google adwords: what to do with low search volume keywords

Occasionally you will find some keywords marked as Low Search Volume in Google Adwords. This is especially true if you are using some long tailed keywords. So, what do you do when you have keywords that are not generating any impressions or clicks?

What is Low Search Volume Status in Google Adwords?

Google assigns the Low Search Volume status to a keywords when it deems that there are not enough search queries or search traffic for that particular keyword. The keyword then goes into a temporary suspended status or the inactive status and your ads won't be shown.

But that is not the end of it. It is only inactive temporarily, if for some reason the search traffic increases for that keyword in the future then it will automatically become active and your ads will be shown…..without the need for any action from your side.

There are several reasons as to why the search volume might be low…

  1. Is it a seasonal keyword?: Is your keyword seasonal in nature? For example, is it Christmas or specific holiday related query? If that is the case, you can expect the keyword to be inactive during the off-season.
  2. Misspelled keywords?: Is the keyword misspelled? Google tries to match up if the words or keyword is only slightly misspelled, but heavily misspelled words can create ambiguity in its meaning and fail to match with any query.
  3. Is it a new keyword?: Are you trying to market a keyword that is quite new, such as a brand name or a new product? In that case, you will need to give it enough time for the product or brand to become little more popular.
  4. Too long a tail?: If you are using a long tail keyword, then maybe the tail is just a bit too long. Are you using exact match type with this keyword as well? It is quite unlikely that a lot of people are searching by using the exact word order in your long tail keyword.

Recommendations: So what can you do?

You have several different options here. I have detailed the steps below in order of preference (my preference to be precise). You can choose to perform them one by one giving enough time between the steps and test the progress. You can also do all of them in one go as well…(expect the last ones).

Correct it if it is misspelled

This goes without saying…fix the spelling mistakes and do it for all keywords, even that are getting good amount of traffic as well. I have seen people trying to match for "misspelled search queries" by misspelling keywords on purpose. The thinking is that it is cheaper and easier to match for these, as people often misspell when typing. Don't do it…not worth it.

Change the match type to broad

There are three match types available for keywords: broad, phrase or exact. If you using exact or phrase match type, then this might be the one keyword where you want to use the broad match. You can use the '+' modifier in the keyword to specify words that are mandatory in the query.

I usually recommend using only phrase or exact match exclusively, but changing the match to broad in the case of a low volume keyword is a good idea.

Broaden your location reach

Are you using geo-targeting for your campaign? If that is the case, then broadening the geographical area where the ads are shown will help you to garner more searches. As the keyword is not generating any clicks at all to start with, this should not increase your overall budget too much.

For example, if you are targeting only the Philadelphia area then increasing the target area to include Baltimore and New York will be a good idea, as there is a lot more overall traffic in these area.

You can only broaden the geographical location for the entire campaign, not for just the keyword. This could be problematic because it could cause the budget to balloon, if there are a other keywords in the ad group. Consider moving the low search volume keywords to a separate campaign that you can then manage independent of the other. Remember to create corresponding and separate ad groups as well, adhering to the original theme of the keywords. You will then be able to set a different target location and different ads for just these keywords.

Find related keywords that has better traffic

Is it possible that the users are searching using a related keyword rather than the keyword you are using? It could be a related word or a synonym or some other word.

For example, if your keyword is something like "good quality dog food for large breed puppies", then you can try something like "good quality pet food for large dogs". Of course, it will be specific to your keyword and campaign. A small difference in the words and word order can make a difference.

Pare down the keyword

The most common reason that the keyword is a low search volume keyword is because the keyword is way too specific. Just dropping a couple of words from the keyword could generate more queries. You could also break the keyword into two or more smaller keywords.

From the example above, the keyword "good quality dog food for large breed puppies" can be changed and split as "good quality dog food" and "dog food for large breed".

Leave the keyword alone

This is probably one the better options of all, if none of the above suggestions applies to you. If you believe that the keyword is relevant to your campaign, then leave it alone for a while and see if the traffic picks up. It is not eating into the budget anyways. Google is updating the search data quite regularly, at least once a week so there is a good possibility that the status will change.

Remove the keyword

The last option you have is to remove the keyword altogether. Before you remove it, you should ask a couple of questions. Is the keyword relevant enough to your campaign? Is it possible that you will want to market to the keyword in future? If you answered yes, then you are probably better off leaving it alone.

If the keyword is not very relevant, then you might be better off deleting the keyword and focusing your efforts on keywords that are converting better. On the other hand if these long tailed keywords are well-thought out and targeted, it usually converts much better.