Google AdWords Keyword Planner Changes: Implications for Marketers

Post by Hayley Wolfcale, Copy Director

Google has made the AdWords Keyword Planner less accessible. Now, accounts that do not spend a certain amount on ads each month will only see broad ranges instead of average monthly search volume numbers. Even accounts with the requisite ad spend will see the broad ranges if they exceed a daily limit of search volume requests. This move is correlated with Google’s July decision to consider some keywords as one unit, singular and plural keywords for example. Clearly, Google is emphasizing intent over search volume, so we are too.


Yes, knowing what the majority of searchers are typing into Google is a valuable metric. It shows us where consumer interest lies and what type of language they use to get the answers they need. However, search volume alone cannot be the main focus when choosing keywords. Chasing high volume keywords for each page of your site is a recipe for disappointment. When keywords are chosen for search volume and not for intent, sites won’t perform well, nor will they rank for the more accurate terms that were passed up.


Is the keyword accurate to the page’s content? Here’s an example: if a page is about a company’s dedication to environmental causes, optimizing for “green initiatives” (880, USA search volume) doesn’t capture the true purpose of the page, which is to let people know about the company’s work towards green initiatives. The odds of the page ever ranking for “green initiatives” is so low (given that it will compete with government agencies and environmental organizations), it isn’t even worth tracking performance for such a keyword.


Is the keyword relevant to the industry? Does it have other potential meanings? Is the product name the same as a completely different organization, historical event or news item that has nothing to do with the industry? Are you going to call your page this potentially misleading keyword and hope that Google knows which one the searcher wants, or are you going to choose a generic, non-brand term that captures consumers who may not even have heard of the product?


Google wants to give searchers useful results, and your site can get on board or get left behind. There’s no gaming the system anymore: no keyword stuffing or black hat tricks will save you if your site is low on optimized content. Using keywords that don’t match your pages’ intent will hurt your chances of ranking, because Google is more sophisticated than ever, and it knows when you’re counting cards (have I mixed my metaphors?).

Pick the Best Words For the Page

…even if no one’s looking for them.

Choosing the most accurate title for your page is the best way to ensure that when someone does look for it, Google will present it to them (barring any technical challenges that might stand in the way of indexation, of course). If you optimize for unachievable, inaccurate keywords, you won’t see positive results.

Take our earlier example, of your company’s page about supporting green initiatives. Although the keyword “[Your Brand]’s sustainability” may have no search volume, it doesn’t mean that you won’t want that page to show up for exactly that term if and when someone does look for it. Of course, your page should also be updated with the latest information, or you risk being outranked by news outlets.

Similarly, some of your content may have serious overlaps. Let’s say you sell essential oils and you have three different lavender-based scents: white lavender essential oil, lavender and thyme essential oil, and “plain” lavender essential oil. You can’t assign “lavender essential oil” to every page. Even though no one’s searching for “lavender and thyme essential oil” you should absolutely optimize for this keyword and track it to ensure that this page does not compete with the other lavender pages.


When we examine a site we follow these guidelines:

  • Each page should be assigned a unique keyword in order to track its performance
  • When choosing a keyword, we consider these factors, in order of importance:
    • Accuracy
    • Relevancy
    • Search volume
  • Accept that at least some pages on almost every site will be optimized and tracked for keywords that do not have consistently measurable search volume

For more information on keyword research, contact Performics today.

Hayley Wolfcale
Hayley Wolfcale
Hayley Wolfcale has an MA in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She knits and dances around a fickle pair of cats in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.

Comments are closed.

Performics Newsletter