7 Tips To Deal With Google’s Search Term Changes

On September 1, Google began limiting the number of search terms advertisers could view within the search term report. This has obviously caused an uproar with advertisers as this report is incredibly important in making sure you are paying for quality clicks.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely Google will reverse this decision and we as advertisers will need to adapt. After talking with our team and strategizing with clients, I’ve listed seven tips below that you can use to deal with the decreased visibility in the search term report.

1. Determine the loss of search term visibility in your account

Last month, I wrote a post that looked at the impact of Google’s reduction in search term visibility for one of my clients. I think it’s important to understand the exact impact of this change in order to know how much this may need to change your overall strategy.

Optmyzer has created a helpful script you can run in your account to see the amount of unidentified search terms based on a metric of your choosing. This will let you easily see how big the changes are for your account.

Here’s an example of the results from one of my accounts.

I plan to run this monthly to see if there is any change in the percentage of unknown search terms overtime.

2. Reduce bids on broad match or modified broad match keywords

The broader the match type, the more search terms a keyword will match to. To make sure you have more control over what search terms are triggering your ads, you can reduce bids for broad match types while increasing bids for phrase and exact.

We’ve been closely monitoring performance of the broad match keywords in our account since this change. For any where we’ve seen CPA creeping up we’ve pulled back in bids and even paused a few keywords that seem to be most impacted.

3. Add broad match negative keywords

Since you won’t be able to review as many search terms as you used to for potential negative keywords, you need to add negatives in a way that will block a wider range of irrelevant searches.

For example, if we see a search term phrase where there is one word in the phrase we know doesn’t apply to our keywords, we’ll add that one term as a broad match negative instead of the whole phrase.

You will want to be careful and make sure you aren’t going too broad with your exclusions where you are potentially blocking relevant terms, but we’re definitely adding more broad match negatives now than we did before this change.

4. Add negative keyword misspellings and variants proactively

Not only are we using broad match with negative keywords more frequently, we’re also adding misspellings and close variants of any terms at the same time. Remember, broad match negative keywords will not block misspellings and close variants on their own.

For example, if we want to add the negative keyword ‘picture’ you should also add in ‘pictures’, ‘pics’, and any other closely related variants you can think of so you are proactively blocking these searches.

5. Use other ad platforms to find negative keywords

At this point, it doesn’t look like Microsoft Ads has reduced visibility of their search term reports. For any ad platforms that offer search term reports, you should be adding any negative terms you find in those reports to Google as well. This was always a good practice, but is especially important now.

6. Use keyword research tools to find negative keywords

Normally, you’re using keyword research tools to find new keywords to add to your account but they can also help you uncover negative keywords. You can enter in relevant keywords or your site URL into the keyword planner and review the recommendations for any keyword you wouldn’t want to show for and add those to your account as negatives.

7. Try out Smart Bidding

I think it’s obvious that Google wants advertisers to use more automated options within their ad accounts. I always like to try new features, but definitely have mixed results when testing auto versus manual options.

Since Smart Bidding tools use machine learning to optimize for conversions it might be worth testing them in your campaigns since you’ll now have less insight into what your ads are actually showing for. If performance does improve based on your KPIs when using Smart Bidding then you’ll hopefully be less impacted negatively by the reduced search term visibility.


These seven tips are some of the strategies we’ve been using to deal with the reduced search term visibility in Google.

Do you have any additional tips? If so, let us know in the comments below!

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