Those who are familiar with using Google’s keyword planner tool for their keyword research may have noticed a significant change in the way the keyword volume data is reported.

Prior to this change, the keyword planner returned average monthly search volume for keywords inputted. For example:

Keyword planner

This was helpful because it enabled web owners and marketing agencies to prioritise keywords based on search popularity. They could then make an informed decision on which keywords to target, to maximise web traffic.

On 12th August, Google announced the following message in the AdWords Help forum:

We recently made a change to Keyword Planner that shows search volume data ranges based on spend and how you use the tool. This change aims to prevent “bots” from submitting an overwhelming number of searches in Keyword Planner, which was slowing down the tool and occasionally causing errors that prevented people from using the tool. We’ve heard your feedback that this limited view of search volume makes it difficult to plan new Search Network campaigns. In these cases, we recommend taking advantage of the forecasting feature in Keyword Planner. While search volume gives you a sense of the market size, other settings such as bid, budget, device, and more, affect how much of this search volume a single advertiser can receive. Forecasts, on the other hand, let you customize these settings for a more comprehensive view of how keywords might perform.

What do the changes to Google Keyword Planner mean for businesses?

The major change here is that the tool has replaced the average search volume with a range of values. These rages are significant, reporting 1,000 – 10,000 searches in some cases, which makes the data ambiguous.

google adwords

Whilst it’s not essential to know the exact search volume, it’s more of an issue if you factor percentage reach into your monthly reports where search volume and rank data are calculated.

One could be forgiven for assuming this to be another attempt by Google at pushing web owners towards paid advertising models. Google’s responses in the forums suggest you can resolve the issue by having an active ad campaign in AdWords. However, this does not mean you are expected to take up a permanent PPC residency.

Ginny Marvin from Search Engine Land put together this helpful step-by-step guide on how to overcome the changes to Google Keyword Tool and get better data from Google AdWords.