What the updated Google Keyword Planner means for your inbound efforts

By Qarin Lövgren

What the updated Google Keyword Planner means for your inbound efforts

Google’s Keyword Planner is widely used by online marketers. The tool provides insights into what words to work with when creating content, and data on what queries to invest in for paid search ads. This summer, however, Google made an update—one that might have major implications for your content strategies...

Business blogging, offsite touchpoints and search engines are the primary assets for driving traffic, organic or paid, to most sites. And all these assets are parts of what today is known as inbound.  

A key success factor for inbound content is keyword analyses that are developed on the basis of the personas. And, the Keyword Planner in Adwords has always been the source for keyword evaluation. Then in June 2016 Google, for some reason, decided to occasionally group data for related terms.

Google’s search volumes are no longer logical

Even if the tool has been a bit imprecise since Google sealed all keyword searches for their signed-in search users in 2011, we have still been able to see the individual search volumes for all keywords. But now, instead of presenting the individual search volumes to each expression, Google randomly groups data for similar terms.

This means that you might get identical numbers for correlated words. And, that there is no logic to why some expressions are grouped and some are not.

As you can see below, abbreviations and the full phrase of the acronym sometimes have the same search volume, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes synonyms and close variants have the same results, sometimes not:



Click through rate


Click through rates





Search engine optimisation 673,000
UX 110,000
User experience            27,100
User interface



What are the consequences of the update?

Firstly, all tools that aggregate and combine Google’s search volumes now provide data that infrequently are off target. As the tools won’t reveal how the calculations have changed, you are at a high risk of putting your efforts into the wrong things.

Secondly, when we had more specific data for each keyword, it was easy to extract the words that were worth working with. Today you will end up with a lot of words that appear to be equally good. When writing, this is good because you will write better texts if you use synonyms and related words—but, if you are looking to spot keywords for your paid search, you are on thin ice. 

Should you alter your inbound strategies just because Google updates its tools?

Inbound marketing is about attracting your personas to your site and to build relations through their journey to purchase and becoming a promoter. And, paid search can be a strategic element of that journey.

On the other hand, organic results have always been and still are better for driving click troughs from the search results. And it is the relevant and compelling content that will have the highest click through rates

When several words are clustered you:
a) don’t know what words Google has grouped.
b) are pushed to buy more words for your Adwords campaigns; for the reason that many of the related words have identical search volumes.

So, invest your time wisely and let good content be your primary focus.

Data is only an indication

The search algorithms will become smarter. Since Google implemented the semantic algorithm, the Hummingbird, their search engine actually figures out what we search for.

As you can see below, it will not matter if you use synonyms, abbreviations, related words or different endings in your texts. When the wrong term is googled, the bolded words (i.e. the words that Google located from the query) is corrected:

Google understands your intent thanks to its semantic Hummingbird algoritm.

Put simply; today’s content creation is about intent optimisation—not about exact keywords. Consequently, you should consider search volumes as an indication and not as an exact figure.

What should you prioritise?

It has never been more important to provide information to the right person, at the right time and in the right context. To tailor our information, we monitor more and more and we use the data to deliver relevant messages when and where people are likely appreciate those.  

You who manage to shift from SEO to CEO, Customer Experience Optimisation, are likely to see more positive effects from your communication. Quality content with topic-based titles will drive more traffic than information focusing on specific keywords. Also, business blogging is, and will continue to be, key to inbound.

Voice search is on the rise, with an estimated 55% of households predicted to have a smart speaker by 2022. To optimise for voice search, use conversational and long-tail keywords, include question-based and local keywords, and create natural and valuable content. By following these tips, you can take advantage of the growing popularity of voice search.

Then again, chances are that Google’s update on its data is a good reason to re-prioritise; to put more efforts into creating compelling content (read well written texts with striking headlines and a varied language) and less time and money on paid ads...

Would you like to know more?

Talk to an expert
Qarin Lövgren
Copywriter and Conversion Specialist at Zooma since 2011. Qarin considers UX a business priority, whether it concerns copy, visual impact, or usability.
Keep me updated!