Google Ads is limiting data available in search terms report

Search terms report

Google Ads has announced the introduction of a limitation in data available in search terms report. The new restriction is effective from september and will affect all markets worldwide. As a result of this limitation, Google is offering more privacy for users but less data for advertisers.

Start Will Start Hiding Some Search Query Data In Search Terms Report

On September 1st, Google announced that it began to reduce the number of search terms available to advertisers in the search term report.

A notice appear in the alert section, when accessing the account.

Changes to the search terms report alert
Changes to the search terms report alert

When you click on the ‘”Learn More” a new page in Google Ads support section appear. You will find some explanation related to the announcement.

Search terms limitations announcement
New search terms limitations announcement

What does the search terms report update means for advertisers?

Unfortunately, this is a bad news for advertisers. In addition to give them less control over the terms their ads appear for – due to keywords match types updates, Google is now hiding what terms their ads are showing for.

Data volume shared with advertisers will henceforth be limited. Users will no longer have access to queries that do not receive sufficient search volume – even if these keywords get them paid traffic. Google does not specify from what threshold queries will be included in the report.

For small budget advertisers, this is also a very bad news. Most of them use the search terms report to find niche opportunities (long tail) where they can invest softly. They also rely on the search term report to set their negative keywords.

But this news also impacts bid advertisers who base their campaigns on a large number of keywords.

Paid search experts are reporting a data loose for 30 to 50% of ad spend.

More privacy for users

Users can thank Google, since this decision strengthens their privacy.

But frankly, how often have you come across search terms that would have identified someone? For me, this argument does not hold water !

Also, Google’s relationship with professionals is far from transparent. Companies pick more and more smart-bidding and other automated features like Responsive Search Ads – without any choice.

Given the position of Google, they find their selfs forced to trust it for their paid search budget. At the same time, analysing performance in detail becomes complicated with the new data restriction.

Search terms report limitations – What Now?

Ten years after the release of the “not provided” for SEO, almost a year after consolidating synonyms on keyword planner. Now Google is blocking professionals to access long tail keyword data.

As next step, i would recommend you:

1 – Check your account

First, thing you should do is to run an analysis to know how much of a data loss you are experiencing in your account(s). I recommend you also to communicate this to you client. Of course include what actions you will take as a result to this data loos in the search terms report.

2 – Adjust your budgets

In some cases, where the data loss is penalising the business, it would make sense to reduce broad match keywords targeting budget. For some business i would not recommend this – example in automotive, hotels, restaurants … as the objective is having leads (via traffic).

3 – Negative keyword management

Having less control over the search queries that trigger ads, you need to switch your keyword optimisation approach from a positive keyword management to a negative keyword management.

4 – Invest elsewhere

This should be the moment for you to consider investing in other platforms. If in your country, Bing networks has even a 3% market share, do not hesitate to increase your investments there – especially since the cost per conversions is very low compared to that on Google. Of course you will not have the same volume of traffic or conversions as Google. But at least you don’t have a blackout on 30 or 50% of your ad spent.

5 – Do not despair

Remember when there was the famous “not provided”, did SEO’s stop working? No – it’s quite the opposite. The SEO community continued to work and relied on other sources of data (SEMrush, Ahrefs…)

6 – Think about an SEO / SEA synergy

SEO and SEA synergy becomes more and more important.

If your paid search landing page ranks well in organic results, you can extract the search terms from the Google Search Console to discover new relevant keywords opportunities.

Search terms report update – Conclusions

Google is gradually withdrawing what made the indirect value of Google As platform: the feedback of data that allows better knowledge of the market.

This last restriction confirms Google’s desire to further promote automation through smart-bidding. Unfortunately we have to trust Google – Blind trust (literally) !

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