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How Negative Keywords & Optimizing Help Your Campaigns?
Written by: Jonathan Perea

How Negative Keywords & Optimizing Help Your Campaigns?

If you're not using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to increase sales, or if you're using PPC but not taking the time to optimize and add negative keywords to your paid ads you might not end up in front of the right people and be making a costly mistake.  

Consider for example the following metrics about Google AdWords:

  • 70% of mobile searchers who click on paid ads will act within one hour (that's rapid results)
  • 70% of consumers who click on paid ads from their mobile phones end up calling the businesses which placed those ads (is there a better way to connect with prospective buyers?)
  • 70% of marketers who use PPC ads say they plan to increase their paid search budgets (read, something must be working!)
  • On average, PPC advertisers make 2$ for every $1 they invest (how many other advertising channels will double your money?)

Some PPC Advertisers Are (a Lot) More Successful Than Others

Of course, not every PPC advertiser sees a 100% return on their marketing investment—some do a lot better, while others don't do nearly as well.  Why?  Well, there are lots of reasons, but at the top of the list is knowing what you're doing. 

That means creating cost-effective campaigns that put your ads in front of the consumers who are most likely to buy your products and services—and keeping those who aren't from clicking on your ads-which means wasted money.  I mean, if you sell contemporary home furniture, you don't want to push antique buyers to your website (they're not going to buy your stuff), or people looking for office furniture.

"Knowing what you're doing" means avoiding some of the common pitfalls which can doom your PPC campaign.  This includes everything from using the wrong keywords to forgetting about mobile searches, displaying ads at the wrong time and using overly broad searches.  And there's one more—not using negative keywords.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Let's go back to the contemporary furniture seller.  If he chooses keywords like "buy furniture," his ad will be displayed in front of lots of people (like those looking for antiques) who have zero interest in his beds, chairs and dining room tables.  He could have avoided all that bogus attention by using negative keywords (like "buy antique furniture), which tell AdWords who he doesn't want to see his ads.  Here's how Google defines negative keywords:

"A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren't shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase. This is also known as a negative match.  For example, when you add "free" as a negative keyword to your campaign or ad group, you tell AdWords not to show your ad for any search containing the term "free." On the Display Network, your ad is less likely to appear on a site when your negative keywords match the site's content."

The Devil's in the Details

Sounds simple enough, but like most aspects of successful marketing, you need to know the rules of the road to do it right.  So how do you best leverage the power of negative keywords? 

Here are 3 smart PPC tips to get you started:

  1. Use the keyword planner:  the AdWords Keyword Planner is a tool that helps you find keywords related to your products and services.  It doesn't give you a list of negative keywords, but it can help you identify them.  For example, if the furniture dealer enters "furniture" into the Keyword Planner, he'll see lots of keywords that are relevant to what he sells, and lots that unequivocally aren't (like "office furniture" and "antique furniture").  You can choose those which aren't as negative keywords.
  2. Use your search terms report:  the search terms report tells you what queries people used to display your paid ads.  You can sort the list of keywords based on those which created the largest number of impressions and by how many conversions they led to.  If you see keywords which are popular for your ads (meaning lots of impressions), but which don't lead to positive results, you've got great candidates for your negative keywords list.
  3. Do some searches:  this can take some time, but it's time well-spent.  Type your top keywords into Google and see what comes up (especially on the first couple pages).  Odds are you're going to see a lot of results that have nothing to do with your business—things like "clearance furniture" and "discount furniture," for example.  Make note of whatever's in those search results that you don't want to trigger your ad and add it to your negative keywords list.
 
Keeping Your Campaigns Cost-Effective

These tips will help you create more effective (and cost-effective) PPC campaigns, but it's hardly an exhaustive list.  The nuances of PPC advertising are many, and it's probably worth your time and marketing investment to get the help of a full-service inbound marketing agency.  To learn more about the ways our SEO, social media, web design, web audit and PPC services can help you boost sales and grow your business, book your free consultation below.

Request your free consultation

Topics: Pay Per Click, SEO, Keywords

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