Back in September 2020, Google Ads changed their search queries so that searches without a “significant” amount of data will no longer show in search query reports. This ultimately reduced visibility in Google Ad campaigns and caused concern amongst agencies & advertisers who rely on the reports to optimize their campaigns performance. Unfortunately, the announcement offers no further explanation on what would be considered “significant”.
Google did provide a follow up statement that does very little to provide additional information on what the change will involve:
“In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We’re continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions.” – Google statement
Citing privacy reasons, advertisers no longer have full visibility into all the searches for which their ads appear in Google search results.
How Did Google Change The Search Terms Report?
Well, on September 1st, 2020, Google announced that later that month, the report would only now contain search terms that had a “significant” number of users search. This created a loss of visibility & loss of control.
Loss of Visibility & Control
The initial reaction I had to this was skepticism and frustration as I felt this would negatively impact clients that have high CPC’s such as personal injury lawyers. This made me feel as if I no longer had somewhat control over my client’s campaigns. Afterall, Google’s change to make exact match not exactly “exact match” anymore led to endless frustration on my end.
Given the recent changes to keyword match types, it’s likely that many advertisers will find some of these searches irrelevant to their business and would rather not target those terms. For example, I have a fumigation ad group running separately than an extermination ad group. I am seeing exterminator search terms for exact match fumigation keywords showing up as “close variants” and I have 6 search terms I have no search query data on.
Last year, Google’s Search business was hit pretty hard by advertisers cutting back on their spend due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as we can see in the last quarter, Google saw a huge uptick in revenue. I’d like to think this wasn’t Google’s way of making up for lost revenue, but in my opinion, it’s kind of impossible for me not to think Google is trying to make up for the loss in Q2.
Recommendations To Navigate Google Ads Search Terms Report Change
There still remains a lot of unanswered questions around the change to the Google Ads search terms report. What exactly defines “significant?” How will this affect the paid search trends overall? We will stay on top of any new updates that may further help you figure out the best way to proceed moving forward. In the meantime, try out the recommendations we’ve outlined in this post:
- Continue optimizing your PPC Campaigns
- Utilize the Bing search query report
- Create Dynamic Search Ads to find new keywords
- Try Smart Bidding to optimize for “hidden” search terms
- Broaden your PPC skillset