How Low Search Volume Killed Long Tail

Posted on March 16, 2015 in

Advertisers Lose A Valuable Tool

Low Search Volume has been a plague for years in Google AdWords accounts, and it continues to create problems in maximizing ad revenue. If you’re not familiar with how ‘Low Search Volume’ status works, afflicted keywords will not trigger ads. It is applied to keywords that are only eligible for five or fewer queries in the past 30 days. AdWords runs checks to see if the status should be updated once per week.

The original version of the status meant that the keywords would only run intermittently, but intermittent impressions from keywords with excessively low query volume really didn’t mean a whole lot of traffic anyways. While there was an initial outcry, Google’s explanation was that with such a high volume of keywords in their databases, they would actually save money by selectively omitting a portion of them. While the answer was quite reasonable, it still left many advertisers in a conundrum.


How This Killed Long Tail Keywords

Since long tail keywords are typically strong converting due to their nature of having more qualifying terms in them, every market would love to find the prime ones for their business. A significant percentage of Google search traffic is long tail, which should mean there are plenty of keywords for everyone. Instead, the Low Search Volume status has relegated many of the long tail keywords to the dustbin of history. Instead, most advertisers have been forced to target broader keywords in a great deal of instances. By going after broader terms, these same advertisers are competing on a broader range of queries. So, while users are continuing to search long tail queries, the number of accounts bidding on those queries has increased dramatically. And with increased competition, there are increased costs across the board.


What To Do About It

There are multiple ways to deal with the problem. Since there are plenty high converting long tail tail queries out there, finding a solution is certainly worth the extra effort.

Expanding Geography– Adding geography by default should add to the number of queries a Low Search Volume keyword is eligible. Assuming the traffic is relevant, the extra queries might be welcome additions.

Changing Match Types– Assuming the keywords in question are Exact or Phrase, changing them to Broad Match Modifier should allow for a sizable increase in query targeting. Going beyond BMM may not be worth it though, and of course the proper negatives should always be applied.

Reducing Negative Keywords– There are so many negative keywords that may be tempting to keep in as they offer lower conversion rates, but the more questionable negatives might just be the keywords tipping the balance. Giving them an extra consideration by removing them may be a difference maker in a Low Search Volume keyword activating.

Day Parting– Day Parting has long been a crucial tool in the AdWords bag of tricks, but sometimes that the hours can be too restrictive. It is likely worth considering later evening times, earlier morning, or even the weekend display times.

Device Targeting– Whether to target smartphones or not is rather important. But sometimes, there is too much of a focus on trying to find ways to around the targeting dilemma presented by Enhanced Campaigns. Instead, targeting mobile and desktop preference ads will allow the smaller traffic keywords to run and generate greater results overall.



No single keyword should make or break an AdWords account, but the results of a small number of keywords can make the difference between a good month and a great month. It’s worth spending some time on these, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of critical optimization efforts.

Now, go make some money!

By Kevin Adams

Kevin Adams has been doing PPC since 2004. He has managed many accounts from local service companies to large mortgage companies. His primary proficiencies are Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Bing Ads. He continually stays up-to-date on the latest tricks, tools and trends provided by the search engines. If there is one thing that Kevin excels at most is making his clients money with Pay-per-Click advertising.