keyword data
    • One of the two queries the template creates based on keyword-level data
    • This data forms a benchmark of sorts for the search terms to match against
    • No changes need to be made here as the template maps out your data automatically
  3. RAW – Search term data
    • The other query of the template based on search term-level data
    • No changes need to be made here as the template maps out your data automatically
  4. Ghost terms – Overview
    • Based on these two data sets, the sheet compiles a table and a stacked bar graph about the findings regarding measured clicks, sessions, cost, goal completions, and transactions
  5. Ghost terms – Full list of hidden search terms
    • As the name of the sheet suggests, this tab compiles all the hidden searches in a table form, allowing you better visibility as to what kind of searches were hidden and what their historical performance was like
  6. Ghost terms – Suggested negative keywords
    • Based on historical performance, this tab automatically suggests some hidden searches to be added as negative keywords to increase Google Ads performance
  7. Ghost terms – Suggested new keywords
    • Based on historical performance, this tab automatically suggests some hidden searches to be added as new keywords to increase Google Ads performance and keyword visibility

By default, the template uses data from the last four weeks. 

Next up, let’s take a closer look at some of the tabs and how you can use your reclaimed ghost terms data.

1. Understanding the overview graph

In the sheet Ghost Terms – Overview you’ll find a 100% stacked bar graph, that matches the keyword data to search term data automatically.

The keyword data, listed in the graph as “reported keywords”, lists the actual clicks, sessions, costs, goal completions, and transactions that Google Analytics was able to track. On the right hand side of this bar, you’ll find the combined data from reported search terms and rediscovered “ghost terms” that should roughly match the keyword-level data.

The difference between reported search terms and “ghost terms” is that the latter doesn’t report any clicks or any other Google Ads related metrics.

Take cost for example. 

Using sessions as the shared data point, the template calculates cost per session for each respective ad group and uses that as a way to get an estimate of the cost for these hidden searches. The results may not be 100% accurate as some keywords inside the ad group may have wildly different CPC prices, but it does provide reliable enough data to be considered actionable.

For many advertisers, it may be enough just to look at this overview. 

Here’s a guide of what different data thresholds could mean for different advertisers:

  1. Less than 10% of search term cost is hidden 
    • Consider yourself lucky, as your ad visibility has not been impacted that much. Chances are you’re not missing out on that many crucial hidden searches.
  2. 10-40% of search term cost is hidden
    • The template is likely to suggest at least a few key searches that you’d probably like to add either as negative keywords or new keywords. 
  3. Over 40% of search term cost is hidden
    • Without this template, you’d lack visibility into what searches trigger your ads. Shining a light on that alone should be reason enough to use this template. 
Juha Viherväs from OIKIO
“More than that, the template will give any advertiser further understanding of what kind of searches have been hidden from them and whether there is any cause for concern. Even if these listed searches end up being non-actionable — for example, only low-volume typos — it’s crucial that you can recognize them and focus on other things.”
Juha Viherväs, Head of PPC at OIKIO Digital Performance Agency

2. Adding new negative keywords to your Google Ads account

In the Ghost Terms – Suggested negative keywords tab, you’ll find a list of suggested negative keywords that can easily be added to your Google Ads account with the Google Ads Editor. 

The template lists all the hidden searches that match the following criteria:

  • No measured clicks, meaning that the click’s aren’t visible in Google Ads (i.e. “ghost term”)
  • No measured goal completions or transactions
  • Search cost has been higher than average search cost
  • Listed searches are ranked based on cost (descending)

These listed searches are designed to be added as multiple negative keywords by using the Google Ads Editor:

  1. In your Google Sheets file:
    1. Go to the Ghost terms – Suggested negative keywords tab
    2. Select cells A3:H (table of listed searches) > Copy to clipboard
  2. Open the Google Ads Editor
    1. (Do not select any campaigns from the left-side navigation, remain on the account-level)
    2. Go to Keywords and targeting > Keywords, Negative
    3. From the top navigation, select “Make multiple changes”
    4. Select “Paste from clipboard” > Process
  3. Post changes

Adding these searches as negative keywords to their respective ad groups should improve paid search performance by reducing your non-converting ad spend. 

Before adding new negative keywords, make sure to carefully review all the listed search terms.

3. Adding new keywords to your Google Ads account

In the Ghost Terms – Suggested keywords tab, you’ll find a list of suggested keywords that can easily be added to your Google Ads account with the Google Ads Editor. Here’s Google’s guide on how to add multiple new keywords.

The template lists all the hidden searches that match the following criteria:

  • No measured clicks, meaning that the click’s aren’t visible in Google Ads (i.e. “ghost term”)
  • Has made a conversion (goal completions or transactions) 
  • No direct keyword match found in the active keywords
  • Listed searches are ranked based on conversions (descending)

These listed searches are designed to be added as multiple new keywords by using the Google Ads Editor:

  1. In your Google Sheets file:
    1. Go to the Ghost terms – Suggested new keywords tab
    2. Select your preferred keyword match type in cell K3
    3. Select cells A3:I (table of listed searches) > Copy to clipboard
  2. Open Google Ads Editor
    1. (Do not select any campaigns from the left-side navigation, remain on the account-level)
    2. Go to Keywords and targeting > Keywords
    3. From the top navigation, select “Make multiple changes”
    4. Select “Paste from clipboard” > Process
  3. Post changes

Adding these searches as new keywords to their respective ad groups should improve your paid search performance by adding new converted search terms to the keyword-level. 

Before adding new keywords, make sure to carefully review all the listed search terms.

How to schedule your queries for maximum efficiency

Supermetrics’ scheduled refresh feature will keep any queries up to date and enable all kinds of automations.

In this context, we recommend using “refresh & email (daily/weekly/monthly)” to receive continuous information about hidden search terms with minimum effort.

You’ll find the feature from Google Sheets by navigating to: Add-ons > Supermetrics > Schedule refresh & emailing > Action > Refresh & email

In the screenshot below you have an example of a refresh & email monthly setup. 

Jaani Saulamaa from OIKIO
“We recommend that you schedule these queries and email the findings to yourself on a regular basis. By using this template, you’re able to screen out the worst performing hidden searches (“ghost terms”) and include the best performing searches as new keywords. Remember, you can no longer find this data in Google Ads!”
Jaani Saulamaa, Lead Paid Search Consultant at OIKIO Digital Performance Agency

Editor’s note: We hope you found this template as useful as we have! To uncover more insights from your performance marketing data, start your free trial of Supermetrics for Google Sheets today.

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