Google AdWords has once again begun restricting access to the AdWords Keyword Planner tool for those who are not advertising.
In June, Google AdWords turned off access to the Keyword Planner tool for those who did not have an active AdWords campaign running. However, they later backed away from this, and instead said it was a “technical issue” affecting some accounts. But many saw it as writing on the wall that Google would begin to restrict or throttle information unless there was an active campaign within the account.
Ramesh Singh spotted this in AdWords while using the Keyword Planner tool:
Instead of detailed information, Google is instead only showing a number range for the average monthly searches, with a notice at the top that states “This page shows ranges for search volumes. For a more detailed view, set up and run a campaign.”
For numbers, there is a wide range between 1,000 and 10,000 for those doing keyword research. But for overall totals, showing 100,000 to 1,000,000 total would be fairly useless for anyone using these numbers for research reasons.
Singh confirmed that he was logged into an AdWords account, but that it does not have any active campaigns currently running. It was an older account (4-5 years old) from before Google asked for credit card information.
By comparison, here is what I see within an account that has been set up previously:
I also tried to access it through a second account that had never used AdWords previously, and I was unable to access it unless I completed the set up steps, which include setting up a campaign, adding a budget AND adding a credit card number. I could not get access to it unless I completed those steps. Even when clicking on the keyword planner link in the search results, I was redirected to the AdWords homepage to login, or if I was logged in, I was redirected to the setup process again.
Previously, Google said that older legacy AdWords accounts would continue to have access to the Keyword Planner, but new accounts would need to set up a campaign – even if it wasn’t active – to access the Keyword Planner. But now, those legacy accounts are being restricted to more generalized data only.
Many SEOs regularly use the Keyword Planner tool and this restriction to those with active AdWords campaigns will be a big loss. While there are third party keyword tools, for those SEOs that don’t want to pay for pricey keyword tools, the Keyword Planner tool from AdWords is invaluable. And for many small businesses, a $100+ per month keyword tool is cost prohibitive for those wanting to do some searches on keywords in their industry for content ideas or similar keyword ideas, just as AdWords is also cost prohibitive to many small businesses.
Google also recently changed the Keyword Planner tool to no longer show detailed search volume for individual keywords and are instead showing search volumes for grouped search variant keywords. This change also hurt the SEO industry for those looking for detailed information on individual keywords – often used to determine which similar keywords have a higher search volume when considering terms to SEO pages for.
John Mueller did talk about the possibility of bringing a similar keyword tool to Google Search Console, if SEOs had the need for this data, when Google AdWords changed from individual keyword search volumes to grouped ones. And if Google AdWords continues to restrict detailed keyword search volume data to advertisers only, it would make another great reason for having an SEO specific keyword tool in Search Console for SEOs.
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