Google’s Search Network – both a blessing and a curse to PPC managers worldwide. While this group of “search-related websites” can deliver a great return on investment, the lack of transparency over exactly where ads appear leads many to simply opt out, and so miss out on the potential rewards.

So I was thrilled last December to come across the excellent post “How to Improve Your Google Search Partners PPC Performance” by Matthew Buckley at Epiphany. At last, someone was finally laying bare the secrets to discovering once and for all which Search partners show your ads!

But this advice is focussed on the old Analytics and new Analytics is here to stay, so even though Matt’s post is only a few months old, it’s already due an update. Essentially the process is still the same – you need to create a filter to access search partner data – it’s where you find the data that’s changed.

Create Your Analytics Filter

You need to create a filter that’s going to sift your Search Partner information out for you. If you’ve never done this before, try reading the Google Analytics article on creating a filter to help you understand the process.

Note: You may want to create a new profile in your Analytics account just for this filtered data so you will still have access to your raw data. If you go down this route, down forget to copy all the settings from your main profile – most importantly setting goals and applying AdWords cost data.

Create a Custom filter, using the settings in the picture below:

Settings for the custom filter to display Search Partner data

Those Settings are:

Filter Type: Custom filter

Advanced

Field A -> Extract A: Select Referral from drop down menu and type (//)([^/]*) into the box

Field B -> Extract B: No change

Output To -> Constructor: Select User Defined from drop down menu and type $A2 into the box

Field A Required: Yes

Field B Required: No

Override Output Field: Yes

Case Sensitive: No

Click Save and your filter should be up and running. Filters cannot work on historical data, so you’ll need to sit back and wait for the data to come rolling in. How long you need to wait for statistically significant figures will depend on the size of your account.

Finding Your Search Partner Data

Here’s where we start to see a difference from Matt’s description of the process. Now that AdWords data appears under Advertising instead of Traffic Sources you cannot access your User Defined Value data through the AdWords reports.

Here’s the new route to your Search Partner data: Under Traffic Sources, select Sources > Search > Paid and select either the Ecommerce report or the appropriate Goal Set report for enquiry-seeking campaigns. Set your Primary Dimension to Other > User Defined Value, as in the image below:

Primary Dimension > User Defined Value

You’ll now have access to a list of all sites that your ads appear on.

Note: If you also advertise through any other PPC platform, you should select the Secondary dimension Source. Use the advanced filter to include Source data containing “google” to be certain that you are only looking at your AdWords traffic.

It’s only a small change from the old method, but it could mean the difference between improving your Search Partner performance and feeling like you wasted your time.

Talk to Google

Now that you have your reports, the most important thing is to use it to improve your performance. Analyse whether there are any high spenders that have to go and pull together evidence to support your conclusions.

Whether you have a dedicated rep or simply need to contact the help team, the staff are pretty responsive. To make life easier on yourself, grant support access to Google before you send them your findings. To do this simply:

  1. In Analytics, at the top right of the browser, click the Settings link.
  2. Select the check box for Allow Google Support to access my accounts when I report issues.
  3. Click Save User Settings.

It’s still early days for us, but we’ve already weeded out some under performing Search Partners using this technique.

Good luck!