How to Make The Most of Negative Keywords

In PPC advertising negative keywords are arguably as important as your regular keywords. Negative keywords ensure:

  • You only pay for what works
  • You’re not getting irrelevant traffic to your website
  • Users are more likely to convert

Search query reports in Google Adwords show you the exact search terms they have triggered your ad to be shown, which is great for identifying negative keywords to add. But the only problem with doing this is the terms have already given you traffic so it’s best to try prevent terms you don’t want your ad showing for before. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the negative keywords in Google Adwords:

Identify Products You Don’t Sell

The first place to start identifying the negative keywords to place in your account is by looking at your product list. Are there any particular products you don’t sell or have run out of stock for? For example, if you sell sports jackets but you don’t sell Nike ones, then you should set ‘Nike’ as a negative keyword so your ads are not shown for these searches. Look at your competitors websites and identify if they sell any products that you don’t, which are likely to trigger a keyword similar to the ones you’re using (on a phrase or broad match). Also, identify any types of products, brands, colours that you don’t sell which people are likely to be searching for and set these as negatives too.

Google Keyword Tool

The Google Keyword Tool is a really handy tool to see search volumes for keywords and show you opportunities for keywords to target, but it can be equally as useful to show related keywords which aren’t as useful. A good exercise is to take your keywords from an ad group and put them in the keyword ideas tool. This will show you any related terms and may highlight any which are not relevant to what you’re selling.

Cross Campaign/Ad Group Negatives

You want the ad copy a user sees to be the most relevant ad you have in your account, right? Setting ‘Cross Campaign Negatives’ ensure that your campaigns and ad groups are tight enough so that different phrase (or broad) matches don’t appear for the wrong campaign. For example, you may have two ad groups within one campaign – sports jackets and jackets. A search for ‘sports jacket’ could trigger an ad in either ad group if you have jacket on a phrase ad group. In this case you should set ‘sports’ as a negative keyword. Probably not the best example I could ever give, but it’s Monday and it’s been a long day!

Why is this important? By keeping your keyword grouping tight from ad group to ad group/campaign to campaign, you can ensure you’re using the most appropriate ad copy, URL’s and the right bid (you may want to bid less on certain ad groups).

Find Out What People Are Saying About Your Brand

No brand is free from a bit of bad publicity, it happens and even though it’s now easier with social media it’s easier to voice your ‘Brand Voice’ to help maintain your reputation and manage this bad press, there’s still something you can use negative keywords to help. If your brand or industry has had some bad press, you can use search engines to find related stories or see what people are saying on social media to give you some ideas of negative keywords to include in your campaigns. Terms like, ‘scam’, ‘rip off’, ‘con’are generally ones you’d want to include so your ad doesn’t show.

Obviously every case is different and things like this can be a delicate situation, but generally you wouldn’t want your brands ad to be shown for a keyword that wouldn’t show you in a good light.

Test Different Negative Keyword Match Types

Just like regular keywords, you are able to select broad, phrase or exact matches for your keywords. Usually exact or phrase matches are most appropriate, but you don’t want to restrict yourself too much and miss out on impressions and clicks so be careful when choosing the match type for your keywords.

Feel free to share your tips for making the most of your negative keywords below! Thanks for reading 🙂

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