Google AdWords Filters and How to Use Them

Google AdWords Filters and How to Use Them

29th March 2012

It seems like a long time ago now that Google AdWords introduced filters to their browser environment and I want to spend some time in this post going through some of the filters that should be set up and used for all campaigns.

For those of you who don’t know about AdWords filters, they are available at campaign, ad group, keyword and ad text level and they can help you to identify any problems areas that may require attention.

Applying a filter is easy, just follow these steps

1)       Login to your Google AdWords Account

2)       Select which tab you wish to filter (campaign, ad group, keyword or ads)

3)       Click on the Filter menu which is situated above your statistics table

4)       Click Create Filter

5)       Select the parameters (more on this later in this post)

6)       When you are finished creating your filter, simply click Apply

The table of statistics will automatically update to show you the data that matches the chosen parameters in the filter. The filter will be carried across to all tabs so if you want to revert back to looking at all data, you will need to click Close in the filter panel.

Custom Filters

There are a number of custom filters that I would recommend setting up on all AdWords Accounts that you manage to help you speed up the optimisation process. The most annoying thing for me is that if you create and save a filter in one of your managed AdWords Accounts, there currently isn’t an option to copy this across to another account. All filters have to be added multiple times if you want them in all your accounts.

One thing to remember is that when you start using the filtering options, you should save the ones that you use most frequently so that you don’t need to keep creating them each time you optimise the account.

To save a filter, follow the above steps but hit Save Filter at the end. This will store them in each section for future use.

First up I am going to provide you with a list of the filters that can be used and then give you some examples of filters that you should be using.

Campaign Filters

If you have a lot of campaigns in an account, the filters at campaign level can be very useful. They aren’t so useful if you just have a few campaigns. The following filters are good to use with lots of campaigns.


This filter should be used to filter out active campaigns generating a low number of conversions with a high spend.

Conversion Value

This filter should be used to uncover the ROI of your campaigns. By filtering on the total value of your conversions vs. the actual cost you can see which of your campaigns are delivering the best return for you. Likewise, you can switch this around to uncover the poorest performing campaigns.

Invalid Clicks

Some campaigns are more prone to invalid clicks and this filter will highlight this for you. You can set the number of invalid clicks that you want to check against and see which campaigns drive the most.

Ad Group Filters

In my opinion, this is where the filtering starts becoming the most useful as you can quickly drill down into which ad groups are working for you and which aren’t. Additionally, you can filter ad groups to see which ones need more work to help improve the performance of your campaigns.

Lack of Impressions

This is the first filter that I run when optimising a campaign as I can get rid of ad groups that have not generated any impressions. Remember to use a timeframe that you are comfortable with, as looking at data for the past week will not give you enough time to work with.

Lack of Traffic

To understand which ad groups aren’t driving me enough traffic, I would look at running two separate filters. The first will highlight ad groups that have very few impressions and zero traffic, whilst the second will highlight ad groups that haven’t had any traffic but the impressions are there.

Using the above filter, once I have the segmented results these would be ad groups that I would most likely pause to help improve the overall CTR on the campaign. A lot of people don’t consider a CTR of 0.00% to be damaging, but I would suggest otherwise. You want your campaign to be filled with performing ad groups, and those generating a poor CTR are not going to be performing for you.

The second filter I would typically run is shown below and it will highlight those ad groups that have potential of driving me traffic, even though they haven’t done so far. The filter will show me all the ad groups that have had more than 30 impressions, have delivered no traffic but the average position is worse than three. From this filter, I would look at increasing my ad group bid prices to boost the average position slightly and entice more traffic.

High Cost, Low Conversions

A quick win on any campaign is to understand where you can be saving money. Some ad groups will drive you a lot of traffic but no conversions and this is something that all advertisers should be on top of. I have filtered all ad groups that have cost me more than £100 but not generated any conversions.

From this, you will want to look at the keywords you are bidding on and analyse the landing pages as you may be able to turn the ad group performance round by tweaking a few things. Once you have made the tweaks, leave it to run for a short time longer before running the filter again. If you still haven’t had any conversions, it may be a good time to stop the ad group from running.

Low Average Position

If you are looking to get as much traffic through from your AdWords campaigns as possible, it is best to have your ads appear in the top three positions. Ads that appear on the right-hand side are less likely to receive the bulk of the traffic.

Setting up a filter to uncover all ad groups that have a low average position is easy, but just remember that you want to look at a shorter timeframe as you may have already increased bids in a previous month.

Specific Ad Groups

There will be times when you just want to look at a specific group of ad groups. For example, if you are a mountain bike retailer you may have 10 ad groups all related to a similar type of model that you want to view the statistics for. These two filters allow you to do just that. You can either choose to view all ad groups containing a certain phrase or you can select specific ad groups from a list.

Keyword Filters

The filtering options for keywords and ad groups are pretty similar, so all the filters that I have discussed above can and should be applied at keyword level. However, there are a few others that you should also be using.

Low Search Volume

Google mark-up keywords that predominately have a low search volume, making it easy for you to make your keyword list more manageable. There is no point having a campaign full of keywords that are not going to drive you any traffic.

Below First Page Bid

Although you can run filters at ad group level to highlight groups with a low average position, a keyword level filter for keywords below the first page bid will often yield faster results as you can see exactly how much you need to increase bids to.

Keywords Excluded Due to Negatives

This has to be one of my favourite filters at keyword level as it helps eradicate human error. How many times have you created a campaign backfilled with thousands of negatives, only to find that you have added one of your positive keywords in as a negative so the campaign hasn’t run? Annoying isn’t it!

The Excluded keyword filter will show you which keywords are not currently showing due to a negative keyword blocking it.

Quality Score

The Quality Score of a keyword is one of most important factors that Google looks at when determining where to show your ad in the paid search results so it is vital that you work on improving your scores. By filtering down the keywords with a low Quality Score this will show you where you need to focus your attention.


Ad Text Filters

The announcement that Google made last year about the importance of reviewing disapproved ads, even if they are paused, has made filtering at ad text level even more valuable. Ad group and keyword level filters are similar at ad text level and they should be used but the one most important filter for me is Approval Status.

Approval Status

Running a filter to group together all your disapproved ads is the best way to ensure that you get all ads together so you can review and amend them.

Ad Text Containing Certain Phrase

If you have been running a promotion and need to go through and update all ads that contain a certain word, phrase or price this can easily be done using this filter.

Destination URL

When I have been optimising AdWords Accounts there have been a number of times that the client has come to me saying that they have stopped showing a certain product or service on their website. Using the Destination URL filter, you can find all ads that are pointing to the old landing page and update them retrospectively.


This blog post contains a few filters that I would recommend using when you are optimising any AdWords Account. Obviously there are a lot more filters that you could set up and use, but it is just a case of playing around with the options and working out what is best for the business you are working on.

If you do have any questions or comments, please feel free to either get in touch with me directly or leave a reply on this post.


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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