Zombie Keywords 101


Zombie keywords are enabled keywords that are not receiving traffic. Isolating these keywords into new ad groups and getting them paired with the right ads can bring them to life, creating opportunities for growth and increased market share.  By bringing zombie keywords back to life, you can unearth value that has been lying dormant and is only waiting to be realized. How many of your zero impression keywords are zombies? Find out how you can reanimate zombie keywords to create new pathways that help you add revenue to your paid search account.

What are zombie keywords?

Every paid search account has keywords in it that are not receiving any traffic, even though they are enabled. Having keywords with 0 impressions is not unusual, but it’s always hard to tell whether it is because there just isn’t traffic for those keywords, or if quality is just too low for the keywords to qualify into auctions. Many of these keywords have value, and if you spend some time creating higher quality pathways for them with new ads, they will come online. Thus the only way to tell for sure is to try to improve the quality and see if this brings the keywords to life. We call these “Zombie” keywords since improving the quality with new ads causes them to rise from the dead. 

Why do zombie keywords happen?

When dealing with large accounts with thousands of keywords, it is incredibly difficult to make sure every keyword has the highest quality ad pairings, especially if keywords catering to different search intents are combined in the same ad group. Zombie keywords occur for a number of reasons; examples include blending of ad groups, the wrong match type, or low relevance based on the ad group or campaign the keyword is assigned to. The common theme shared in these examples is the poor quality of ads or landing pages.

Why should zombie keywords matter to you?

When dealing with large accounts, it’s not uncommon for marketers to pack ad groups with keywords that have different intents for the sake of keeping things manageable. When you bunch keywords together into an ad group with different themes, you will end up serving the same set of ads across all of them even though you need to cover a lot of different search intents. This often results in many valuable keywords being inactive or dormant because they are not being paired with the right ad.  Consistent ad deployment and testing will uncover keywords within accounts that were not paired with the correct ad previously. This process creates pathways that Google clearly thinks are worthwhile. It can then start sending traffic to these ads, opening up a larger market share.

What’s the outcome?

When you can present multiple avenues and pathways Google thinks could be viable based on the marketer’s target ROAS or CPA, it gives Google the opportunity to effectively pick and choose which of the pathways or queries might have the best return on investment. It can then start sending traffic to these ads, unlocking more opportunities that will grow your market share. This is going to give Google more to draw from when determining whether or not these keywords are going to be efficient. If Google can find additional traffic within these zombie keywords, or anything at the tail end of the account performance that would be more coherent, it can use that to reinvest those funds and expand into other areas in the account. The results of opening up all the possible pathways will be identifying the right ad, at the right time, for the right person.  You only know you have zombie keywords when you bring them to life. How many of your zero impression keywords are zombies?