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Advertisers have started being notified, that search terms report will be limited to terms that have significant searches and data. Ever since this update was noticed, PPCers have starting voicing their discomfort. From claims of it to be because of smart bidding to lack of transparency, here is what PPC experts around the globe are saying.

What’s changing?

Google is updating the search terms report to show fewer search terms. Starting September 2020, the report will exclude terms that were not searched by significant number of users.

Only time will give clarity on what ‘significant number of users’ means and what are the benchmarks followed.

In a statement given to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson explained:

“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,”

Here are the responses aggregated from Twitter:

For the new thing, Google mentions “a significant number of users” – so it’s not about impressions. Maybe there isn’t even a specific number of users but also something about how “private” or personally identifying a term is (which was always a factor). – @bloomarty

Yesterday, Google removed KW data from PAID campaigns, knowing advertisers have no choice but to stick with ’em. Sure, they’re showing your ads for irrelevant searches, but with 95%+ of the search market, where you gonna go? – @randfish

Probably in the minority: I’m conceptually fine with this, as long as the full suite is still available via API/n-grams. Playing whack-a-mole with every 1-impression 1-click query is counter productive. ..now if “significant” = 5+ clicks a day or something, we got a problem – @bigalittlea

This move is a kick in the face to small businesses, at a time when they’re hurting more than ever. Shame on you @GoogleAds & @Google – you didn’t used to be like this. – @tylerellisonppc

This has nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with making more money for Google. Continuing to take away visibility from advertisers who are paying for it. I guess Google just wants to turn into a tv network – @360vardi

Hey @GoogleAds, what’s this about? So we will be potentially paying for search terms tht are irrelevant but won’t be privy to the keywords we need to add as negatives? What’s the logic behind this please? Thanks. – @PPCRachel

If these other terms are insignificant then Google shouldn’t charge for them. When Google takes our money they should be 100% transparent and report every search query that was charged. – @Jehochman

Also i want search queries on smart shopping campaigns too! Why would they not want me to see, what exactly my customers were searching for? – @Maiglisreal

As long as we just use exact match we will be okay…oh wait nvmd It is what it is, it ain’t what it was – @chriskos

With the Google Ads announcement about stripping us of search terms report information, I wanted to look to see how this would impact our ability to optimize and what it would mean for our accounts. It’s HUGE. My dataset is 118,000 clicks, $120k in spend & 180 days. – @CJSlattery

There are 26,000 search terms in the search terms report. 25,600 have fewer than 10 clicks 25,000 have fewer than 5 clicks 20,000 have just 1 click. Of that $120,000 in ad spend over the last 180 days 10 click search terms: $61,000. 51% of budget 5 click search terms: $53,000. 44% of budget 1 click search terms: $36,000. 30% of our budget went to search terms that were clicked on just once. – @CJSlattery

It is entirely possible that we’re losing data for at least 51% of ad spend. At a minimum it’s going to be at least 30% of ad spend. Google taking this data away from us will have an absolutely staggering impact on accounts big and small. This is an absolutely outrageous. – @CJSlattery

And don’t forget in UK a 2% Google AdWords tax come November. It’s a bit like Cadbury’s making chocolate bars smaller then charging more for them (over and above sugar tax) – @_markblackburn

What? I didn’t hear of this yet. That is ridiculous. This is the low-lying fruit that has reduced a CPA from over $200 a lead to below $20 a lead for me in the past (with a new client). UGH. Terrible. – @steph_woods

@GoogleAds they are crooks. They need to be fined and investigated. They are constantly getting rid of features that ad managers need and forcing everyone to use their shady “smart bidding” which does not work and is horrible – @igor9928

Heard this today as well! Another way for Google to push advertisers into automation ! – @Lrizz729

Google smart search campaign la coming our way just as app campaigns … expected this move years ago actually – @kempius

Eventually Google won’t need the agency as middleman. Low margin execution is a business model lacking strategic vision. Being a paid media only agency will be reduced in usefulness as automation manages more YoY. Single view SEM FTW. – @beyondcontent

Alright #ppcchat – how are you adjusting in response to this search query report nonsense (because we know its staying). We are: – Not running DSA’s in new accounts – Doing more extensive neg. research before launching – Lowering budgets and looking @ platform switches – @amaliaefowler

With the lack of search term visibility – you’re going to be paying for your competititors terms. Even the unknown ones. The small ones. The ones you didn’t even think of. Add the mess that is close variants, and this is nothing but a money grab for Google. – @amaliaefowler

Hey @GoogleAds – this is complete BS. Hiding information from advertisers who are PAYING FOR THIS TRAFFIC is egregious. Please reconsider immediately. – @Mel66

Looking at maxing out Microsoft Ads, assuming performance is there. And other platforms as well. Google has gone too far with this one – @Mel66

The thing is, with how broadly close variants are applied, match types almost seem irrelevant. We’re having real problems with this with a couple of clients with multiple product lines – so much cannibalization due to poor matching. – @Mel66

And going to have to consider killing some BMM terms. You always have to be careful with these, but can work well with proper negatives. But now… #ppcchat (not that near match won’t get me some phrase and exact) – @markkennedysem

Yeah, that’s rough. Especially for large accounts. PPC is a lot of defense to be cost-efficient and deliver strong results. And they continue to take away some of the best defenders – @markkennedysem

Okay, so on top of hiding search terms, Google Ads has now removed the user’s location report. Talk about wanting to kill agencies – @Margaux_Rouault

Google quietly to start limiting what search terms come through reports. Going to be harder and harder to keep on top of negatives. – @mkerr85

This is crazy. Running a campaign where you can’t see half the keywords being clicked on? Where half your spend is going? @GoogleAds messed up big with this. – @alexpeerenboom

Incredible that a Google Spokesperson could make this statement with a straight face. If @GoogleAds really cared about their “standards of privacy” & “protections around user data” you’d remove ALL KEYWORD DATA like with (not provided) hit. This is solely a money grab – @gregfinn

The real deception is in the horrendous Close Variant matching with little to no support to fix. https://cypressnorth.com/paid-search-marketing/google-ads-close-variant-matching-moving-further-apart/…https://open.spotify.com/episode/6mpikjpg9TWRUju2x31VNw?si=vcbGVzwAS66QnozmaKinvg… It is getting worse each month. This change by @GoogleAds exacerbates the issue. Hard to see it not being intentional. – @gregfinn

In case you are wondering how much of your money could be blindly spent as Google wont show the full query report – @andreacruz92

So now we’ll have access to less search query data….and from November we’ll have to pay 2%. Confusing when #Googleads are charged per click…could significantly impact efficiency for clients. – @Cranners85

Search Terms Report Is Very Useful for Negative Keyword Management. But Now, #GoogleAds Will Be Limiting Search Term Reports to Terms That Were Searched by a ‘Significant Number of Users’. This Could Be Costly for Advertisers. – @OmondiOumaSnr

@GoogleAds Not a great update. Need to think about this again – @Akhil__www

Google needs to remember that while they dominate search, they are not the only way to effectively advertise. I predict Google is about to lose a lot of customers who will use their ad $ elsewhere, even if it short term grows revenue. – @timflint

Total bull that @GoogleAds is going to hide SQRs. We will take whatever the dollar amount of “unreported” kw spend is each month and put it towards Microsoft. This is ridiculous. – @jordonmeyer

@GoogleAds is dropping some search term transparency. Yikes! But. What’cha going to do about it? Advertise on Bing? (sorry @MSFTAdvertising love you all, XOXO) – @PPCHartman

WTF is this nonsense? There are already quite a few terms that get lumped into that “Other” category as it is. We definitely need to make a lot of noise about this. We should see this data as we are paying advertisers. Also, with the shady matching, seeing more terms not less is critical to adding negatives to drop out undesirable traffic. I am so pissed. Gonna have to find time to write a blog post today. – @NeptuneMoon

G Ads is always about “expanding your reach” (in fairness, all platforms try to do this in varying ways – audience expansion anyone?). But audience ≠ queries. A query represents a specific action taken by a searcher. Being put in an audience does not. – @NeptuneMoon

Having reviewed queries forever, and then hearing that suddenly upwards of 20% of those queries will no longer be visible to me due to “privacy” is laughable, at least to me. Do you feel like you could see queries before that should have been private? I don’t? – @NeptuneMoon

I think we need some major clarification from Google on this. What is the criteria being used for dropping queries out? Volume? Certain things in a query? Something else? Is it applied the same to all industries? SO MANY QUESTIONS. – @NeptuneMoon

You knew I would have to do a ranty blog post about this – so here it is: “Google Ads Taking Away Advertiser Access To Some Query Data?!?” https://neptunemoon.net/2020/09/google-ads-taking-away-advertiser-access-to-some-query-data/…@NeptuneMoon

Petition? How about a lawsuit? Businesses can’t just charge you for something you don’t know what you’re buying. I understand not showing some impressions, but all search terms that generated a click need to be disclosed. – @EricHeiken

I agree with this point for sure! I’d like to see evidence from Google on how, in a broad sense, these search terms give advertisers PII. Again, I could see some cases for it actually providing protection, but the instances I can think of probably don’t affect most accounts. – @EricHeiken

This shouldn’t be a secret. It’s not like they’re telling us exactly how ad rank is calculated; this can’t be exploited. They should provide guidelines on what causes search terms to be excluded from reporting. That seems reasonable.- @EricHeiken

i hate this SO MUCH??? The majority of our clients are low-volume B2B accounts with smaller budgets, so negative keywords are extreeeemely important. I will sign every petition and will call Google if necessary this is ridiculous. – @mattiedraftz

Google’s interests and advertisers’ interests are already not 100% aligned. With less transparency, it seems ripe for everything to tip toward the Google interests, with no way for advertisers to even know. That troubles me deeply. – @NeptuneMoon

Truthfully (plz don’t kick me out of #ppcchat) I’m a little torn here, bc in high volume accounts we already utilize some sort of filtering in Search Terms because too much data can make it harder to make decisions. That being said, smaller accounts desperately need all the data. – @PPCKirk

Google already had a filter set to not pass all Search Terms into the UI based on traffic volume, so this appears to be them simply moving the threshold. On the other hand, it is yet another in a progressing series of changes to remove data from external access. – @PPCKirk

if better quality in automation was their sole concern with queries, then close variants would also be applied to negative keyword matching. Trust the automation to not over-exclude even as it is trusted not to over-target. But it’s not, bc it’s not just about quality. – @PPCKirk

(not saying I want close variants in negative kws anymore than I want it in targeted keywords, just making an observation on the curious lack of logical consistency in the application of close matching) – @PPCKirk

Google would say “if we deliver you tracked results, isn’t that still within your interests?” I believe that is how they see and excuse this shift away from data transparency. – @PPCKirk

Lots of updates and changes from @GoogleAds this year. With this change, if you haven’t before, here’s a reminder to keep an eye out in your Google Search Console for those relevant search terms to be used for targeting in your #ppc campaigns. – @leannpickard

IMO this is the true beginning of the end of the keyword. With close variant matching, a full SQR clean up is required from time to time now a days. I’m curious, how are other big spending brands thinking about this? Can we form a coalition of pissed off advertisers? – @nataliebarreda

This is a disgusting move by @GoogleAds – completely non-transparent + designed to scam customers out of money while avoiding responsibility for it. Shameful. – @DigitalSamIAm

Hey @GoogleAds how is this supposed to be interpreted as anything other than a money grab? What’s the context for this change? If there’s a compelling case for advertisers, let’s hear it. Otherwise you are completely out of touch with your most engaged users. – @AndrewCMiller

The logic is that, by denying advertisers this information, advertisers will be less able to block those crappy search terms. It’s the same logic they’ve been using for years: They have shitty ad inventory they can’t sell honestly, and they want to force you to buy it – @stevegibsonppc

At what point do advertisers try and take a stand against @Google? In the last few days they have: Announced they’re passing on the Digital Service Tax to users, severely limited the Search Term Report and there are rumours of RSAs fully replacing ETAs. – @Greg_Asquith

Looks Like @GoogleAds are at it again. Please can you explain how this is beneficial to advertisers? – @Jonnydoesmedia

With Google taking away search terms it might take advertisers longer to find things like when rap songs are triggering your keywords, I saw a bank drop 60k on 21 savages “bank account” before they caught it, agency made $$, Google Made $$, Client was left holding the bag. – @wilreynolds

Why, @GoogleAds? And what do you define as “significant”? – @bobbykircher

RT 100 Times. Google WTF?? This is on the back of not showing search terms in smart shopping. Long term strategy to move away from keywords entirely I guess 🙁 This is why monopolies are not a good thing! – @PPCNI

Wow – Google is limiting the search terms we see in Google Ads. Isane. We Search Marketers count on these “insignificant” (as Google calls them) search terms to run our campaigns. – @jennymunn

Well yes. Google has said it won’t show search terms for low-volume clicks. Which means we can’t see irrelevant terms and exclude them from bids. So we’ll all be paying a heap of money we needn’t spend for terms we don’t want to be bidding on. – @LouisaStockley

The amount of rubbish that gets through on “exact match close variant” is shocking – #Google ads limiting the search terms report is bad for everyone. – @SeedlingDigi

Not sure what Google’s logic/play is here. Hiding organic search terms is one thing but if you are paying for them you should be seeing 100% of what you are paying for. – @Gil_RunDMG

This will be a bigger issue for negative keyword management… – @mktgbill

Always remember #googleads is always trying to make you spend more — wasting $ on off-target terms isn’t an issue for them. So: more smoke added to their mirrors… – @SouthernContent

The one two punch of broadening close match varients and removing search terms is a KO. Exact match will make a comeback but search for SMBs is flipping to local service ads (Google local services) buckle up. – @GregMargaux

That’s what the plan is….Make it difficult for advertisers to find irrelevant key terms so that Google can make more money…It is as simple as that!! Moreover, even with search terms report, I noticed so many agencies doing poor job, don’t know what they will do now. – @ManishK_Chauhan

FFS … another way for Google to obfuscate reporting, whilst they continue to mark their own homework. When will marketers wake up to the fact Google’s cynical manipulation of the search market only benefits one company … Google. – @garyptaylor

1.) Keyword match definitions broadened 2.) Smart bidding ‘black box’ introduced 3.) Positional bidding made more vague 4.) Now search terms being limited But don’t worry, let’s all trust in Google to have our best interests at heart – @garyptaylor

Google Ads will now report less search terms, claiming privacy reasons. For advertisers that go for many long tail terms ie. in ecommerce or tourism, that’s a big hit. – @Nadir

The number of search terms we were seeing was already short of optimum. I don’t like the path Google ads is taking lately. Maybe now you know why they took the “don’t be evil” off. – @xsamat

As if it weren’t difficult enough trying to cobble together pertinent information to make informed decisions -> Google Ads Search Terms Report To Hide Some Search Terms – @MattCarracino

maybe Google knows if you don’t see the exact phrase people search you won’t block terms and Google will make more money Or maybe Google knows if you don’t see the exact phrase people search you won’t block terms and Google will make more money – @YeahItDepends

Agree 100%. Until AI advances again, there will always be search terms Google matches with keywords that as humans we KNOW are completely unrelated/related but not thought of, regardless of the volume/statistical significance performance wise – @Greg_Asquith

Harsh step by @GoogleAds on small businesses with a low budget by the new “Changes to the search term report”. It will be harder to optimize ad spends now, as from September it will show searchterms only with a significant number of searches. We expect better from you Google. – @grovention

If I don’t do exact match, I will not know which search terms are driving the clicks, and if I do an exact match it should have numbers or else google will not show ads. Confusing!!! – @desaibhavesh

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