If you have ever created an Ad campaign with Google AdWords, some of it seems pretty straightforward right? You add keywords, most of which are suggested by Google, and then the idea is that when someone uses one or more of these keywords in their search, your ad appears on the page they are on. I mean, this is the way keywords and Google and the rest of the Internet work together right? Well, kinda but not exactly. Google is probably one of the most difficult platforms to understand and manipulate to your advantage, even if they offer you all kinds of help, like “free” consultations and so forth. And if you have ever looked at the “data” on one of your campaigns, it is like a different language. OK, so who are Google Search Partners? When you are creating your campaign, there is a place where you can include or exclude Google Search Partners. So, since you have no idea what this is, you click on Google help. This is what you get: “On our search partners, your ads can appear on search results pages, on site directory pages, or on other pages related to the person’s search.” What this ends up meaning is you have virtually no say or control where your traffic comes from. In short, traffic may come from anywhere; places you never imagined and not directly from the results of your key terms you added to your campaign. The fact is that these “other” pages, are often product pages at sites like Amazon, Target, or Walmart. If I Cannot Control My Traffic Should I Use Search Partners? The short answer is “yes”. Traffic is traffic no matter where it comes from; a search result page or a product landing page still delivers traffic. Search Partners tends to bring in about 20%-60% of clicks (and that is a lot). But this does not do much as far as your ability to control how people see your ad. If you want to run your own test, you can use the “segment” button in the “all campaigns” menu and segment by “network” (with Search Partners). Then use a pivot table that has rows entitled “campaigns”, columns entitled “network” and a custom formula for either CPA or ROAS as “values”. As you can see, there is not a big difference in CPA, and Search Partners is actually doing ok in several campaigns. Odd Search Terms Explained When you look at the data for a campaign, what is truly frustrating is that those keywords you added when you made your campaign do not seem to be showing up. Instead, you get odd search strings like “Totes umbrellas that are not plaid in clearance in Tulsa OK”. These oddities happen because they are the result of “search partner searches”. Google pulls information on the search terms used for people to get to the page your ad was on. Here is how you can follow along for your own account. Do a Search Term Report and filter out for “clicks= 0”. Then, do a sort by impressions and segment out by Search Partners. Optimizing Search Partner Settings Unless you want to spend a ton of time running reports trying to find out how people saw your ad, there are really only two things you can do right now. (1) Use negative keywords to remove poor performing search partner pages. (2) Turn search partners off entirely if the CPA/ROAS is bad. In a perfect world, Google would be more forthcoming about Search Partners. Right now, you cannot set up Search Partner only campaigns and Google does not look like it will allow this anytime soon.