Several months ago, Google began providing far less transparency into the actual search terms that trigger our clients’ Google ads. In the past, Google provided a complete list of every search term that had resulted in a paid click. The report showed the search terms, the number of clicks, and the sponsored keyword that triggered the ad to appear for the click. Smart advertisers and agencies used this report often to find unwanted and irrelevant search terms that triggered wasted clicks to avoid paying for them in the future.
Now Google only shows search terms that have triggered “several” clicks. (They won’t disclose the number, and it seems to vary by account.) As a result, advertisers must now pay for the same bad clicks multiple times before they have a chance to block them in the future. Google claims this was changed for privacy reasons, but shouldn’t advertisers have insight into all the search terms that have triggered clicks on their Google ads? In fact, it would be helpful and save advertisers money to see all of the search terms that triggered impressions, because impressions without clicks contribute to lower Quality Scores.
By “dumbing down” the Search Terms report, Google has drastically reduced the ability of advertisers to use negative-match keywords to filter out unwanted search terms in order to save money on poor-quality impressions and clicks.
Despite the large number of recommendations Google provides within your Google Ads account, you will not find a single recommendation that helps you exclude or modify your keywords. On the contrary, it appears their recommendations are all geared toward getting you to spend more money for clicks.
Managing a negative keyword list has been an important part of optimizing a Google Ads account for almost two decades because it saves businesses from repeatedly paying for irrelevant clicks that will never convert. And Google – well, they would rather you not worry about that and just trust they are showing your ads where they should.
Unfortunately, without the search term data, an advertiser will have to do a lot of manual research, which is not as accurate as a Google-created report. One can use a third-party visitor tracking tool, but any tool must rely on Google to provide this data. We believe this change benefits Google at the expense of their advertisers.