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Search Query Report visibility

At the start of September this year, Google fundamentally changed their Search Query Report (SQR) with little warning – meaning that you can no longer see every search term click you are buying.

A quick summary of what we previously had, versus now;

  • Previous: You bid on a keyword “digital media” on phrase match and get 3 clicks. As it is phrase match, these three clicks may have been on; “digital media agency”, “digital media tracking” and “digital media performance” all of which are visible within an SQR report
  • Now: Same keyword, the same number of clicks. The SQR may show 1 click on “digital media agency” and that the campaign has had 3 clicks.

But what of those other 2 clicks?

You still had them, they’ll be in every report and you’ll see that the campaign drove them in your analytics – and you definitely paid for them. But no search query. The change has been live for one month, and after reviewing across a range of clients in multiple verticals, we’re seeing the transparency in paid search slowly fade away.

A relatively old figure from 2017 states that 15% of search queries seen across the search giant are new each day. Not hard to believe as people use figures, dates, years, months, and variables within search queries (eg. Junior ISA April 2020 rate). But now, there is no way to know or understand this as trends change and user searches evolve.

All Response Media viewpoint.

We are open and transparent with clients – from planning to performance – and this limits our ability to do this, to some degree. We will continue to review the data we have and make decisions based on it. If performance of this ‘non-transparent’ portion of terms underperforms, it will impact the overall account as we’re seeing above and with little ability to influence, will hurt the overall campaign and channel.

It will certainly up the ante on ensuring we manage the percentage of terms we have visibility on, regular and detailed SQRs.

And a final thought to end on: could this be voice search becoming more mainstream and Google choosing to exclude?

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