PPC Help: Negative Keyword Strategy

PPC Help

Everyone needs PPC help, and this series is part of our blog post series to help you improve your paid search campaign in 10 days.

Guest Post by Bethany Bey of PPC Hero

Negative keywords are an essential part of any PPC account. I mean do you really want to serve your daily deal coupon ads to people searching for the dietary habits of polar bears? Adding negative keywords to your account will help filter out irrelevant traffic, but if all your doing is running a search query and adding the strange/odd searches to your account, you’re missing out on a lot that negatives have to offer.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to pretend I own Pretty Princess Clothing, a store that sells girl’s clothing for babies, toddlers, and kids. I will use this example to illustrate 5 tips to enhance your negative keyword strategy.

1. Think Negatively. Positive thinking can reduce stress, improve your health, and drive you to success and happiness, but negative thinking can save you money. Any time you are researching keywords to add to your account, you should also be looking for potential negatives.

Let’s say I’m doing initial keyword research to set up an AdWords account for my store.  I type in “girls clothing” into the keyword research tool to generate some keyword ideas and get the following results:

Adwords Negative Keywords

There are a lot of great keyword ideas to add to my account, but I can also quickly identify keywords for which I don’t want ads to show. Since I only sell clothes for children, I should exclude all searches with the words “teen” or “teenager.” If there are keywords you definitely don’t want to show for, add them into your account before you pay for a click.

2. Create Negative Keyword Lists. When I started working with PPC, if I found a negative keyword that would apply to the whole account, I would have to add it into each individual campaign. Now with negative keyword lists…, I can create a list and apply it to all my campaigns to easily upload negatives I want to implement account wide.

I also like to create lists for groups of similar negatives to keep myself organized and easily make changes.  At my clothing store, I only sell clothing for girls so I’ve created a “Categories” list that includes negatives for all the categories of clothing I don’t sell. I also don’t carry clothing with certain characters that are popular in the girl’s clothing industry, so I want to create a negative keyword list for those characters.

Negative Keywords List

If I get a high demand for Tinkerbell girl’s clothing and decide to start carrying those products later, I can easily come in a remove the negative from this one list instead of having to go into each campaign.

3. Utilize Negative Keyword Match Types. Google offers three negative keyword match types and you should utilize all of them in your account to better target your audience. In case you are unfamiliar with how negative match types work, here is a chart that shows the differences:

Negative Keywords Match Types

I would say that the most underutilized match type is the exact match. To see how it would work, let’s take the example above that I start carrying Tinkerbell clothing. The term “tinkerbell” has 673,000 monthly searches in the US alone. While it is possible that some of these people might be searching for tinkerbell clothing, most of them are probably not. This is an instance where you could add the exact match [tinkerbell] to better qualify your traffic and save money.

4. Use Negatives to Direct Traffic. Just because you are bidding on a keyword in your account, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also have it as a negative. That might sound crazy, but negatives are a great way to ensure you are showing the right ads to the right people.

Since I want people searching for toddler’s clothing to see a Toddler clothing ad and be directed to a toddler’s clothing landing page, I would add in “baby” and “kid” as negatives in that campaign.

Negative Keywords to Target Traffic

You can get even more specific by adding negative keywords at the ad group level. If I have a campaign with ad groups for each color of baby clothing I sell, I can add the other colors as negatives in each ad group.

Negative Keywords

5. Audit Your Negative Keywords. I recommend you audit your negatives at least twice a year, more often if there are many people working in one account. I can speak from experience that it’s not unusual to find a negative in an account that is blocking relevant traffic. It could have been an uploading error, or you could just realize a keyword you thought you didn’t want to show for 6 months ago could now generate leads. Either way, it’s always a good idea to review your negatives every so often so you aren’t blocking potentially converting traffic.

Bethany Bey is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through pay-per-click advertising. She is also manager of the award winning blog PPC Hero. Follow Bethany on Twitter @bethany_bey.

One response to “PPC Help: Negative Keyword Strategy”

  1. PPC Consultants

    With PPC and Google AdWords you bid for the keywords you want your adverts to appear for when searched with on Google. Eg, if your site sells books and newsletters about managing businesses then you might want your ad to appear for a search with business strategy.

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