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Understanding AdWords Session-Based Keywords

Session-based matches began showing up on Search Query Reports recently and have led to a number of questions from clients and Google AdWords Training Course students.

So what are session-based keywords?

Google says:

“When determining which ads to show on a Google search result page, the AdWords system evaluates some of the user’s previous queries during their search session as well as the current search query. If the system detects a relationship, it will show ads related to these other queries, too.”

So this means that, assuming there aren’t more relevant ads to show for these later searches, Google will show your ad instead. Mostly, I would imagine that this doesn’t happen too often – most of the time, there will be other people bidding on the secondary terms.

Example: you’re bidding on “car tyres” and the user searches for “car tyres“; it shows your ad. However, the user then qualifies their search further, “peugeot car tyres“, which shows your Peugeot Car Tyres ad. The user hasn’t clicked yet and now searches for “peugeot 406 1.9 diesel 2004“. You’re not bidding on this because it isn’t relevant enough to your market, and neither is anyone else (except maybe ebay et al.)

At this point, Google shows your car tyres ad again because at some point in the search session, the user did type in your keyword. Google feels that they are still searching the same theme and your ads are still relevant, so it shows them.

Should I bid on session based keywords?

You shouldn’t necessarily bid on these keywords, only if they are specifically relevant.

Can I switch off Session-Based keywords?

No. There is no option to do this, but like expanded keyword matching, it does only work with broad match keywords.

Why do Session-Based keywords have such a high CTR on the Search Query Report?
It is important to understand the context of this measurement. Remember that the Search Query Report only reports data for keywords that have generated clicks – it won’t show you data for session-based matches which have shown your ads, but not generated a click, hence the high CTR.

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