Low Search Volume Keywords – What You Should Do About Them

You are probably familiar with the concept of ‘low search volume’ keywords. Often when adding new keywords found during keyword research or when adding new keywords found in the SQR (search query report) they end up flagged as ‘low search volume’. You might have asked yourself what that means and what should you do about them.

Low Search Volume keywords are ones that Google has identified as having very little search traffic. These keywords do not trigger ads and might as well not exist in your account unless their search volume increases. Google assesses their estimated search traffic on a weekly basis.

In general, you have two choices – you can either leave these ‘low search volume’ keywords in the account if you believe their search volume will increase in the near future. For example: a new brand name might have very low search volume but once the brand is better known searches for it might increase. The other option is to delete these keywords from the account, reducing clutter and making it easier to manage, especially when dealing with large accounts.

Where should you take special care? Many accounts have a structure that is based on match type, meaning they have Broad/Modified Broad, Phrase and Exact match keywords residing in different campaigns or ad groups. In order to funnel the traffic correctly so that the appropriate keywords trigger ads, advertisers usually use either incremental bidding (i.e., bidding highest on Exact, then Phrase, and lowest on Broad) or make excessive use of negative match type keywords (i.e., negating all the Exact and Phrase match keywords in the Broad/BMM campaign or ad groups so that ads are triggered by the Phrase or Exact campaign/ad group for the relevant search queries). However, when using the second method you have to take care to never negate a ‘low search volume’ keyword. Doing so cause no ads at all to be triggered.

Here is an example. For simplicity I’m using only BMM and Exact ad groups but the idea is the same when a Phrase match ad group exists:
Say you have the BMM keyword +trade +stock +online which has brought many leads from highly relevant long-tailed search queries, such as ‘trade stocks and indices online 24 hours’. Now you want to add the Exact type keyword: [trade stocks and indices online 24 hours] to your ‘Trade Stocks’ Exact ad group and negate the same keyword from the BMM ad group. If this keyword is flagged as having ‘low search volume’ this will cause this keyword not to trigger ads at all. This is because ‘low search volume’ keywords do not enter the auction, so the Exact ad group does not trigger ads. Also, since you negated it in the BMM campaign it will not trigger ads there either.

Targeting ‘low search volume’ keywords won’t hurt your account. Doing so might make the account cumbersome, but will not do any harm. However, negating those keywords might cause you to lose a small amount of highly relevant traffic, especially if you negate keywords that appear in the SQR report as part of an optimization routine.

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