Improve PPC Campaigns With Negative Keyword Thinking

Improve PPC Campaigns With Negative Keyword Thinking

Improve PPC Campaigns With Negative Keyword ThinkingI see it time and time again; Companies who develop a PPC account of there own putting a lot of work in to their keyword lists, but overlooking 2 of the most critical areas that contribute to campaign success.

The first is a dependence on single, broad-match keywords. (I will get into this in a later post) The second is a lack or complete absence of negative keywords. It is incredibly important that a well-optimized campaign and it's ad groups have a good list of negative keywords.  This is what this article is set to discuss!

Negative keywords are words that stop your PPC ad from being shown should someone include that particular word, or phrase in their search. Negative keywords allow advertisers to filter out search results that have little or nothing to do with a particular product, service, or offering being advertised. It ensures that only those users searching for your offering will see your ad. It also means that with fewer ad impressions, you will (hopefully) acheive a higher click through rate. The better the click through rate for your keyword, the higher Google should place your ad in search results without having to pay more per click.

How Do Negative Keywords Work?

Here's an example of how negative keywords work.

Let's say that your are only selling new computers on your web site.

Using the Google keyword tool, here is a list of keywords Google returns a large number of searches for:

new laptop computers
buy new computers
new computer processors
computers in the news
purchase new computer
buy laptop computer
new computer software
new computer courses
buy computer books
buy computer memory

Since you only sell new computer systems, then having your ad appear for people searching for 'computer processors', 'software', 'memory', and 'books', or looking for 'computer courses' can adversely affect your campaign's performance. These people are not looking for full computer systems, and are more than likely unprepared to shop at that moment. Those looking for computer systems or laptops are ready to purchase, or have at least started the research step or their purchase. These are the visitors you want.  So by employing a negative keyword strategy you are able to ensure people searching for things you do not offer, do not see your ads!

Simply add 'processors', 'books', 'software', and 'courses' to your negative keyword list(s). Including these words means that anyone searching for them will not see your ad. The only people who can see your ad and click on it are those shopping for computers. By eliminating ad impressions (each time your ad appears is 1 impression) you do not desire, and targeting to a more focused audience, you increase the likelihood that your click thru rate and ad position will increase without having to spend more money per click.

How To Find Relevant Negative Keywords

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Keyword tools are a great source not only for relevant keywords, but for negative keywords as well. Entering a term will bring up countless variations of that keyword and related keywords. As you can see from the examples above, words that you do not want to be found for appear in the keyword tool results. All Google Adwords accounts have links to the AdWords KeyWord Tool under the Opportunities tab.

Google Analytics Keyword List

Google Analytics is another fantastic source for keywords being used to find not only your AdWords ads, but your site as a whole. Here at TechWyse we use an analytics filter to show not only what keyword Google believed was being search in your account, but what the exact wording was that the person entered. Finding negative keywords here can be both hilarious and frightening at the same time. This is one place to find out what people are looking for on the web, and you might not want to know ever again. This of course, depends on what you sell. Just imagine the words people use that show Paid (PPC) and organic search results for a plastic surgeon. Using some of these words can ensure your paid ads never appear for questionable search terms, or appear beside questionable web sites that may harm your reputation by association.

A Word Of Caution About Negative Keywords

One piece of advice: think long and hard about the words you add to your negative keyword lists. Words that may at first, seem improper or irrelevant to your product or service might actually be relevant. Think about the words in different situations (is it a brand name as well as a strange slang term, or does it mean something in a foreign language that is perfectly okay in your own?), and decide if adding the word will harm or help. The more you do, the more you will be able to develop a knack for recognizing such terms.

Is your campaign suffering from overexposure and broad search results?

Try adding some negative keywords. You just might see a difference in performance and price.

It's a competitive market. Contact us to learn how you can stand out from the crowd.

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Post a Comment


  • avatar

    Very interesting post. I never considered negative keywords in my ad campaigns. I get so caught up in getting relevant keywords into my list, that it just doesn’t occur to me. But after reading your article, it just makes sense. Why pay for words that have nothing to do with your site, and will most likely result in no action being taken at your site.

  • avatar

    Thanks Matt, the stuff is pretty revealing and a real eye opener. For me, it was helpful in deciding which direction to go next. I always look forward to your handy notes, probably for an easier PPC learning pad 😉

  • avatar

    @ Latha Google’s search query report is a great way to find out what your keywords are actually matching against: and my company also has a tool that helps: (there’s a free trial).
    Hope that helps!

  • avatar

    Matt, that was very informative.
    Looks like weeding out the bad ones, leaves us with the best possible active set of keywords.
    How do you identify keywords which are in the negative keyword list, which might be suitable? Is it by looking at the Analytics report ?

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