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What do I do if my keywords are inactive for search?

Your keywords may be marked 'inactive for search' and stop showing your ads on search results if they don't have a high enough Quality Score and maximum cost-per-click (CPC). This is another way of saying that your keyword or ad group's maximum CPC doesn't meet the minimum bid required to trigger ads on Google or its search network partners. 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.

Remember that keywords marked inactive for search are inactive only for search. They may continue to trigger ads for content sites if you have the Google content network enabled for that campaign. This is because the AdWords system analyzes all available keywords to best match your ads with sites that have similar themes and topics. Thus, a keyword marked as inactive for search may continue to generate clicks and charges on the content network.

* Note, if your inactive keywords are in a campaign using the Budget Optimizer™, learn more here.

If your keyword is inactive for search, you have the following options:




  • Increase your keyword's Quality Score by optimizing for relevancy.
    Optimization, which is a technique for improving the quality of your keywords, ad, and campaign, is the best way to increase your keyword's performance without raising costs. Try to combine your keyword with two to three other words to create a more specific keyword phrase. This will result in better targeting, and potentially, better performance. For example, make single keywords more targeted by turning them into descriptive phrases ('car' to 'car buying service'). You can also narrow your targeting options (such as to regional targeting) or matching types (like exact match). We also suggest adding your keyword to your ad text. Visit our Optimization Tips page for more suggestions.

  • Increase your keyword's maximum CPC to the recommended minimum bid.
    Your keyword's minimum bid is the amount required to trigger ads on Google and is determined by your keyword's Quality Score. When your maximum CPC falls below the minimum bid, your keyword will be inactive for search. For this reason, you can simply increase your maximum CPC to the minimum bid to re-activate your keywords. Learn the different ways to increase your maximum CPC to the minimum bid.

  • Delete the keyword.
    To start from scratch, you can simply delete all your keywords that are inactive for search. If you delete an inactive keyword and then add it back to your account in any other format or any other location (placing it in another ad group, for instance), our system will still take the keyword's past account-wide performance into consideration. A poor performer can affect an entire ad group and/or campaign, if it is used multiple times. For this reason, we recommend you regularly review your account's performance and either optimize your keyword or increase its maximum CPC to the minimum bid.

  • Do nothing.
    Let the keywords stay inactive for search. If search behavior works in your favor -- such as if more users search for your keyword, thus increasing its relevancy -- your keyword might be re-activated. However, we recommend you choose one of the preferred options above to keep your keyword performing well and triggering ads.

Remember that keywords marked inactive for search may still continue to generate impressions on the content network.

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