As paid search managers, keywords are a crucial part of our daily grind. It is important that we continue to learn and develop better understandings of how each and every one contributes to our search marketing strategy, so we can easily make informed decisions. What’s working? Why? What’s not working? Why? These are some of the questions that any diligent account manager should be asking on a daily basis.

In my personal experience, I have developed a love-hate relationship with many of my keywords. Although you might be thinking I’m crazy at this point, allow me to explain myself further as I’m sure some of you have been here at one point or another. On one hand, I’m very proud of the diamond in the rough keywords that continue to raise the bar and convert consistently for my clients at low costs. On the other hand, there are also those stubborn keywords that I struggle with on a daily basis for several reasons. Sound familiar? Whether they’re eating up too much budget, leading to low Quality Scores or becoming restricted by something that’s out of your control, not all choice keywords like to cooperate.

For the purpose of today’s post, I’d like to focus on the variety of AdWords’ Keyword statuses in order to provide a better understanding of how they function and affect the keywords in your account, in addition to offering up potential fixes.   As of today, Google incorporates four major types of keyword-level statuses, some of which could cause your ads not to show:


Inherited keyword statuses appear when your keyword is contained within a paused campaign or ad group. If that is the case, your keyword then inherits that status as well. For example, your ads will not show if the campaign/ad group is paused, pending, deleted, suspended or ended.

  • Diagnosis: If your keyword’s status says campaign paused or deleted, reactivate the campaign or ad group. If status shows campaign pending, your keywords will automatically activate once your campaign reaches it’s scheduled start date.


Manual keyword statuses appear after taking a direct action on the keyword itself, rather than the campaign or ad group. Manual actions include pausing or deleting keywords.

  • Diagnosis: If your keyword’s status is showing paused, simply reactivate it. If your keyword was deleted, however, you cannot resurrect it in the same ad group. In order to “reactivate” a deleted keyword, your only option is to replicate that same keyword in a new/separate ad group.


Keyword approval statuses provide you with information regarding the editorial review process. Essentially, you can then use this status to figure out exactly where in that process your keyword actually is. Keyword statuses of this nature include eligible, disapproved or site suspended.

  • Diagnosis: If your keyword status says eligible, they can trigger your ads. However, if the status is showing disapproved or site suspended, you need to take further action and ensure that your keywords abide by Google’s keyword guidelines and policies. For example, a keyword may become disapproved for improper use of a competitor’s trademark without permission.


System-related keyword statuses indicate that something else, such as a lack of search volume, is affecting that keyword’s ability to trigger your ads. This is Google’s way of ensuring that the AdWords auction isn’t clouded by unqualified or obscure search terms. In this case, for example, a keyword could be too specific or severely misspelled to gain any traffic. Statuses of this nature include Low search volume and Rarely shown due to low Quality Score.

  • Diagnosis (Low Search Volume): If your keyword status is showing Low search volume, it has been temporarily suspended from the AdWords auction because: a) there is little, to no search traffic on Google properties for that keyword, or b) it’s irrelevant to users’ searches. If this is the case, you have two options. First, you could leave that keyword alone and see if people begin searching on that term in the future. This is particularly handy for advertisers looking to gain exposure for recently launched products or services. Your second option would be to simply delete that keyword and hit the drawing board for new ideas.
  • Diagnosis (Rarely shown due to low Quality Score): If your keyword status is appearing as Rarely shown due to low Quality Score, it has also been temporarily suspended from the AdWords auction and therefore your ads will not show a majority of the time. Fortunately, Quality Scores are dynamic values that can change over time, so you can do a few things to improve upon this and get your ads showing again: a) select only relevant keywords, b) choose a new destination URL that relates to your target keywords, b) insert your keywords into the headline and copy for your ads. The key here is relevancy, and Google is prepared to punish those who don’t practice the concept, so choose your keywords wisely!

At the end of the day, Google offers a variety of keyword statuses that could be harming your traffic without even knowing it. Developing an awareness for what these statuses are and the affects they’re having on your traffic is half the battle. Hopefully you were able to take away something insightful from today’s post, so I would encourage any and all of you to leave some commentary below. Thanks for reading.