I’ve noticed something over the past year that is really starting to grind my gears.
To put this in context, I write a lot of cryptocurrency themed content and regular financial market content. For all of my clients, I need to find keywords for articles. My keyword research tool of choice used to be Google ads. However, this isn’t the case anymore.
Up until last year, it was easy to use Google ads to find keywords for all kinds of cryptocurrency-related topics. Now it’s not, because Google ads automatically removes keyword data when using its keyword planner tool.
To demonstrate, here’s what happens when you use the tool to search for blockchain or blockchain technology-related keywords:
It never used to be like this. Whenever I conduct keyword research, I let my buyers know what keywords I’m using and why. Because of this, I can pull up old deliveries and see that terms like ‘blockchain technology’ used to show up in Google ads as receiving 1,000 to 10,000 monthly searches and be low competition. (Meaning that terms can be effective for SEO when used in the right context.)
Now, you can argue that perhaps Google is trying to stop people from falling victim to cryptocurrency scams. However, terms like blockchain refer to the very legitimate programming science that goes into not just the creation of cryptocurrencies but also increasing numbers of new tech products.
Right now, most governments are moving data they have on you onto permission-based blockchain databases. The technology is out there, and it is relevant.
More to the point, people who fall victim to scams online often do so after looking for ways to make money quickly. Google, though, doesn’t censor these kinds of keyword searches.
All that said, I don’t just write about cryptocurrency. Last year, I created a gig targeting the legal marijuana industry. Whether you agree with the fact or not, products like CBD oil and even cannabis itself are now legal in many places. - The industry is legitimate.
For a while, everything was going fine. However, suddenly, Google ads started automatically removing all cannabis-related keyword ideas from keyword searches.
This is what you now get when searching for CBD oil-related search terms:
By comparison, here’s what you get when you search for “how to buy Xanax” - an often abused prescription drug:
Cryptocurrency and marijuana therapeutics aside, I keep stumbling upon Google ads censoring keyword ideas for several other subjects. These include:
- Boxing (But not cage Fighting)
- Some alternative health products.
- Tech products that are not part of the Google, Apple, or Microsoft family.
- A lot of terms to do with gardening, agriculture, and seeds, especially terms like seed starting (a term used to describe how to get seeds to germinate and when to plant them)
I am also not the only one aware of this.
I hate this. I hate this because there are obvious double standards, much of the censorship makes no logical sense, and I am noticing this happen more and more.
Neither do I think it unreasonable to suspect that a business like an heirloom potato seed company that I worked for recently, will never get anywhere near the first page of Google because Google seems to have a bias towards them. - Yet Google won’t tell them this or give them a reason why.
All this isn’t just censorship, it’s Google deciding what startups can and can’t be successful on the presumed basis of protecting people.
Thankfully, I have now started using different keyword research tools and I am advising clients who I think might be affected by this to run ads on different platforms. However, let’s face it, Google pretty much owns the Internet at this point.
The only question is, are you happy letting Google have this kind of power?