Today’s post on Inactive Keywords is the third blog post in our 5-day series focusing on Quality Score.

Picture this: You arrive at work before the birds begin to chirp. Before you can be “bothered” by email, you log into AdWords and compulsively check your previous day’s stats. Quickly thereafter, a discovery makes your jaw hit the floor. Those wonderful new keywords you added to your account yesterday are all labeled “Inactive for Search” and doing nothing better than collecting cyber-dust.

When Google labels a keyword as inactive for search, it is their way of telling you that your Quality Score is suffering because that keyword isn’t relevant to your ad text and/or landing page. The good news is there are ways to improve your keyword Quality Score status!

“This typically occurs when keywords aren’t as targeted as they could be, and the ads they deliver aren’t relevant enough to what a user is searching for.”

So, what can you do? Here are 3 actions you can take to get your inactive keywords back up and running:

  1. Increase Your Bid: While most of us are in the business of decreasing costs by operating with the lowest CPC’s possible, you may feel your keyword is important enough to bite the bullet. When Google labels your keyword inactive for search, they will automatically choose a new minimum bid. If you increase your max CPC to this new level, “whalah!” your keyword will become active again. Though as a word of warning, please be careful using this tactic. If the keyword in question is completely off the relevancy mark, Google may very well begin playing cat and mouse with you. After increasing your max CPC, Google may find that the keyword should still be inactive and could increase the minimum bid yet again! Take this as a solid hint that this keyword isn’t a good fit for that ad group, or your account for that matter.
  2. Improve Your Quality Score: In layman’s terms, optimize! First and foremost, include your keyword(s) in your ad text (this is PPC management 101)! As seen in the quote above, Google specifically calls this out as one of the main reasons keywords become inactive for search. By creating keyword rich ad copy, you will appease the AdWords gods and improve your relevancy to users, increase CTR and most importantly improve your Quality Score. After mastering your ad text relevancy, turn your focus to your landing pages. Think of this as a one-two punch: ad text is your right fist, and the landing page is your amazingly powerful left fist. By ensuring that your keywords are located on the landing page, you’ll knock-out Quality Score in no time!

    If it isn’t possible to include your keyword on the landing page or in the ad text, little red flags should be popping into your mind. Create a new ad group that can support this keyword with appropriate ads and landing pages. Google also recommends that you play around with match types (exact vs. broad) and targeting options to increase your Quality Score. While it may not be tied directly to Quality Score, also experiment with your balance of general and specific keywords. General keywords are far more likely to be labeled inactive for search and will benefit from special attention. It is recommended to use descriptive phrases over one-word keywords!

  3. Do Nothing: As odd as it sounds, this tactic could work for you. I have read on Google’s help section and actually heard it directly from my AdWords reps that doing nothing is a valid tactic for inactive keywords. It is possible that search trends could change your keyword’s relevancy, causing it to become active. In the meantime realize that while your keywords are Inactive for Search, they will be active on the content network. While this method can work, it requires patience and a little luck. However, since there is a risk of damage, (“A poor performer can affect an entire ad group and/or campaign.”) it is recommended to stick with tactics 1 or 2!

The next time you find that a keyword in your AdWords account is Inactive for Search, don’t let your jaw hit the floor. Brush off that cyber-dust and remember that you have options to get your keywords back in action. Increase your bids, get smart with Quality Score by improving your ad texts and landing page or just be patient. Choose your weapon.

If 5 days of Quality Score information isn’t enough to satisfy, stay tuned for our Google AdWords Quality Score Guide! Coming Soon.