When it comes to paid search, knowing your way around an Excel spreadsheet is crucial. Regardless of your account size, digging into your data cannot be done without some know-how. Whether you are building out a new campaign, fine-tuning your keyword lists or analyzing monthly performance, it all takes a lot of time.

Luckily, with the help of a few Excel tips and tricks, you can shave down time-consuming tasks so time can be spent where it matters most. We pulled together a list of five of the handiest (and possibly most underrated) Excel tips to help you succeed in paid search:

1. Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting lets you do exactly what you might think – format a cell or group of cells based on a given condition. Not only is this one of the simplest tricks to learn, it’s also one of the handiest. Its uses are endless when it comes to paid search optimization and analysis.

How It Works:

  1. Highlight the cells that you would like to format (this could be a whole column, row, or a single cell)
  2. Select “New Rule” in the conditional formatting drop-down menu
  3. Select a Rule Type
  4. Add in your values and preferred formatting (red text for low performers, green font for top performers, etc.)
  5. Press “Ok”

Favorite Uses:

  • Identifying duplicate keywords across your account (Use the “Format only unique or duplicate values” Rule Type)
  • Highlighting top performing or low performing keywords (Use the “Format only cells that contain” Rule Type)

2. LEN Formula

The LEN function automatically calculates the character count in a given cell, making it one of the most useful tools for writing ad copy.

How It Works:

  1. Create a table in Excel with two columns – one for your ad copy and another for the character counts
  2. In the first row of the second column, add in the formula – =LEN(cell)
  3. Copy the formula and paste into each of the other rows in the second column

Favorite Uses:

  • Monitoring headline and description lengths when writing ad copy

3. Text to Columns

This feature allows you to split the values from a single cell into multiple columns based on a single identifier (spaces, slashes, dashes, etc.).

How It Works:

  1. Select a single cell or set of cells
  2. Find and select “Text to Columns” in the Data tab
  3. Choose the data type – delimited or fixed width – and click “Next” (Tip: If you want to parse your data based on spaces, select “Fixed Width” and click “Finish” to skip the remaining steps)
  4. Select your delimiter (tab, spaces, comma, etc.) and click “Next”
  5. Change the format of your data from “General” (if you wish) and click “Finish”

Favorite Uses:

  • Parsing URLs to identify parameters being used (Select “Delimited” as a data type and use a question mark as a delimiter)
  • Splitting long tail keywords into single keywords (Select “Fixed Width” as the data type)

4. Concatenate

Serving the opposite purpose of text to columns, concatenate allows you to group multiple cells into one single cell. This makes a task like combining multiple keywords together especially simple.

How It Works:

  1. In the cell where you would like your data to appear, add in the formula “=CONCATENATE(cell1, cell2,…)
  2. After the parentheses, add in the values you would like to group together, separated by a comma
  3. Press “Enter”

Favorite Uses:

  • Combining a URL with a parameter you have created (create a column for each and concatenate them in a new column)
  • Adding match types to your keywords (create a column of match type signifiers and concatenate them with your keywords)

5. Find and Replace

Find and Replace is easily one of the most underrated Excel functions. With a couple clicks, you can replace thousands of values – saving you some serious time.

How It Works:

  1. Click “Find & Select” in the upper right-hand corner of your spreadsheet
  2. Type the value you would like to find (“Find What”) and the value you would like to replace it with (“Replace with”)
  3. Select “Find All” to preview what values were found
  4. Select “Replace All” to replace all values in the spreadsheet

Favorite Uses:

  • Replacing a single keyword with a different keyword or synonym
  • Replacing match type signifiers
  • Removing extra spaces from a keyword
  • Updating and/or appending URLs

By adding these Excel tips and tricks to your repertoire, you’ll save plenty of time that you can now devote to optimizing those paid search campaigns!

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