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3 Clever Ways to Target Your Competitors' Audiences Without Search Ads

3 Clever Ways to Target Your Competitors' Audiences Without Search Ads

Using keywords to target other brand names, products, or services is one of the easiest ways to go after competitors in Google Ads. But targeting competitor keywords can get expensive. The good news is, there are more options we have than just the Search Network.

While Search will always have the deepest intent, there are some pretty specific targeting options we can use for other campaign types that also have deep intent. In this post, I am going to go over three ways you can reach your competitors’ audience without targeting their keywords.

Build custom audiences with competitor keywords
Build custom audiences with competitor URLs
Target YouTube ads on competitor videos
1. Build custom audiences with competitor keywords

As you may or may not know, custom intent and custom affinity audiences have been combined into one custom audience feature in Google Ads, which helps us to reach audiences more in line with our campaign’s goal type. It also helps us to run competitive ads. 

How it works

This strategy sets your Video and Discovery campaigns to appear in front of users who have searched competitor terms.

How to do it

Go to Tools & Settings > Shared Library > Audience Manager to create your custom audience.

Choose the option to target “People who searched for any of these terms on Google.“

The “on Google” part of this is key, because it means you are essentially targeting people who searched for any in a list of terms on Google properties like YouTube and You read that correctly. Here is the exact quote from Google.

“Enter search terms your ideal customer is using on Google. Your ads will reach people who search for those and similar terms only on campaigns running on Google properties.  On other campaigns, the terms will be used as interests or purchase intentions.”

So now take your list of competitor terms and add them to your new Custom Audience. As an example, let’s say you sell laptops and Asus is one of your competitors. Terms you might add include: asus laptop reviews, asus laptop issues, asus i5 laptop, best asus gaming laptop, and so on.

If people have searched for these terms on Google and YouTube before, that is a much deeper intent than an awareness audience.

While custom audiences may not be as specific as bidding on competitor brand names on Search, we can still use them to get in front of a very relevant audience and sway their decision-making in your brand’s favor.

Notes on this strategy

What I do want to point out is that last sentence in the quote above.

“On other campaigns, the terms will be used as interests or purchase intentions.”

What this means is, this setting will apply to YouTube and Discovery campaigns because those are Google Properties. While you can use Custom Audiences for Display campaigns, Display placements are not Google properties.

Test them out for your Video and Discovery campaigns (Discovery now includes Gmail placements) to get in front of your competitors’ audience in a different way.

2. Create custom audiences with competitor URLs

Besides keyword or search term targeting for your Custom Audiences, you can also enter in specific URLs. This was a strategy I loved using in the Custom Affinity days, but it’s still available in Custom Audiences.

How it works

This strategy takes a list of all of your competitors’ URLs and makes an audience off of those domains.

How to do it

So what you’ll do is create a new custom audience and choose the “Include people with the following interests or behaviors” option. Below that box, you’ll then see “Expand audience by also including:” where you can click on “People who browse types of websites.

You can then select “People who browse websites similar to” and you’ll be given another area where you can add in as many competitor web pages as you want.

Continuing on with my laptop seller example, some URLs I added to this list include,,, and more.

While this is not as exact as historical search term targeting, it does focus on a specific user behavior if your competitors have pretty similar websites. Use this strategy for a more top of funnel approach to make an introduction to users who could be interested in your brand’s products.

Notes on this strategy

It is important to note that this targeting works differently than adding search terms. We are not and cannot target users who actually visited the URLs you entered. You cannot do remarketing without having your tag on those URLs, and this is not placement targeting for the Display Network.

Rather, this setting tells Google to target your ads at users who visit websites similar to the ones you enter.

3. Place YouTube ads on competitor videos

This third strategy (one of my favorites) does involve placement targeting—placement targeting for YouTube.

How it works

This strategy puts you in front of your competitors’ audiences by advertising on their own YouTube videos. One of the best feelings I get in this industry is showing a client the placement report for a particular ad group and showing them what awareness, views, and conversions we’re getting from their competitors’ YouTube videos or YouTube channel.

How to do it

To do this, head to your YouTube ad placement options.

Continuing on with my laptop example, I typed in hewlett packard.

You can then target specific YouTube videos or target an entire channel if your competitor is showing up.

Notes on this strategy

If you do decide to run a managed placement ad group on YouTube, you should be aware of the fine print. If you’re targeting placements solely on YouTube or the Display Network, your ads will now be eligible to run on both. So still monitor where your ads appear in the placement reports to make sure your ads are staying on the competitor placements you wanted.

Target your competitors’ audiences without breaking the bank

Targeting your competitors’ keywords on the Google Ads Search Network can be effective, but it can also be expensive in some cases. These three low-cost options I gave you can be powerful ways to build awareness and attract the right user who may be interested in what you are selling. Test them out, and pair them with creative and landing pages that showcase why your brand is superior.

This Nonprofit Is On A Mission To Mentor A Billion Students Globally

This Nonprofit Is On A Mission To Mentor A Billion Students Globally

I scour the globe for stories worth reading about ventures that are a true force for good for humanity and our planet. That’s why I’m THRILLED to introduce Deborah Heiser, Founder and CEO of The Mentor Project™. 
Deborah Heiser and The Mentor Project’s mission is to utilize the world’s most precious natural resource.  Our experts in STEAM, law, business and finance are working to mentor the more than 2 billion students around the globe for FREE. Our mentors pass on their knowledge and skills to change the trajectory and global impact of the next generation.

Their impact to date? More than 61,000 online and in-person students have received free mentoring from experts across the United States, Argentina, Russia, and India. 
Let’s dive into the deep end. 

Diana Tsai: What’s the problem you’re solving? 
Deborah Heiser: We are creating equal access to world expert mentors for students around the world who would otherwise never have access to this kind of knowledge base. Our mentors go into schools, create online content, develop and mentor hackathons, develop conferences, pitch contests, podcasts, television, and mentor individual students virtually. We do this for FREE so all students can have equal opportunities for access to world experts.    

Tsai: What is the MEASURABLE IMPACT you’ve made to date? 
Deborah Heiser: We’ve served 61,000 students in 4 countries (the US, Argentina, Russia, and India). Half of our students are in underserved communities. 
A story I love to share about how our mentors and partners change communities: in Robeson County schools, one of the poorest counties in the United States, we partnered with Embedded Ventures, who donated  8-bit computers to three classrooms.  8-bit computer assembly instruction by Jenna Bryant as part of their technology curriculum. This live program was also live-streamed on twitch.  Following this, we partnered with Ad Astra to put in a National Stem Honor Society chapter to continue their growth in STEM. 

Tsai: Can you share some more stories of how you’ve transformed lives through your work? 
Heiser: During the height of the pandemic, one of our mentees had an idea to patent a door handle that did not require the use of hands to open it, was able to get a patent for his vision with mentors Jura Zibas and Bob Cousins.  Bob, the prolific innovator, and Jura, an IP Superlawyer, worked with this mentee for free on the necessary forms, the searches required, every detail needed to file for a patent.  A patent is out of the realm of possibility for most people, but because they worked each week with him for free, he could get a patent pending!  And, for a 16-year-old, this is a life-changing experience.  The world opened up for this mentee with possibilities, new confidence, and new skills.  He plans to apply for college to pursue his passions for technology and innovation.  

I also want to share a story about how our work impacts our mentors. Bill Cheswick, the “father of the firewall,” said to me, “ I want to go into classrooms to teach 4th graders, quantum mechanics.”  Bill, well-known worldwide, well-known worldwide, had time to mentor but couldn’t find kids to mentor for his world-changing cybersecurity work.  He simply didn’t have access to young kids.  Bill’s life changed as soon as he started going to school.  He went as often as schools could have him.  One school named the day he came in “Ches Day.”  He drove his Tesla from his farm in NJ to the Bronx, Long Island, and schools in New Jersey.  Bill became invigorated, productive, and excited to plan programs for elementary school through high school.   

Once the pandemic hit, he had to stop going into schools, but now that they are reopening, he is ready to hop in his Tesla to drive to North Carolina for some in-person mentorship in schools.   Bill is fulfilled and productive and knows his expertise is not being wasted, which has been transformative.  

Tsai: What motivated you personally to start this company/organization? 
Heiser: As an Applied Developmental Psychology and aging specialist, I came to think of mentorship from the mentor’s perspective.  Research shows that we are built to want to give back to others by the time we reach midlife (at the time we become experts).  Erik Erikson coined this stage in our lives Generativity.  In my coaching practice, I kept meeting people with expertise but without an opportunity to mentor.  A friend introduced me to Bob Cousins (the guy who patented how we use credit cards on the internet and was named 2020 Inventor of the Year), and he introduced me to countless innovators who also didn’t have access mentees. Bob and I founded The Mentor Project to connect mentors with mentees.   

Tsai: A little vulnerability – how do you take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for the world? 
Heiser:  I surround myself with people who are intelligent, generative, and supportive. Exercise has been the most helpful way I can release stress. I also joined a pickleball team.  

Tsai: Where do you see your organization in five years?
Heiser: I see The Mentor Project reaching a million mentees in 3 years and expect we will be in at least ten countries in five years.

Tsai: How can readers get involved / support/help? 
Heiser: Get involved by going to our website.  If you’d like mentorship, click our Ask a Mentor button.  Check out our website if you’d like to access our podcasts, video content, join a hackathon or conference.  You can apply to become a mentor by contacting us through our website as well.  Access our podcasts on all major platforms.  

Learn more & take action:

A Second Week of Declines as September Continues

This story originally appeared on Zacks

Any hopes of a positive week were dashed on Friday, as the September slump continued and left each of the major indices with slight losses over the five days. And now the market waits to hear what the Fed has to say in their meeting next week.The S&P slipped 0.91% today to 4432.99, while the NASDAQ was off by the same percentage (or nearly 138 points) to 15,043.97. The Dow declined 0.48% (or around 166 points) to 34,584.88.The indices actually came into Friday’s session with gains through the first four days. We enjoyed a decent rally on Wednesday (which has been rare this month) followed by only slight losses on Thursday. Even a mediocre advance could have sent investors into the weekend feeling pretty good, all things considered.However, the above-mentioned performances left the S&P and NASDAQ in the red by 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively, for the week. The Dow was pretty much breakeven, though technically off by less than 0.1%.  That makes back-to-back weekly losses for the indices, but the declines were much narrower than last week when stocks were down by more than 1.5%.We saw a good amount of economic data in the past few days, which continued on Friday with the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index. The print came to 71, which was a bit better than August’s number but below expectations of 72.It was a similar idea to the CPI report on Tuesday and jobless claims yesterday. The results were slightly below forecasts but held up rather well, suggesting an economic recovery that’s staying on its feet though being impacted by the delta variant.Meanwhile, the retail sales data from Thursday was downright solid by climbing 0.7% in August, compared to the market’s expectation for a 0.8% slide.All of this stuff will be taken into account when the Fed meets next week. Investors will be watching for any announcements, or at least hints, on the central bank’s timeline for scaling back on its asset purchasing program. Has this recent data impacted their plans? We’ll find out on Wednesday.Today’s Portfolio Highlights:Technology Innovators: There’s a lot of open spots in this portfolio right now, so Brian added for a second consecutive session today. He picked up EchoStar (SATS) on Friday, a global provider of satellite service operations, video delivery services, broadband satellite technologies and broadband internet services for home and small office customers. The company has a great earnings history with an average surprise of 187% over the past four quarters, while rising earnings estimates pushed the stock to Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) status. Brian thinks the valuation is “amazing” and really appreciates the margins moving to a gain 2.1% from a loss of 2.2% over the past several quarters. Learn more in the complete commentary.Counterstrike: Streaming staple Roku (ROKU) beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 270% in its most recent report from August. You’d think that would mean good things for a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), but it has actually slipped almost 25% from that release. And its now down 35% from its all-time highs. That means it’s a good candidate for this portfolio. Jeremy thinks that ROKU likely bounces back to its 200-day at around $360 – $370, which would mean a 15% to 20% gain. The editor added the stock on Friday with a small 4% position, but plans to manage this trade and possibly add more if it comes down to long-term support around $250. “Don’t be surprised if this goes against us, the key will be managing this trade,” said Jeremy. Read the full write-up for more on this move.Value Investor: The portfolio got back into oil on Friday by adding Pioneer National Resources (PXD), as Tracey still thinks we’re entering into a multi-year bull market in energy. PXD is an industry leader in E&P and should be less volatile than smaller names. Plus, the company has one of the best balance sheets in the business. In fact, PXD’s free cash flow is so “tremendous” that it pays a variable dividend on top of its regular dividend. And, of course, it has all the good value characteristics. Meanwhile, Tracey has been patient with Fiserv (FISV), but she finally got rid of it today for a slight loss after pretty much running in place since being added in February. Read the full write-up for more on these moves.Healthcare Innovators: The top movers scoreboard was dominated by this portfolio on Friday with the top four names. Those winners were Twist Bioscience (TWST, +6.9%), Pacific Biosciences of California (PACB, +6.7%), Invitae (NVTA, +6.05%) and CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP, +5.9%).Headline Trader: “I suspect that the Fed will hold off on its announcement to pare its $120 billion monthly asset purchases until there are clear signs that the impacts of the Delta-dent are behind us.”This tapering delay should catalyze another wave of risk-on capital into public equities, especially if the averages continue to slip into the meeting.”Either way, I expect to see the market moving action next Wednesday afternoon (FOMC statement at 2:00 pm EST & Jerome Powell’s post-meeting news conference at 2:30 pm).” — Dan LaboeHave a Great Weekend!Jim Giaquinto
Recommendations from Zacks’ Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks’ private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we’ve made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks’ portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we’ve predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to “test drive” Zacks Ultimate for FREE > >  Zacks Investment Research

Peloton (PTON) Dips More Than Broader Markets: What You Should Know

This story originally appeared on Zacks

In the latest trading session, Peloton (PTON) closed at $103.42, marking a -1.43% move from the previous day. This change lagged the S&P 500’s 0.91% loss on the day.

– Zacks

Heading into today, shares of the exercise bike and treadmill company had lost 2.67% over the past month, lagging the Consumer Discretionary sector’s gain of 0.91% and the S&P 500’s gain of 0.01% in that time.Wall Street will be looking for positivity from PTON as it approaches its next earnings report date. In that report, analysts expect PTON to post earnings of -$1.15 per share. This would mark a year-over-year decline of 675%. Our most recent consensus estimate is calling for quarterly revenue of $802.71 million, up 5.91% from the year-ago period.PTON’s full-year Zacks Consensus Estimates are calling for earnings of -$1.98 per share and revenue of $5.37 billion. These results would represent year-over-year changes of -209.38% and +33.6%, respectively.It is also important to note the recent changes to analyst estimates for PTON. Recent revisions tend to reflect the latest near-term business trends. As a result, we can interpret positive estimate revisions as a good sign for the company’s business outlook.Our research shows that these estimate changes are directly correlated with near-term stock prices. We developed the Zacks Rank to capitalize on this phenomenon. Our system takes these estimate changes into account and delivers a clear, actionable rating model.The Zacks Rank system ranges from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell). It has a remarkable, outside-audited track record of success, with #1 stocks delivering an average annual return of +25% since 1988. The Zacks Consensus EPS estimate has moved 450.4% lower within the past month. PTON currently has a Zacks Rank of #5 (Strong Sell).The Leisure and Recreation Products industry is part of the Consumer Discretionary sector. This group has a Zacks Industry Rank of 35, putting it in the top 14% of all 250+ industries.The Zacks Industry Rank includes is listed in order from best to worst in terms of the average Zacks Rank of the individual companies within each of these sectors. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.To follow PTON in the coming trading sessions, be sure to utilize
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Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs > >Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Peloton Interactive, Inc. (PTON): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here.

Stocks Cut Losses Amid Mixed Economic Data

This story originally appeared on Zacks

Stocks couldn’t add onto yesterday’s gains in Thursday’s session, but they did manage to come well off their lows by the close and stay in positive territory for the week. Of course, there’s still one more day to go. Meanwhile, today’s economic data (jobless claims, retail sales) was mixed.The Dow plunged more than 270 points at its worst today, but significantly cut that deficit and declined only 63 points by the closing bell. It was down 0.18% to 34,751.32. The S&P also recovered from sharper losses and slipped by only 0.16% to 4473.75.The NASDAQ took the same trajectory as its counterparts, but managed to come all the way back and finish with a slight gain of 0.13% (or about 20 points) to 15,181.92.Stocks are coming back from their best session in the expectedly difficult month of September. The indices were all up by 0.5% or more on Wednesday, which snapped the NASDAQ’s five-day losing streak.“This week we have formed a pattern in the S&P between the 21-day moving average and the 50-day moving average. The 21-day is getting sold, while the 50-day is being bought. Whichever gives in first, will likely give us our market direction over the short-term,” said Jeremy Mullin in Counterstrike.“It’s really hard to make a determination of that direction right now. If I had to guess, the bulls will win out again and that 50-day will hold up once more.”Today’s economic data was mixed. Let’s go with the good news first. Retail sales in August rose 0.7%, which marks a substantial improvement over July’s more than 1% plunge. Most importantly though, the result was better than expectations for a 0.7% loss, which shows that consumers are still spending money despite the delta variant.However, jobless claims were underwhelming with the print coming in at 332,000 last week, which was about 12K more than expected. It was also higher than last week’s results, which means we’ve come off the pandemic-era low slightly.Stocks have a good chance to rebound from last week’s sharp declines. However, tomorrow is one of those option expiration days, so we may see a spike in volume. Let’s hope for a solid end to the week…Today’s Portfolio Highlights:Home Run Investor: The shipping space isn’t known for its consistency over the years, but these are different times with companies now being able to contract out big percentages of their fleets. Brian has a shipping winner in one of his other portfolios, so he decided to add some exposure over here as well by adding Euroseas Ltd. (ESEA). The company operates in the dry cargo, drybulk and container shipping markets. It doesn’t have the greatest earnings history (as is normal for this space), but the most recent quarter included a positive surprise of 27%. The high demand has analysts raising their earnings estimates, which sent ESEA all the way to Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) status. The editor also appreciates topline growth expectations of 71% for this year and another 40% for next, as well as its “dramatically” improving margins. Read the full write-up for more on today’s addition.Surprise Trader: Sometimes Dave likes to “sprinkle in” the occasional Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), since stocks with lower expectations can potentially catch the market off guard and soar after a solid report. The editor sees such potential with Darden Restaurants (DRI), which has an impressive record of beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate that stretches back years. The Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse company topped expectations by 11.5% last time, and has a positive Earnings ESP of 1.69% for the quarter coming before the bell on Thursday, September 23. Dave added DRI with a 12.5% allocation on Thursday, while also selling Agilent Tech (A) for more than 9% in just a little over a month. Learn more about today’s action in the complete commentary.Technology Innovators: With trillions of dollars likely to be spent on infrastructure, Brian thinks that Bentley Systems (BSY) could be a “real sleeper” moving forward. This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) provides software solutions to engineers, architects and the like for the design, construction and operation of infrastructure. The company has a great earnings history with positive surprises in each of the last four quarters and an average beat of 32% over that time. Being an Internet software name, the editor is most interested in its growth and margins rather than more traditional valuation metrics. BSY is expected to generate full-year growth of 20%, while operating margins have moved to 25% from 20% over the past three quarters. Read the full write-up for a lot more on this new addition.Have a Good Evening,Jim Giaquinto
Recommendations from Zacks’ Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks’ private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we’ve made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks’ portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we’ve predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to “test drive” Zacks Ultimate for FREE > >  Zacks Investment Research

3M (MMM) Dips More Than Broader Markets: What You Should Know

This story originally appeared on Zacks

3M (MMM) closed the most recent trading day at $182.66, moving -0.83% from the previous trading session. This move lagged the S&P 500’s daily loss of 0.16%.

– Zacks

Heading into today, shares of the maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics had lost 6.27% over the past month, lagging the Conglomerates sector’s loss of 2.11% and the S&P 500’s gain of 0.46% in that time.MMM will be looking to display strength as it nears its next earnings release, which is expected to be October 26, 2021. The company is expected to report EPS of $2.45, up 0.82% from the prior-year quarter. Meanwhile, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenue is projecting net sales of $8.92 billion, up 6.79% from the year-ago period.MMM’s full-year Zacks Consensus Estimates are calling for earnings of $10.11 per share and revenue of $35.38 billion. These results would represent year-over-year changes of +15.68% and +9.92%, respectively.Investors should also note any recent changes to analyst estimates for MMM. Recent revisions tend to reflect the latest near-term business trends. As such, positive estimate revisions reflect analyst optimism about the company’s business and profitability.Research indicates that these estimate revisions are directly correlated with near-term share price momentum. We developed the Zacks Rank to capitalize on this phenomenon. Our system takes these estimate changes into account and delivers a clear, actionable rating model.The Zacks Rank system, which ranges from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell), has an impressive outside-audited track record of outperformance, with #1 stocks generating an average annual return of +25% since 1988. Over the past month, the Zacks Consensus EPS estimate remained stagnant. MMM is currently a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).Investors should also note MMM’s current valuation metrics, including its Forward P/E ratio of 18.22. This valuation marks a discount compared to its industry’s average Forward P/E of 18.85.We can also see that MMM currently has a PEG ratio of 1.92. This metric is used similarly to the famous P/E ratio, but the PEG ratio also takes into account the stock’s expected earnings growth rate. The Diversified Operations was holding an average PEG ratio of 1.7 at yesterday’s closing price.The Diversified Operations industry is part of the Conglomerates sector. This industry currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 38, which puts it in the top 15% of all 250+ industries.The Zacks Industry Rank gauges the strength of our individual industry groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.You can find more information on all of these metrics, and much more, on
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Google Adds Data Back to Search Terms Report—What's the Catch?

Google Adds Data Back to Search Terms Report—What's the Catch?

Maybe I nerd out over PPC too much, but I think looking through the search terms report is the most entertaining activity. When else do you have the opportunity to get inside the heads of your audience and see what they’re typing into Google? Last year, Google took away some of the fun with limitations they placed on the data. I was among many advertisers bummed out about it. But just last week on September 9, Google announced it would be adding some new data to the search terms report.

So what are these changes? Are they all positive? Read on to find out:

What’s improving in the Google Ads search terms report.
What the trade-off is.
Comments from the PPC community on what this change means.
Four tips on how to make the most of the data you have.
Google adds new data to the search terms report—an improvement?

On September 9, Google announced that it will be making improvements to the search terms report tool within the advertising platform. Google stated that, effective immediately, search terms that pulled in impressions but no clicks will now show. So you may already be seeing this in your account!

This is different from it previously only showing popular queries that pulled in clicks. While you’ll still only be able to see the highest volume terms that meet privacy thresholds, this at least gives advertisers a bit more to work with.

They also did us the favor of having this change apply to some of our historical data as well. The new search terms reporting will be applicable to all data going back to February 1, 2021.

So, if you want to get a better idea of what you’ve been showing up for this past year, that’s now possible.

For further context…

The Google Ads search terms report used to show us all the queries our ads showed for. It gets me fondly nostalgic just thinking back on that. 

But in September 2020, Google Ads reduced the visibility in the search terms report to only show queries that “a significant number of users searched for” to maintain privacy between searcher and advertiser. 

Many advertisers were unhappy about these limitations, pleading with Google to give us the data we have a right to.

One of many angry tweets in response to Google’s 2020 announcement.

So this is what Google means in its 2021 update when it says “We’ve heard your feedback on last year’s search terms report updates.” We still can’t see low-volume queries, but for now, this recently released update is the closest we’ve gotten to an improvement.

But Google is also removing some data in 2022

I can’t believe I thought Google would let us off this easy! Of course, there’s a catch with this change.Although Google is expanding the search terms report to include high volume search queries with impressions but no clicks, there is a give-take here.

In February 2022, Google will be removing search terms in historical reports that don’t meet the privacy threshold volume established in September 2020.

What this means is, right now, if you look at your search terms report data for any date range prior to September 2020, you will still be able to see low-volume search terms.

But in February 2022, this will no longer be possible. All search term data, pre- and post-September 2020, will have the same limitations—showing only search terms with high enough volume to protect privacy.

However, this was some time ago. With the ever-changing search space, looking back on old search terms you showed for years ago may not do you much good anyway.

Thoughts from the PPC community on the search terms report update

I’m not the only who has an opinion on this change, check out what other PPC thought leaders are saying about this particular Google update:

General sentiment: this is good news

PPC Expert Navah Hopkins mentions the importance of this announcement to advertisers—and that we should get pumped about it.

Image source

Removal of old search term data is a bummer, but not a major loss

Search Engine Land sat down with senior product manager at Google, Pallavi Naresh, who stated that this shouldn’t be a major loss:

“‘Most advertisers will continue to see most of their queries prior to Sept 1, 2020…We are only removing historical queries that did not meet the new thresholds for search query reporting that we established in September 2020. We are removing this data as part of our ongoing effort to make our privacy thresholds consistent across Google.’”

This doesn’t assure us that our pre-September 2020 search terms report data will still be helpful—after all, seeing “most of” your queries may not necessarily be what you need if the ones not included in the report are the ones you are adding to your negative keywords list.

However, as I stated earlier, old search terms from a year ago or longer may not be useful information. So all in all, it doesn’t seem to be a major loss.

More Google updates are coming down the line

Greg Finn, another PPC thought leader, reminds us about the part in Google’s announcement regarding more updates to come. 

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Tips for the new search terms report changes

This may not be the break-through search terms update everyone was hoping for, but it’s a change nonetheless. Here are a few ways to take this update in stride:

1. Take inventory of old searches

Since we’re potentially losing past searches from before September 2020 (depending on the privacy thresholds) you may want to take a sweep through for anything notable. You can take inventory of any past search terms you may want to use as keywords, negatives, or ad copy ideas for future.

Similarly, now that we have access to more searches from February 2021 to now, take a look through your past searches from this year and see if anything new catches your eye.

Aaron Levy, head of paid search at Tinuiti, has the same idea, telling advertisers to “harvest your long term trends.”

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2. Start looking through your current searches more regularly

Remember, we now have the ability to see a bit more into our current search terms! The practice of making regular check ups on the search terms report may have been abandoned by some folks due to the previous September 2020 changes. If this sounds like you, try incorporating a search terms review back intoyour regular PPC audit routine.

Searches with impressions but no clicks can be just as telling because they indicate those users were not inclined to click on your ad. So think about improvements you could make to improve your CTR (improving your headlines or adding extensions, for example).

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3. Be on the lookout for more info on the Insights page

At the very end of the announcement, Google slyly hinted at providing even more resources on its new beta tool, the Insights page.

The Insights page will be similar to the recommendation section where you can get help on overall performance, but it will also provide information on trends within your industry.

The platform mentioned that, in the coming months, the Insights page will be built out to include “search terms themes” to give you a better idea of the types of searches you’re showing up for.

Here’s the official quote from Google on this:

“Our goal is to provide you with a deeper understanding of how your customers find you on Search. In the coming months, we’ll be giving you even more resources on the Insights page to help you understand the search query themes that drove performance in your campaigns—even if those queries don’t appear in your search terms report.”

4. Use Auction Insights and Google Trends for extra help

Lastly, these changes to the search terms report aren’t super significant. I can anticipate some advertisers, myself included, still wanting more. While this may be the best we can get from the search terms report for now, you can piece together what your SERP looks like elsewhere.

Auction insights is a great place to start because, while it doesn’t indicate what searches triggered your competitors to show, you at least know who else was sharing the SERP with you. This is key tounderstanding the competition space in your industry.

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Additionally, you can always rely on Google Trends to help you get a better feel of what search queries people are interested in over time and location.

Both can help you better understand your searchers’ experience on the SERP when used in conjunction with the search terms report.

Another day, another (hopefully helpful) change from Google?

When push comes to shove, this change should assist most advertisers in maintaining some control over what queries their ads show for.

Even with the trade-off of losing some historical searches from years past, this change is the closest thing to a positive or helpful one from Google Ads that we’ve seen in a while.

Either way, you can see that these changes won’t stop coming from Google. Therefore, it’s best to take them in stride and see how you can make every update work for your business.

So, what are you going to do to make this change work in your favor? Let us know in the comments!