AdWords Editor’s Best Kept Secret: Formula Words

keyword.pngIf you have ever used Google’s AdWords Editor you know that it can save you a tremendous amount of time in making changes both big and small to your AdWords account. While most features of AdWords Editor are highly visible throughout the various menus and tabs, there is one hidden feature that can save you a tremendous amount of time and headache. This hidden feature is called Formula Words.

Formula Words are a great short cut in AdWords Editor that allow you to quickly find and replace the text of one editable field with the text of another editable field via the Replace Text tool. There are Formula Words available for the majority of editable fields in Editor including: campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and all fields associated with a text ad. The fields that can be edited with Formula Words vary based on the tab that is currently selected.


Here are a few examples of the Formula Words that are available in AdWords Editor and the format that is required for each one to work properly:

– Campaign text
– Ad group text
– Keyword text
– Headline text
– Description line 1 text
– Description line 2 text
– Display URL text
– Destination URL text

Since campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ad text generally have a common theme defined at the campaign level, there is usually a fair amount of overlap between the text used to build out each section. Instead of repeatedly typing the same thing over and over again, use Formula Words to quickly insert an ad group name into an ad headline, tag a destination URL with relevant campaign information or in any other instance where a particular value from one editable text field would be repeated in another editable field.

Here’s an example of how Formula Words can save you a significant amount of time in building out the keyword list of a new campaign with a quick find and replace:

Let’s say you are building a campaign around different types of chairs for sale on your website. Some of the different types of chairs available on your site include wood chairs and metal chairs. You also have several root keywords that will be used repeatedly in each ad group such as chair and chairs. Your initial campaign structure might look similar to the following:

Before - Formula Words Example.jpg

Now you want to qualify your root keywords with the type of chair (wood or plastic) in each respective ad group. From the keywords tab in Editor, select all keywords that need to be built out further and click the Replace Text tool. In the ‘Find text:’ field enter . Change the drop down menu to ‘keyword’. Then, enter into the ‘Replace with:’ field and click ‘Find Matches’ (Please note that spacing does matter in both the ‘Find text:’ and ‘Replace with:’ fields!).

replace_text.png

Editor will now look for the first keyword in your currently selected keyword list and replace it with the ad group name, a space and the value of the first keyword. Once the Replace Text tool has finished replacing all values in your current selection, your campaign and keyword list should look like this:

After - Formula Words Example.jpg

All keywords in the Chairs campaign are now built out to include the type of chair based on their ad group location. While our example only used two different types of chairs, imagine if you had several hundred ad groups that needed keywords built out in a similar manner. The use of Formula Words in this instance would save you a significant amount of time!

Keep in mind that there are a few instances where Formula Words cannot be used or may not provide you with the desired results. When using Formula Words, consider the following:

  • Formula Words only work in the Replace Text tool. They are not compatible with other features such as the Append Text tool or the Advanced URL Changes tool.
  • Be sure to select the appropriate drop down menu option in the Replace Text tool. If you are trying to replace the text of your ad headline with the Formula Word and the text of that ad headline is repeated in the description lines of your ad, the Replace Text tool will look for every instance of the headline text regardless of what part of the ad it is located in unless you choose the exact field you are editing from the drop down menu.
  • The Replace Text tool will not recognize Formula Words that are entered directly into editable text fields as words. For example, you cannot enter www.chairs.com/ into the Display URL text field and then use the Replace Text tool to find and replace it with the name of the campaign. If you’re trying to do this, it would be better to create a placeholder word for the replace tool to look for. For example, it would work if you entered www.chairs.com/placeholder into the Display URL text field and the use the Replace Tool to find placeholder and replace it with the different campaign names.

For additional examples of how to use Formula Words, check out Google’s Help Center article. If you have any examples of how Formula Words have helped you in the past please feel free to share below!