Negative Keywords: The Often Overlooked Step

Chris Sams, February 24, 2014

Are you getting triggered impressions on non-relevant searches? Do you have keyword that when put in a particular sentence create an undesirable impression? Would you like to save money on irrelevant clicks that don’t convert, while increasing your click-through-rate (CTR) and your ad rank? Then it is now time you consider creating a negative keyword list.

Many products and services share keywords between industries. In order to accurately reach your target market within your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, you pick a number of search term keywords relevant to your product or service. Google will then attempt to match those keywords. However, more often than not you will get impressions on searches far from the audience you intend to target. These unwanted impressions are caused by Phrase and Broad matched segments of your existing keywords.

The purpose of negative keywords in a PPC campaign is to increase search term relevance. Using negative keywords will prevent certain phrase and broad search terms from triggering your ad and showing to an unwanted audience.

For example, your ad might read:

Denver Personal Training
Get the results you have been
dreaming of. Book a session now!

Without negative keywords your ad could appear in an unrelated search such as:

Denver personal training jobs
personal training equipment

Your ad could even appear in an incredibly vague search:

dog training
Denver driver training

When your ad appears in irrelevant searches it causes uncommitted clicks, which costs you money and lowers conversion and click-through rates. Having the right negative keywords assures that your ad is shown only to interested parties.

Therefore, optimizing your PPC ad campaign with negative keywords will create an ad with high relevance. Due to the relevance of the ads, your conversions, CTR and ad rank will all increase, in turn saving you money on uncommitted clicks.

How do we do this?

To get started, run your own search in Google using your current keywords. Base your first set of negative keywords on unrelated sites and subject matter appearing within the first few pages. You may also want to run a search in Wikipedia and add any unrelated or bad for business keywords to your negative keyword list.

Next, determine which subjects share keywords with your targeted product or service. Consider words that, if put before after or in between your keywords, would create an undesirable impression. For example, if your keyword was phrase matched with the word job or career at the end of it.

If you already have a campaign running go to your search term keywords section and review which search terms where actually used when your ad received an impression. To do this, login to Adwords and select Campaign> Adgroup> Keywords. Above Keywords select Details> Search Term> All. You are now able to discern which search terms triggered your ad. Review the list and determine which keywords are irrelevant to your campaign. Select all irrelevant keywords and add them to your negative keyword list. Before saving your changes, decide whether or not to set them at a campaign level or an Adgroup level. For better results, consider setting your negative keyword match types to broad. In order to check your search term report monthly, it is a good idea to set your date range to last 30 days.

By taking advantage of negative keywords you are optimizing your Adwords campaign. By optimizing your campaign you will create highly relevant ads shown only to committed clickers. This will increase your ad’s conversions, CTR and its overall ad rank.


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