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)
But in July 2016, it showed the same volume for most of the variants. (Table 2)
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:
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.
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.
As you can see, their search volumes are not changing so drastically, and are grouped.
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”.
But what if we apply the same formula to current data?
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.
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