Google Is Changing Their Search Term Reports. How Does This Affect You?


If you’re anything like us at Market Vantage, you spend a great deal of time refining what keywords you and your clients are sponsoring in Google Ads and how much you’re bidding for them. We do everything we can to maximize conversions, and any indication that clicks for a given term aren’t converting is cause for an adjustment, even for the rare client with such high traffic and ad spend that they don’t miss a few wasted dollars. For this, we rely heavily on Google’s search term reports.

That’s why Google’s recent alteration to their reports is so alarming: they have announced that going forward, their reports will only include “terms that were searched by a significant number of users.”  

Why Is Google Doing This? 

Per Google’s statement, it was “to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data.” The purpose seems to be keeping advertisers from seeing small-scale query data that could be used to identify users. 

As pointed out, “Google already limits query data in Search Console for this reason. The difference, of course, is advertisers pay whenever a user clicks on an ad triggered by a users’ query. The loss of this data could have real financial implications for advertisers. Advertisers won’t know what we can’t see.”

The short answer: nobody but Google knows exactly what “significant” entails. They haven’t told us, and they’re not likely to, although hopefully we’ll get a clearer idea as the change rolls out. All we know is that as advertisers, our degree of precision in judging the efficacy of a keyword will be reduced. Often, the keywords that perform the best and bring the most qualified leads for clients are ones that don’t have a great deal of search volume. For instance, if you offer a very specific product or service and only want your ads to show for this specific type of search, Google might deem the search low-frequency and hide the search terms.  

Maintaining a Google Ads account requires frequently checking which keywords you’re paying for and adding unwanted ones to a negatives list. This change will undoubtably make it more difficult to determine when low-volume keywords are wasting money, reducing the efficacy of your campaigns and furthering Google’s goal of removing third parties entirely from their platform.  

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