You may have noticed that Google just rolled out a number of sweeping changes to the way that their Keyword Planner works – navigating straight to the tool and then searching for keyword ideas now provides you with suggestions that are assigned to one of several average monthly search volume ranges, rather than the more specific keyword volume data that it used to provide:

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You will also notice that there is a small popup at the top of the screen, informing you that the data provided is now a non-specific range.

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Getting the the old-style (and much more specific) keyword volumes is still possible, but proves to be a slightly lengthier affair. Google make it clear that you will need to actually create a campaign to see accurate search volumes, but they don’t tell you that you now need to navigate to the keyword tool via the Adwords interface if you want to see accurate data.

Navigating through to the adwords interface doesn’t immediately solve the problem either: You’ll notice, almost straight away, that the old ‘Tools’ option is missing from the top nav, and that there’s no clear way to access the tool from the main dashboard:

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To access the keyword planner via Adwords, you now have to actually navigate to a campaign, then to tools, and then to the keyword planner, as if you were searching for keywords specifically associated with your campaign.

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You are then free to use the Adwords interface as normal, and you’ll notice that the old-style, fully accurate search volumes are provided when searching like this.

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Note: Navigating through to keyword planner using this method will delete all of your pre-saved preferences, such as target country. If you are not aware of this, you can accidentally do a fair amount of very flawed keyword research without realising.

Obviously this change means that you will need a functioning adwords account to search for accurate keyword search volumes, which is sure to irritate and perplex a great many merchants, and digital marketing professionals that want to research before they recommend setting up an Adwords account.

There are also rumours in circulation suggesting that you need to have a certain monthly spend before Google will start showing you accurate keyword data.

We have tried to test this using a dummy account; creating a test campaign with a daily cap of 1p, and then navigating through to the keyword planner as detailed above. Using this method, we did find that the keyword data was still provided in broad ranges, however more testing is needed before we could conclusively say that you need to be spending over a certain amount before you could access accurate data.

We look forward to finding out more about these changes, although we don’t think that they are entirely positive, and would love to hear from you if they have impacted on your business/marketing strategies!