So, Google Analytics reports the search keyword that was used to find the website – you can also see the number of sales or other conversions that resulted from that query. However for Adwords traffic the keyword that is reported is the “bid term”, the keyword that is targeted in the Adwords account. This is different from the real search term that people used in their search, because Google matched the real term to your bid term using “broad match”.

It is possible to get the real search term to be shown in Analytics, and therefore to look at the performance of the real keyword using the metrics available within Analytics, (e.g. Bounce Rate, Time on Site, Goals and Ecommerce). This is done using a custom filter for Analytics. This will rewrite the campaign term to show both the bid term and the real search term in brackets:

Real search keyword filter for Google Analytics

As you can see, often the bid term is the same as the real search term, but sometimes it is not. In the example above, the 4 entries for ‘Clinicians’ would normally be combined into a single entry for that keyword.

You can use this information to adjust your Adwords campaign, for example you can add additional keywords into the Adwords account (e.g. “new zealand clinicians” shown above) and depending on the ROI of the keywords you could adjust the bids or even prevent the ads being shown for a particular variant if that didn’t convert well.


First of all, remember, as with all filters for Analytics, make sure you test the filter out on a test profile, and always have a Raw profile to which no filters are applied.

This requires 2 custom filters …

1. This filter restricts the data to CPC / PPC traffic only, using a Custom -> Include filter. If this filter were not in place then natural search traffic would also have a second keyword added, and this would always be exactly the same as the first one. The details are:

Filter Type: Custom Filter -> Include
Filter Field: Campaign Medium
Filter Pattern: (cpc|ppc)

Real search keyword filter in Analytics

2. This filter extracts the real search term out of the referrer string and also extracts the campaign term (the bid keyword) and then it writes both the bid keyword and the real search term back into the campaign term. The details are:

Filter Type: Custom Filter -> Advanced
Field A -> Extract A: Referral: (?|&)(q|p|query|search)=([^&]*)
Field B -> Extract B: Campaign Term: (.*)
Output To -> Constructor: Campaign Term: $B1 ($A3)

Real search keyword filter in Google Analytics

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