Around our office we’ve been discussing the definitions for various keyword status’ within AdWords. We’ve deciphered three tiers of keyword status:

  • Active and displaying ads
  • Rejected and not displaying ads
  • Active but not displaying ads

The first two are not difficult to understand: either your keyword is approved or it isn’t. Very simple. It is the third status that can be puzzling. This is when your keyword is approved and eligible for search, but it’s not displaying ads. Using the ad diagnostic tool you may see that this third status is due to low search volume. Your keyword may not be active now but if search volume increases then that particular keyword should become active – which means (from a certain point of view) that you’re ahead of your time!

The keywords that tend to be inactive due to search volume are those within the long tail that are more complex with 3-5 terms in the keyword. As you know, the whole point of the long tail is to be as dominant in your search marketing as possible, and these complex keywords are integral because they can generate low-cost conversions because they are specific to your target audience.

Studies have show that user’s search queries are becoming longer and more complex. A few years ago the average search query was 1-3 words in length, but now we’re seeing 3-5 word phrases becoming more popular. This is a result of people understanding how to use search engines more wisely. They are learning that the more specific they are in their search, the more likely they are to find exactly what they’re looking for. This where the whole “you’re ahead of your time” part comes in!

If you’re keywords are stuck in the third status (active but not displaying ads) and they are 3-5 term keywords, then you just may have to wait for users to evolve as search terms become longer and more complex! So, don’t despair and don’t delete those keywords in status purgatory, keep them in your account because you may be ahead of your time – and the rest of the world needs to catch up to your keyword!