Every now and then Google goes ahead and makes a change to its products that has marketers everywhere jumping for joy. This isn’t one of those moments. Instead, the latest changes to Google’s Keyword Planner join the longer list of decisions that has the PPC community up in arms.

That’s right, Google has decided to make its trusty Keyword Planner even less accurate for your researching pleasure.

Update, not upgrade

So what has Google changed about everyone’s favourite keyword tool? Well, instead of separating search volumes for keyword variations they’re now all bunched together. Which means you can kiss goodbye to data for close variants, acronyms and spelling mistakes – they’re all combined into one larger figure.

The end result means every keyword now comes with inflated search volumes. So the queries you research and bid on will have lower search volumes than the figures you see in Keywords Planner.

This also removes the opportunity to get data specifically on those variants. You can’t see which variations are most commonly typed in by users anymore – a pretty important insight in keyword planning.


Why has Google made this change?

We can’t see any value in this for advertisers whatsoever. Some will argue anything that makes keyword research and bidding more difficult means more money for Google. It would be interesting to compare the suggested bids on a bunch of keywords from the day before and after the change. If Google has hiked up its suggested bids based on ‘higher’ search volumes, that’s pretty stinky.

So far Google is keeping quiet on the topic but we’re sure there’ll be a statement about the change soon enough. We expect Google to claim its ability to interpret search intent and variants justify combining the data for them. And its true that keyword variations are less influential than they once were. Sadly, that’s not enough to justify the move for us and we suspect many advertisers will feel the same.

The only thing we can say is this reinforces the need to use multiple keyword tools. Don’t rely on Google alone.