October 10, 2021 by Octavia Drexler | 4 min reading time

Google Ads search terms used to be a pretty basic element in the whole ad creation process. In fact, it was integral for ad campaigns and for understanding a user’s journey based on what a user searched for. Search terms were a reliable way to tweak your marketing strategy while gathering relevant data needed to create the perfect ad campaign. So why is Google trying to fix something that isn’t broken? 

What Happened to Google Ads Search Terms Data? 

Some marketers were blindsided when Google announced that, as of September 2020, the Google Ads search terms report will only include terms that a large number of users searched for, even if other, less popular terms received a click, which means that marketers will see fewer terms in their reports. 

Advertisers, agencies, and marketers rely on Google Ads search terms reports in order to optimize their Google Ads performance. For instance, this data can be used to identify new search terms to add to your keywords list, to build a negative keyword list, and to identify the best match type for particular keywords. 

More broadly, this ensures that you as a marketer are allocating your budget properly and not wasting ad spend on useless keywords. 

In this way, Google is making it harder for marketers to understand their customers. Instead of helping marketers gain a nuanced understanding of their customer journey, Google is now lumping data together.

By focusing on word popularity instead of the user journey, it becomes harder to specifically market your products for a target audience. Further, it will become a race against time - and money - to use these popular words. If every marketer on the planet is bidding on the same word, marketing becomes more expensive and less valuable. 

...And Why Is This a Problem? 

This might not seem like a problem at first - low-volume, irrelevant keywords aren’t important and they will eat your ad spend, right? But every irrelevant click also wastes your ad spend and low-volume terms can contribute to this as well. 

These search terms are essential to Google Ads optimization, which goes beyond just a monetary problem. The change in search terms can inhibit your marketing campaign, which can lead to big leaks in spending. Furthermore, it renders keyword mining more difficult and board match becomes practically unusable. 

Lower bidding and reduced conversion rates are other side effects of this change, which results in a severe profit loss. These changes can also hinder the ability to create keyword ad groups, which can severely impact the efficacy of Google Ads. 

The Future of Google Ads Search Terms 

Where does the change in search terms lead us, then? Well, marketers definitely don’t like the change. Though Google believes this change is a way to improve privacy, advertisers feel as though this is a selfish move on Google’s part. Not only does it limit the power of advertisers, but it also reduces transparency. For such a big platform, Google can’t afford to keep things from their user base. It’s simply not fair and quite unethical. 

Finally, marketers are worried that, by removing Google Ads search terms, Google is trying to give advertisers less control over their campaigns. The shift to auto bids, auto ads, and keyword-less bidding poses a challenge for ad campaigns and advertisers who have to re-work their strategies and re-budget their money to work around Google’s restrictions. 

With that said, advertisers shouldn’t worry that this change will interfere with their practices. Google’s data can still help users optimize their ad campaigns through the utilization of negative keywords. Data is valuable no matter the form it comes in - even if you don’t have a lot of search terms data, it’s still possible to make the most out of your ad campaigns. 

Conclusion 

As Google implements the latest Google Ads search terms changes, marketers now have less control over how their money is being spent by Google. Google is getting more controlling, and advertisers are continuously having to adapt to narrowed-down options in order to get their money's worth. Google is narrowing down targeting options, hiding important information from advertisers, and gaining too much control over cookie data.