Is the Google keyword threshold a blatant money grab?

Some of you may have heard that Google has removed low volume keywords from Google Ad reporting on 1 September 2020.  This may not seem like a very big deal, but for many advertisers, it will have far-reaching implications and significantly impact monthly spend.  So why did Google do it?  Was it just a blatant money grab? Many agencies and businesses think so.

What good is a low volume keyword?

If you’re not a Google Ad user, you might wonder why anyone would care about low volume or irrelevant keywords.  Isn’t the object to find the most relevant and high-volume keywords to drive more sales?

Finding your target, desirable keywords is only half the story.  Creating a ‘negative’ keyword list helps to further refine your market and ensures that you’re not wasting money on people who aren’t interested in your product or services. Every low volume click contributes to your ad spend and can quickly deplete your budget.

The fact that Google has removed this visibility into the search query limits an advertisers’ ability to get a complete overview on where their money is being spent, preventing proactive tweaking of ads and inhibiting keyword mining. In practical terms, this would be like painting half of your car windscreen black and saying that as long as you can see straight ahead, you’ll be ok. But we all know, it’s often the things you’re not seeing that can affect you and cause the greatest damage.

Google claims that the change is being made to comply with privacy thresholds, but most advertisers see it as another move to reduce overall transparency in the platform.  And since 15% of all daily Google searches (1 billion searches per day) are first-time queries, that is the amount of data we are losing sight of. These queries would be classified as irrelevant – low volume.

So, what can we do?

We can’t change or influence what Google is doing. So, we can only work with what we have and apply best practice.  Monitor your Google Ads at least twice per week to see if your terms are performing optimally and adjust your ads constantly to suit your audience. Even though you’re losing some of your available data, there is still plenty of insight that can be leveraged to target your market.

And, if you’ve not yet tried Bing – do.  Microsoft has made lots of modifications to their system to make the move much easier for Google Ad users.  They even have import functionality so that your Google Ad settings can be imported, saving you a lot of time.

Even if your customers are on Google, you can still see some low volume search and irrelevant terms using Bing that could be applied to your Google Ads.

Finally, be prepared for more changes.  Google is constantly updating its platform and we are likely to see modifications to comply with privacy extending much further than just Google Ads.