SEO

Google’s auto-pause for idle keywords: overreach or overdue?

A short while after Google announced it would pause low-activity keywords, the Optmyzr team ran a study and got reactions from paid search experts to figure out how marketers may be affected, what shifts (if any) it would cause in advertiser management styles and what risks come with this update.

The big picture. Google’s plans to automatically pause long-idle ad keywords have sparked debate among marketers – some see it as overreach, while others say it’s overdue account maintenance.

What’s happening? Google will start automatically pausing search ad keywords and ad groups that have gone 13+ months without any impressions or activity. The change, initially met with mixed reactions, aims to streamline the management of stale entities.

Screenshot 2024 06 12 At 18.25.10

The concerns. Some advertisers believe leaving dormant keywords maintains account history and relevance signals. Others fear prematurely pausing viable terms that see sporadic bursts of traffic.

The data. The Optmyzr study of over 9,400 Google Ads accounts found:

  • 84% of accounts had 50%+ keywords with zero impressions in 13+ months.
  • Pausing those terms likely won’t hurt performance for most.
  • Only 145 large accounts (1.5%) risk potential performance loss.
Screenshot 2024 06 12 At 18.53.52

Why we care. While most small account advertisers may welcome the account clean-up, larger brands with established keyword-level control may face challenges adapting to increasingly automated, opaque Google Ads management

The upside. Most accounts stand to gain streamlined structures and simpler budgeting after the pauses, aligning with Google’s push for automation over manual management.

What they’re saying. “Google continues to blur the lines between platform and ad partner” by making organizational calls like this, marketing consultant Kirk Williams, owner of ZATO, told Optmyzr.

Bottom line. While valid fears exist around losing viable keywords, most advertisers likely have little to lose – and may see gains – once long-dormant terms get automatically parked.

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About the author

Anu Adegbola

Anu Adegbola has been Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land since 2024. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media, video and more.

In 2008, Anu’s career started with

 delivering digital marketing campaigns (mostly but not exclusively Paid Search) by building strategies, maximising ROI, automating repetitive processes and bringing efficiency from every part of marketing departments through inspiring leadership both on agency, client and marketing tech side.

Outside editing Search Engine Land article she is the founder of PPC networking event – PPC Live, host of weekly podcast PPCChat Roundup, and brand evangelist at ClickTech. 
She is also an international speaker with some of the stages she has presented on being SMX (US), SMX (Munich), Friends of Search (Amsterdam), brightonSEO, The Marketing Meetup, HeroConf (PPC Hero), SearchLove, BiddableWorld, SESLondon, PPC Chat Live, AdWorld Experience (Bologna) and more.

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