Google confirmed changing Search Volume Reporting Method for KW Variants

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2016年08月01日 

Symptoms

As many media(Google’s Keyword Planner Now Combines Keywords for Search Volume(TheSEMPost), What the heck is going on with Google Keyword Planner?(Search Engine Land)) have reported, Google Keyword Planner has changed the way it calculates search volumes for keyword variants, i.e. ”bag” and “bags”, “ppc” and “pay per click”, etc. in late June 2016.

The change affects Japanese keywords as well. In May 2016, Google Keyword planner showed independent search volumes for each variant. (Table 1)

Click to enlarge
Table 1, search volumes in May 2016
(Table 1, search volumes in May 2016)

But in July 2016, it showed the same volume for most of the variants. (Table 2)

Click to enlarge
Table 2, search volumes in July 2016
(Table 2, search volumes in July 2016)

Response from Google

In July 22, 2016, Google AdWords support team responded to my inquiries, and confirmed that the change is official and won’t be rolled back. Here’s the summary:

Q

It seems that Google Keyword Planner has changed the ways it calculates search volumes for similar keywords in late June 2016.

  • 1: Will this change applied for all variants for certain queries?
    Some groups of variants shows the same volume, but in some groups some of the variants show independent volumes.
  • 2: Are there any ways to see search volumes calculated by the old method?
A
  • 1: Google Keyword Planner was updated, and consequently Search volumes for queries can include volumes for variants.
  • 2: Our tech team answered that there’s no plan to roll back the function.
  • 3: There’s no way to see search volumes calculated by the old method. If we get lots of feedback, of course we will take notice.

Why this change matters

This change can cause data discrepancy and multiple counting.

If you have automated analysis and reporting process, it is essential to distinguish whether search volume increase is due to “true trending” or “false counting due to this change”. Please check how your analysis & reporting process deal with variants.

1: Data Discrepancy (if you store data regularly & locally)

It can cause data discrepancy if you regularly store search volume data. For instance, we stored search volumes once in two months, and here’s how that data looks like.

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Table 1, search volumes in May 2016
(Table 3, Example of search volume data stored locally, July 2016)

It looks like their search volumes hopped up in May 2016, we found trending keywords!
...Of course it is not correct. Observed hopping-up is due to our data storage method. Data in Green cells are stored after the change, but ones in red cells are done before that. In other words, data in green cells contain volumes for its variants, but red cells do not.

Click to enlarge
Table 2, search volumes in July 2016
(Table 4, Example of search volume data stored locally, July 2016)

As you can see, their search volumes are not changing so drastically, and are grouped.

Click to enlarge
Table 2, search volumes in July 2016
(Table 5, Example of search volume data, July 2016)

2: Multiple counting

Before the change, we have to sum up volumes for each variants, since they provided independent volumes. In this case, proper search volumes for “Meguro-ku relocation” and its variants in April 2016 is “20+10+30=60”.

Click to enlarge
Table 2, search volumes in July 2016
(Table 6, Example of search volume data, May 2016)

But what if we apply the same formula to current data?

Click to enlarge
Table 2, search volumes in July 2016
(Table 7, Example of search volume data, July 2016)

Search volumes for “Meguro-ku relocation” and its variants in June 2016 becomes 50+50+50=150! Trending!
Of course it is wrong. 50 is proper.

Takeaways:

Google confirmed update on Google Keyword Planner in late June 2016.
Many times, the search volumes for a keyword (i.e. ”bag”) include search volume for similar keywords (i.e. “bags”). This change can cause large increases in search volumes for certain queries.
If you save search volumes regularly on local, you can see large search volume increases in July 2016.
It can be a real increase, but it also can be a fake increase caused by this change.

Since Google confirmed this change is official and won’t be rolled back, the best way is to use current search volume and forget about past data.

In case you need independent search volumes for variants, please send feedback to Google. If there is lots of feedback, Google will take notice.

Written by HIROOKA Ken

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