Make Google Search Partners Work for You

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Google Search Partners

Perhaps, one of the biggest complaints for PPC marketers to Google AdWords is the lack of control of Google Search Partners. If you’re not familiar with what Google Search Partners are, it’s an additional collection of search engines and web pages such as,,,, etc.

In addition, Search Partners can include other web sites such as,, and  When you create a search campaign in Google AdWords, your ads are automatically added to Google’s Search Partner Network.

Google Search Partner Network Screenshot

How Can Search Partners Help My Campaign?

Currently, AdWords does allow you to segment performance by Search Partners if you’ve opted to target them. This is the first step you should take when determining what you should do next. If the performance is comparable to Google Search, then I wouldn’t make any changes.

Google SP Screenshot #2


AdWords only allows advertisers to include or exclude Google Search Partners. However; advertisers want the ability to see specific search partner performance (i.e. similar to placement reports in Google Display Network), the ability to exclude specific placements (i.e. placement exclusions), and the ability to target Search Partners separate from Google search (all of which Bing Ads gives us control over with their ‘syndicated partners’) in different campaigns or use bid modifiers in the same campaign which we’re able to do with mobile devices. Unfortunately, these options are not available at this time.

Now What?

So for the near future, if your performance is much worse for Google Search Partners in some of your campaigns and accounts, consider trying out the tips below before completely excluding all that volume.

Google SP Screenshot #3


  1. Always opt brand into search partners—then evaluate non-brand and make decisions
  2. Only opt exact and phrase match campaigns and ad groups into Search Partners. When search partners perform much worse than Google Search, more times than not; it’s the broad match keywords bringing to performance.
  3. Look at search partner performance by ad group. If ad group performs poorly for some search partners but not all, move the poorer performing ad groups into own campaign.
  4. Duplicate a campaign with Google Search only and opt this campaign into Search Partners. However; decrease bids by 50-75% to ensure you’re not competing with your Google Search only campaign. Search partners almost ALWAYS have cheaper CPC’s.

If none of the tricks above work, then your last resort is to exclude the Google Search Partners completely and focus your budgets on Google Search. Again, definitely look at a campaign by campaign basis when performing this analysis. In our screenshot above, Search Partners is approximately 22% of clicks received and 19% of conversions for that particular campaign. Excluding Search Partners from this campaign would definitely have a substantial impact to our results.

How are you dealing with Google Search Partners? Do you notice Search Partners perform better or worse for eCommerce accounts vs. lead generation accounts?

Image Credit:
Screenshots taken from Google 1/13/14
Featured image – under license

Joe Castro
Joe Castro is the Director of Online Advertising at Fathom, a digital marketing & analytics agency. He has worked at Fathom since January 2008 with... Read Full Bio
Joe Castro
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  • I haven’t delved into Google Search Partners as part of my marketing plans yet. Now, that you’ve given me some really great information about it I’ll definitely start looking into it. Thanks!

    • Hi Joseph,

      Thanks so much for reading. If you’re already using AdWords, make sure you’re not opted into Search Partners which you are by default. I’d say they are definitely worth testing for sure. Good luck :)!

  • Thanks Joe for excellent post on Google search partners. You have shared a important thing to look forward. I’ll also gonna check more on it. Keep sharing great stuff.

    • John, thank you for the comment and glad you enjoyed the information on Google search partners!

  • Whenever I load this page I get a number (up to 4 !!) advertising videos blaring out !!!
    Are you guys seriously trying to scare readers away?
    There is no way I can read this in the office.

    • Hi Ian, We don’t have any videos set to auto play. Can you let me know which ones you are talking about so I can make sure this isn’t happening? Please feel free to email me directly at kelsey (at) or just respond to this comment.

      Thanks Ian!

  • Sifalio

    And if you spend a few millions a year… You might get a nice gesture from your google rep… Which will decrease your total number of impressions in search partners (…if you can read between the lines…) But you really need good relationships with your rep… But duplicating excluding partners is the best solution so far. Great reults and great control. Control… That thing that big G doesn’t like to give you…

  • Bronwyn Vourtis

    Don’t forget, two areas of Search Partners that you do have some control over, is to opt out of your search ads showing on Parked Domains and Error Pages. Some ppl find this traffic converts well, but for the most part I have always found it a drain on adwords budget.

    Unfortunately though, they do make you jump thru hoops in order to access the settings to do this.

  • Hi Joe,

    We’ve actually had search partners perform better over the past few months for a client. It stands to reason that the quickest gain would be to spend more on the search partners … or at least it would be worth testing it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem we can control this. Irrespective of bid, the ads aren’t being placed at the “top”, where they convert well, as frequently as in Google.

    It’s pretty silly that they don’t let us customize for search partners. In this case, it would make sense to pay them more money …. :\