How Will Grouped Keyword Changes Affect Your Search Marketing Campaign?
Oh Google, what have you done now? Why must you taunt us search marketers so?
From June 2016, Google has decided to group keyword volumes for similar keywords in Keyword Planner in AdWords. I noticed this as I was compiling keyword data from the AdWords Keyword Tool for biddible. Both Google Shopping Pay per Click and Google Shopping PPC were grouped together. This was also the case where the term Ads or Advertising were used. This grouping means that the search volume figures will be grouped too so if SEO searched 36,000 times and Search Engine Optimisation is searched 21,500 times figures will be combined and displayed as 57,500.
In addition to the keyword grouping changes, Google has also been reducing access to the keyword planner data for some accounts. This is largely dependent on campaign spend with advertisers with lower monthly spends being the first to notice this restriction. There are a number of posts that have come up with ways to get around this but how long will it be before Google catches on?
These changes will have an effect on anyone who uses keyword data, more specifically PPC and SEOs. This is because our primary source of data is from the Keyword Planner. Even external tools such as SEMRush or SearchMetrics use Keyword Planner data.
Why? Why? Why?
Apart from being mean? There are actually some good reasons for these changes. Google has recently released a new parser to the public which is more intelligent when it comes to natural language processing than ever.
The question is, how will this affect the pages that rank for similar keywords. Does this mean because keywords are similar that search results will be similar too? If this theory is correct then if keywords are viewed as identical then we should see the same pages ranking for the keywords.
Moz has recently carried some analysis on this and has categorised the keywords that seem to be grouped into initialisms and abbreviations, plurals, verb stems, punctuated keywords, keywords with spelling errors. They found that keyword grouping occurs most frequently for plural variations of keywords and keywords with typos experiencing the lowest levels of grouping.
There does not seem to be a great deal of difference between the keywords that are grouped by the Planner and those that aren’t which would suggest that search intent doesn’t play as much of a big role as first thought. There would appear to be no differences between grouped and ungrouped keyword pairs when it comes to SERP similarity.
Don’t Forget – Google is Smart
Google are making big strides when it comes to natural language processing and intent assessment so it makes sense that they are starting to associate similar keywords in their results. What we can say with confidence is that keyword grouping is still in its infancy, however as Google develops more sophisticated language processing and intent assessments we will see a new age of data processing.