Google Announced a Change in Search Terms Reporting

  • 21 September 2020
Change in Search Terms Reporting

At the beginning of September, Google notified users that they will be limiting the number of search terms visible to advertisers within search terms reports in the Google Ads platform. In their official announcement, they stated that the new search terms reports will “only include terms that were searched by a significant number of users”. A Google spokesperson said they were making the change “in order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data” and are “continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions”.

What is Google’s search terms report and how is it used by advertisers?

Google’s search terms report is a report inside of the Google Ads platform that shows advertisers the terms search engine users search for when an advertiser’s ad is triggered. It allows advertisers to compare their keyword targeting choices with the actual queries searchers typed into Google and identify opportunities to improve their targeting. More specifically advertisers use this report to identify opportunities to reduce costs by adjusting keyword match types and adding negative keywords to ad groups.

What are match types and negative keywords?

Match types allow advertisers to limit how closely related a search query has to be to a keyword in order for an ad to show to a searcher. Exact match keywords only target queries with the exact words a searcher types into Google as well as close variants (misspellings). Phrase match targets searchers who type in very slight modifications to a keyword by adding a word or phrase alongside the exact keyword. Broad match keywords can target search queries with related words and phrases that are interchangeable with the exact wording of a keyword. 

Negative keywords tell Google to avoid presenting an ad for search queries that contain a given keyword. Negative keywords are used more often when advertisers use broad match keywords because they are the most likely to target irrelevant queries.

Will this change impact our advertisers?

Conversion Logix has reviewed this announcement and believes that it will not significantly affect our ability to deliver great results for our clients.

While we will have less insight on specific negative keywords that might be needed, we can use cumulative data across our ~1,000 multifamily housing accounts to understand what updates are needed for our keyword lists. 

Because our company uses a phrase and exact match keyword strategy instead of a broad match strategy across our campaigns, we’ve already reduced our risk of targeting the wide-ranging search terms that often require extensive negative keyword lists.

It is our understanding we will still be able to see how many searches are ‘hidden’ from our view which will give us insights into the variety of search terms that trigger our ads. For example, if we see there is a large percentage of searches that Google isn’t showing us, we should be able to glean that we are getting a high number of lower volume searches and our keywords may need to be refined. We can utilize this data alongside the performance of the specific campaign we are optimizing to understand what changes may be needed.


This new change to search terms reports will provide advertisers with less visibility into search terms that get a low volume of searches in an effort to increase privacy standards in Google’s advertising platform. This could potentially limit advertisers’ ability to identify irrelevant queries that trigger ads to show in the search results. Advertisers who use a highly targeted approach in their ad campaigns won’t be as impacted by this loss in visibility. Companies like ours that have a deep source of knowledge and data in a given industry will be able to find alternative ways to identify negative keywords and improve targeting despite the change.

The Conversion Logix team will continue to provide exceptional service and reporting to our Paid Search clients. Should you have any questions about your Paid Search campaign, please schedule a call or consult your designated account manager.

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