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If you are a small time PPC advertiser or an SEO using the Google keyword planner for organic search optimization you would have had the shock of your life to find that Google has restricted your access to valuable search insights.
From early August only the account with an active paying campaign above a certain amount were given access to the usual insights that were available through the Google Keyword Planner and many small time advertisers and SEOs were looking to Google for a reason for this drastic change.
According to Google, these restrictions were added with the intention of preventing 'bots' and other services from abusing the intended use of keyword planner. In a statement released nearly a month back Google explained their position;
"This change was made so that we can consistently give advertisers the data they need to optimize their accounts while preventing "bots" and other services from abusing the intended use of Keyword Planner. The search volume estimates, though displayed differently in some cases, still provide an accurate and helpful view of how many clicks and impressions keywords may receive,"
Other than being purposely vague, this statement gave rise to many questions and fears among small-scale advertisers, bloggers, and SEOs using the planner for organic search optimization and pre-campaign calculations.
Adding insult to injury some users who escaped the first cut came to the shocking realization that once they have exceeded a yet to be specified limit of keyword research their keyword planner too riveted back to giving vague ranges between 0, 1-100, 100-1k, 1k-10k, 10k-100k, 100k-1M and 1M+.
If you are a small or medium level advertiser, who are yet to see these changes, you might end up triggering the limited data view by reaching a vague limit on the number of searches for search volume data. As Google is yet to be specific what this limit is, you can also be a big spender on Google and still get your keyword search data choked in the midway if you are conducting what Google considers to be 'too many searches'
Understandably all these sudden changes have made many online advertisers and SEOs very displeased with Google. Although the free Google keyword insight was purely a gift and you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, many feel that Google is fast drifting away from its corporate slogan 'Don't be Evil'.
While agreeing that nothing ever comes totally free and that either someone else is paying for it or you are paying for it with your advertising budget, the latest move by Google seems to have tilted the field in favor of big advertisers further.
In a different light, the recent changes to Google AdWords keyword tool can also be interpreted as a not so gentle nudge to the small and medium businesses towards the Google local pack search ads while allocating more space in traditional search engine ads for bigger players.
In the meantime, at the face of rising discontent Google AdWords Help suggested using the forecasting tool as an alternative to getting around the difficulties that arises when planning a new search network campaign.
"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,"
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