If you’re running a Google Ads campaign, as an advertiser or business owner you may have wondered about that “low search volume” label that appears next to certain keywords. What does it mean? What do you do with that information? The answer may be different for everybody, but it helps to understand why this appears and how different reactions may influence your overall campaign.

What Does ‘Low Search Volume’ mean?

If you don’t know what “low search volume” means, you will have a hard time making decisions about the keywords that appear with this label.

low volumes searches

Luckily, this isn’t very difficult to understand. When your keywords get flagged with a “limited approval” or “low search volume” tag, this is simply Google’s way of telling you that these particular keywords are underperforming, meaning that not a lot of people are making searches that include these words. When this happens, Google will temporarily disable the keywords.

Naturally, you want your Google Ad campaign to generate maximum leads and conversions, and by disabling these severely underperforming keywords, you can focus both your time and your money on the words that are consistently generating website traffic.

While Google merely approves the deactivation of these words, you will still see them in your account, so what can you do after that?

Understand Why Google Made the Decision

It’s easy to assume that these keywords are now worthless and that it’s time to delete, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Just don’t forget to consider the different reasons that might explain why Google decided to label your keywords as such.

In many cases, a lack of searches is often due to a lack of relevance, but Google may stick the “low search volume” tag onto your keywords for other reasons that include the following:

  • They are not relevant to a majority of customers
  • They are too specific or too obscure
  • They are too long-tailed, which means that they have too many words
  • Your keywords concern seasonal events and products (and it isn’t that season)
  • You have restrictive match types
  • Your keywords are branded terms

Once you get to the root of the problem, you can make a more intelligent decision regarding these particular keywords, namely, do you ditch them or use them to your advantage?

Do You Bid on These Keywords?

It’s entirely possible to keep bidding on these keywords and generate leads and conversions, but it will likely depend on the keyword and the reason it was flagged in the first place. For example, if you are bidding on a seasonal term in the wrong season, it’s unlikely that you will start seeing results until you enter the correct season.

One important thing to remember, however, is that Google will usually reactive keywords if searches increase even slightly, so if you keep the right ones around, your Ad may start popping up.

Other times, your match types are too specific or restrictive, and, if you have terms set as a phrase or an exact match, it may help to loosen things up a bit and be more inclusive so that you reach more people. This can be the difference between a successful keyword and one with low search volume.

What Do These Keywords Mean for Your Account Itself?

As you probably know, Google scores your keywords and advertisements based on quality, and this quality score can influence the success rate of your ads. So, you may be wondering if and how these low search volume terms are going to affect that score.

In general, low search volume terms will not have a dramatic impact on your quality score, and that’s if they have any impact at all. This is especially true if they are relevant and fluctuating. If a keyword is dipping in and out of “low search volume” status, your account should not be negatively impacted.

However, relevancy is a factor of your quality score, so if you have keywords that have held that “low search volume” status for a considerable amount of time with little change, it may be time to give them the boot.

Is that the only option, though? Perhaps not. If you are willing to put in some time, you may be able to squeeze some more juice out of these keywords.

Giving Underperforming Keywords Another Chance

If you decide to keep your keywords, there is not much that you can do except hope that people start searching with these terms. But this only concerns a single network.

Google’s presence is, of course, enormous, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t increase brand awareness by testing out your keywords on other networks. When you advertise on Bing, for example, you are not only reaching a new set of customers, but you are also catching those cross-network searchers who may not have seen your ad on Google.

If you weren’t already, you might also consider extending your ad to Google’s display network or try your keywords out on social media platforms such as Facebook, which has massive ad potential. The influence of social media ads cannot be understated, and if you have yet to tap into this market, it may be beneficial to do so.

Granted, the Facebook ad targeting system is not keyword-based, but you can still test these phrases in ad messaging and headlines to see how they perform. The beauty of managing these ad campaigns is that you can experiment and find out what works. If you feel that certain keywords are worth pursuing, you can do so relatively inexpensively.

As far as those low search volume keywords, it may not be enough to simply delete or hold onto them, especially if you are trying to maximize results. By understanding what they are and why Google gave them this name, you can make intelligent decisions based on the information and learn how to get more out of what seems like a dead-end.

If you’re looking for help with your Google Ads campaign, or are new to Digital Marketing in general feel free to get in touch with a consultant at Phoenix Media, we can review your existing campaign free of charge or provide you with a quotation for ongoing management, contact us here.



  • Published on : Sunday August 26, 2018
  • Last updated : Thursday April 7, 2022

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