On the 2nd of September 2020, Google Ads made an announcement that upset a lot of advertisers, it said that, “Starting September 2020, the search terms report will only include terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click.”
The paid search community has been very upset by this and so should you if your business advertises on Google Ads. Here’s why.
What is the Search Terms Report and Why Use it?
The Search Terms report is a great report that shows you the exact terms that people searched for when they saw and clicked your ads. It’s a goldmine of information to help you understand if you’re showing your ads on the right searches or not.
Ideally, you should review this report regularly to identify terms that are generating paid clicks but that you don’t want to advertise on so you can add them to your negative keywords list. This ensures your budget is spent on clicks by potential customers, not visitors looking for something else entirely and is vital to avoid wasting money.
However, this report can also give you ideas on what keywords to target if you see people are searching for terms that you didn’t think about. Although it won’t give you fresh new ideas, as it’s only showing terms that will match your keywords, it can be helpful to target more granular keywords and potentially improve your ROI.
What the New Limits Mean for your Business… and your Spend?
Google Ads is saying that they will effectively withdraw this information on terms with lower volumes of searches, even if a user clicked on your ad. This announcement was highly criticised for being too vague because they don’t define what “significant” means, which can be very subjective depending on the size of your ads account.
If you’re advertising on niche terms with low volumes, you might completely lose the ability to view the search terms report and so won’t be able to identify waste. If you’re a larger advertiser with a big budget, you might waste a lot of money on irrelevant terms without even knowing it. In both cases, a proportion of your spend is probably going to be wasted without you being able to do anything about it.
You might think that you can avoid this by switching all your keywords to exact match. However, this might not work since Google Ads has been opening up its phrase and exact matches to include close variants. Exact match no longer means your keywords will show for the exact term, but Google could show your ads for close variants which can be synonyms or variation of a word.
What can your Business Do About it?
To be perfectly honest, there’s not much you can do within Google Ads. Keep reviewing your search terms report regularly and try to think of obvious negative keywords to apply to your campaigns. Performing keyword research can help identify negative keywords that you might not have thought of.
Outside of Google Ads, we strongly recommend investing in various channels to avoid putting all your eggs in the same Google Ads basket. Investing in Search Engine Optimisation, email and social media (organic and paid) can help you diversify to avoid being too dependent on paid traffic.
This isn’t the first time Google has upset the digital marketing community. They have already reduced control and visibility over data by launching smart campaigns. However, this new move is a real blow for advertisers and the questions they’re asking as a result are legitimate. This decision will not only increase the waste in budget, but it will likely deteriorate the quality of search results for users. Indeed, as advertisers are not able to accurately remove irrelevant search terms with negative keywords, their ads will be showing for irrelevant searches which means users won’t have the right answers to their questions when searching on Google.
There is likely to be significant backlash about this new development and it will be interesting to see how Google respond, should they decide to do so.
Talk to us!
If you’d like to know more about this and how it will affect your paid search strategy, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of experts who would love to help you!