What are AdWords filters? You’ve probably heard of them, but are you using them? If you’re interested in discovering the power behind AdWords filters, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m here to tell you that filters are the superheroes of the PPC world. At KlientBoost, we can’t live without them.
Why? Because AdWords filters are a built-in feature within the Google AdWords (or Google Ads) platform that will help you improve your PPC performance quickly and easily through being able to visualize and group data in a way that turns it into actionable insight.
Why AdWords Filters Are Great
With AdWords filters, you don’t have to manually look through rows upon rows of data to find paused ads or underperforming keywords. With a few quick keystrokes, you’ll get what you need in the blink of an (unstrained) eye.
They’re super easy to learn and to apply. And the time and headaches they’ll save you are worth their weight in gold.
AdWords Filters allow you to set specific criteria by which to monitor performance by Campaign, Ad Group, and/or Keyword.
Here are some simple sample filters to get you started:
Filter 1: For keywords with high impression levels (More than 200 impressions)
Filter 2: For keywords with low Quality Scores (ranking 1-3)
Filter 3: For keywords with high CPAs (Conv. value/cost Greater than $20, or whatever is a good cutoff for you)
Filter 4: Combine all three – Keywords with high impression levels + low Quality Scores + high CPAs
With these filters in place, you can now see ALL keywords across your campaigns or ALL ad groups that meet this criteria (in this case, keywords that could be hurting performance) in one simple chart.
There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be using AdWords filters. Their benefits hit all the sweet spots: improving CTR and giving you a simple way to know EXACTLY what to do once you log in to Google AdWords.
Things to Know Before You Start
Like everything else in the new Google AdWords interface, the filter functionality has changed—we think for the better. Now, you’ll find it under the “Filter Icon,” as shown below.
Once you click on the icon, a drop-down window will pop up. This is where you’ll see the built-in filters and any you’ve created yourself.
There are just a handful of things you should know before you start creating AdWords Filters.
First, filters use a few mathematical symbols. A quick refresher:
> Greater than
> = Greater than or equal to
< Less than
< = Less than or equal to
For example, this filter is set for ad groups with a low- to mid-ranking position:
Filter 5: For ad groups with an average position of Less than 8
Pretty simple stuff, but those carrots can be confusing if you don’t use them a lot.
Second, filters must be set to reflect the goal you’re trying to achieve. Normally, these are ROAS, CPC, or CPA-type objectives. For the most part, those will be our reference points in this post.
Also, Google has set up different filters for different views. So, you’ll see different filters if you’re in the Keywords, Ad Group, or Campaign view.
Also, because there’s no way organize the filters in the drop-down, make sure to add them in the order in which you want them to appear—especially if you’re going to permanently save them. It’s a small detail, but it can make your work in the AdWords platform go that much faster.
Adding Multiple Restrictions in Filters
Just follow these steps to add multiple restrictions within a single filter in any view:
- To start, click the filter icon on the left, then choose your filter from the drop-down.
- Enter the parameters you want to use in the box that pops up.
- Click apply.
- To add the second filter, click “Filter by” and repeat the above steps to add the new restriction.
If you want to save the filter, select the “Save filter” checkbox–and your custom filter will appear in the drop-down window.
To illustrate: Let’s say you’re testing AdWords ad groups with different holiday discounts. Each ad group clicks through to a different promotional landing page on mobile.
Marketing calls and wants to know which of these pages is converting at higher than average costs.
So, you set a filter to look at all mobile URLs with the “Holiday_Promo” parameter and cost more than $12 per conversion:
Filter 6: For mobile URLs with special parameter + cost per conversion greater than $12
Your answers will appear in the table below the filter, proving that filtering can definitely be a smart way to find information fast.
Which Ones Should You Use?
Of course, the ability to dive into the weeds makes knowing which filters to choose a little more complicated.
That’s why it’s best to make a list of the metrics that are most important to track your goals before you dive in. Is it seeing ad groups that have a low cost of conversion but high spend? Keywords that have high impressions but few clicks?
A good rule of thumb to follow: look for high cost and low performance.
To help you get started, we’ve listed a few of our favorite filters below.
Must-Have Keyword Filters
Now, on to what you’ve all been waiting for: some of my personal favorite filters – and the filters that are among the most frequently used here at KlientBoost.
Google offers extensive built-in filters that can illuminate the most important keywords queries you’ll have. But again, with depth can come overload.
If you’re just starting out, there are a few simple filters that can really improve performance when applied: Quality Score and Click-Through Rate.
Getting rid of keywords with low quality scores is a sure-fire way to improve your overall CTR.
But first, make sure to filter out the keywords that aren’t getting any clicks — those should be the first to go.
Filter 7: For keywords with less than 1 Click
Breaking the quality score rankings into groups of three (1-3 for low, 4-6 for medium, 7-10 for high) is usually enough to do the trick.
Filter 2 – Repeated: For Low Quality Score ranking (1-3)
Filter 8: For Medium Quality Score ranking (4-6)
Filter 9: For High Quality Score ranking (7-10)
Let’s look at how to filter for Quality Score:
Let’s say we’re running several different campaigns, each with a different bid strategy. For our CPA-driven campaigns, we want to make sure that we’re optimizing for only the best performing keywords that are below our $10.00 conversion cost.
This filter will show us the keywords that we want to get rid of: those that have low quality scores and conversion costs that are higher than our max:
Filter 10: Specified bid strategy type + Quality Score less than or equal to 6 + Conversion value per cost greater than $10
The idea here is to filter for those keywords with low CTRs but high impressions, or high CTRs.
Filter 11: For keywords with CTR < 20% + Impressions >= 100
Filter 12: For keywords with CTR > 30%
These filters will identify your top performers across all ad groups and campaigns.
Another great filter that helps us stay organized:
Filter 13: For “All Non-Active Keywords”
This shows which keywords you haven’t used yet.
If you’ve executed more than one search for keywords, you now have an easy way to identify them.
Search Impression Share
We’ve been waiting a while for this one. Who knew seeing how you measure up against competitors could be so easy?
Filter 14: For specified keyword + Search Impression Share
The search impression share filter helps you understand how your keywords and ad groups are faring against the competition. It can indicate if you’re ‘owning’ the keyword or if you need to bid more.
Keyword Average Position
This is another great one for gauging a keyword’s performance. Start with average position, and then add in other metrics.
Filter 15: Average position <8 + CTR <10%
Filter 16: Average position <8 + Impressions >100 + Clicks = 0
Both filters will flag problematic keywords that likely need some attention. Any keywords that show up under Filter 16 might just need to go.
Keyword Bid Position
While this position is based on averages, it’s helpful to see whether a keyword makes the cut off for a first-page bid.
Filter 17: Status Matches > Below First Page
Matched Keyword Search Term
This filter focuses on search terms, helping you analyze your data to see what terms you are and aren’t ranking on. Say the keyword for your e-commerce page is “brown boot”.
Filter 18: Added/Excluded = None + Search Term does not contain “bear”
Filter 19: Added/Excluded = None + Search Term does not contain “slipper”
Selecting “None” for Added/Excluded means it will only show keywords that aren’t already excluded. Based on the search terms that show up, you’ll get clued in to whether it’s worth adding negative keywords to avoid wasted clicks, adding new keywords, or setting up new ads to boost performance.
Our Favorite Ad Group Filters
While the devil is certainly in the keyword details, Ad Group filters are also powerful, especially when you’re testing many different scenarios.
For example: if you happen to be testing certain ad text, you can actually filter for that text and add other specifics to see how that text is performing. Here, we want to know which ad groups with the term “free shipping” have cost us over our $200 budget.
Filter 20: For specified ad text (i.e., “Free shipping”)
That ad text filter:
And, both filters together:
Filter 21: For specified ad text + Specified ad cost
Other great Ad Group ideas to improve the health of your campaigns:
Impressions and Clicks. An oldie but still a goodie. Just create a filter for groups where you have a certain level of impressions but no clicks, and consider revising ad copy or pausing the ads.
Filter 22: For Impressions less than 100 + CTR less than 10%
Clicks but No Conversion. Look for these underperforming ad groups and flag them for further investigation, such as message cohesion between landing page and ad text.
Filter 23: For CTR greater than 10% + Low Conversions
Good Engagement. Ad groups where visitors stay on the page longer and with higher click-throughs equal good engagement.
Filter 24: Avg. session duration (seconds) > 120 + Clicks >= 150
Top Campaign Filters
Campaign filters are best implemented when you’re managing multiple campaigns.
In those instances, we recommend using filters that revolve around low conversions and high spend, such as:
Filter 25: For Cost greater than $100 + Conversion value per cost greater than $10 + Clicks less than 10
This filter will return all of the campaigns with costs over $100, and conversion values/cost over $10.00 and less than 10 clicks (when you still haven’t broken even).
Other campaign-level filters that are helpful:
End Date and Conversions. Identify those campaigns that are over or under performing before they end.
Filter 26 (Under-performing campaigns): For specified end date + Specified Campaign Cost + CTR less than 10%
Filter 27 (Over-performing campaigns): For specified end date + Specified Campaign Cost + CTR higher than 30%
Invalid Clicks. Campaigns that are generating too many invalid clicks should raise a flag as these can raise your overall cost. While Google monitors for and automatically filters out any invalid clicks they identify, if a certain campaign is generating too many invalid clicks, it could be cause for investigation on your end.
Filter 28: For specified number of invalid clicks
High Bounce Rates. Campaigns with high bounce rates, plus those with high bounce rates and high clicks, likely need adjustment to ad copy or images, or even the CTA itself.
Filter 29: Bounce rate > 55%
Filter 30: Bounce rate > 55% + Clicks >= 150
And there are more. Again, choosing what filters you need and at what level will depend on your end goals.
Placement Report Filter
This is an excellent filter to ensure you’re getting the most out of your ad budget. Catch and eliminate spammy sites that are driving up your spend and falsely boosting impressions.
Filter 31: Placement + “Does not contain” + “.com”
Filter 32: Placement + “Does not contain” + “.net”
Filter 33: Placement + “Does not contain” + “.org”
Combine all three and you’ll catch some fishy sites ending in “.xyz,” “.us,” etc.
AdWords Filters Equal Friendly Work Spies
When used right, AdWords filters are the perfect work spies: they do the investigating for you and deliver the (useful) dirt to help you get an edge up on the competition.
There are several other filters that help you stay on top of your AdWords account when it’s managed by an outside team or agency. One of our go-tos is Change History, which will show you different breakdowns of the activity on your account based on your specified parameters. For example, you could create a custom filter that searches for any changes made by a specified user in your account or in a specific campaign or ad group.
Filter 34: For specified campaign + Specified user
Filter 35: For specified ad group + Specified user
This filter is also a great way to understand the optimization process when you’re not the one doing the optimization, so you can see how much work is (or isn’t) being done.
And remember: there’s nothing stopping you from playing around here. AdWords filters are fast, flexible, and free – and they’re a great way to get familiar with the power of Google AdWords for all your PPC needs.
What are your favorite filters? Any I missed that you think are worthwhile to add into the mix? Please leave a comment below.