Lost in the Shuffle: Why You Should Give Paused Keywords Another Chance

Many of you have probably worked on accounts with strict CPA goals. In an effort to meet those goals, you may have gone into the campaigns and paused high spend/no conversion keywords or those with CPAs above goal during a set timeframe. Hopefully, you took a look at these four metrics before pausing keywords as well. After said keyword audit, you may have seen an improvement in CPA and conversion rate, and so left those keywords paused in an effort to continue moving the needle for your account in the right direction.

Where you can run into issues with this strategy, though, is when you need to drive more volume to an account and there aren’t a lot of new keywords out there that can be added to help achieve this goal.

When you’re tasked with driving more volume while also maintaining efficiency, it becomes imperative to review your paused keywords and consider giving them another shot at efficiently driving conversions.

Conversion Volume Impact

We recently tested out re-enabling paused keywords in an account where we needed to drive more volume but had very thorough keyword coverage already in place. For this client, we conveniently have insight into which keywords not only drive free trials but also those that drive paid accounts, which is the ultimate goal.

We reviewed the data after a few months of running the keywords that had been paused and found that 19% of keywords that drove paid accounts were those that had been paused, and 10% of paid accounts created were from keywords that were previously paused. This was a big impact we were able to make simply by taking the time to review and re-enable keywords that were already in the account.


If you’re not super savvy yet with AdWords scripts, there is a fairly easy, more manual way you can unpause keywords and check back on performance.

Review the Keywords

First, you’ll want to review your paused keywords to determine which ones qualify to be re-tested. You’ll need to use your account-specific goals to make this determination.

Label Creation

Once you decide which keywords deserve another chance, simply create a label (named ‘Paused’ or some phrase that is easily identifiable) and add it to those keywords; then you can re-enable them at the start of a new month, or whenever you have determined will be a good time to test them, by creating an Automated Rule based on the label:


Automated Rules

Next, you can set up some more frequent pause Automated Rules to help ensure the newly re-enabled keywords don’t wreak havoc on your account. For example, you can set the rules to pause keywords that reach a certain spend threshold without converting or those whose CPA is too high.

I’d recommend setting these up for all keywords, for efficiency sake, and they will include your new test keywords as well. The frequency should depend on the volume of the account and your spend and CPA goals while also allowing the new keywords enough time to prove themselves. For instance, you wouldn’t want to set your Re-enable rule to run on the first of the month but have daily Pause automated rules because then some keywords might only get to run for one day before being paused again.

Longer-Term Keyword Review

So, you determined which keywords to re-test and created an automated rule to re-enable them, and you created frequent automated rules to pause high cost/no conversion or high CPA keywords. At this point, you should create a system for when and how to decide if terms just aren’t working well.

Again, the frequency you do this analysis depends on your account goals. In our account, we review the test keywords, which have the ‘Paused’ label, on a quarterly basis; if they have spent above a certain amount without converting over the past 12 months then I remove the ‘Paused’ label and those keywords are no longer re-enabled for testing.

Ultimately, paused keywords can be easily forgotten about and overlooked. But, with a little time spent and attention given, they can have a noticeable impact on account performance if given the chance.

What impact have you been able to make with your paused keyword reviews? What system do you have in place for this important analysis? Let us know in the comments below!