Posted on 7/24/2018 in Digital Marketing

By Ryan MacQuarrie

Negative keywords are often overlooked, but they are a vital part of any successful Google Ads account. Negative keywords are words or phrases that will prevent your ad from being triggered by a particular search query. They can help you send the correct traffic to your site based on your specific campaign goals. They can also save you money by eliminating irrelevant search queries from triggering your ads. Let’s dig a little deeper into some ways to find and use negative keywords and the possible benefits that they provide.

The Benefits of Using Negative Keywords

  • Increased CTRs – by eliminating potential search queries that don’t make sense for a particular campaign, you are increasing the relevance of your keywords to the copy which will in turn increase your CTR.
  • Increased Conversion Rates – again by improving the relevance of your keywords to the copy, you are sending more qualified people to your site, which can increase your conversion rates.
  • Save Moneywasted spend is a metric that you should be reviewing constantly. The number one way to avoid wasted spend is through negative keywords. You’ll want to add negatives to avoid spending money on the following
    • Searches that are irrelevant to your campaign goals.
    • Searches that are costing a lot of money, but not converting.
    • Searches that relate to products or services that you don’t offer.
    • Searches for competitor’s brands. People searching for a specific brand name of a competitor are likely to already be intent on buying directly from that competitor.
    • Searches that are for a similar brand name. There are lots of similar brand names out there. One client that we worked with is a consulting company that shares the same brand name as a sex toy company! Obviously those are two very different businesses. Extensive negative keyword work is required to avoid showing your ads on a search that is related to your competitor’s product or service catalog.
  • Prevent Cross-Contamination Between Campaigns and Ad Groups - for example, if you are an apparel retailer and have separate campaigns setup for boots, sandals and shoes. You should be adding boots and sandals as negatives in the shoe campaign and vice versa. Or if you use the alpha-beta ad group structure you should use negative keywords to avoid certain match types crossing over between ad groups.

How/When to Find Negative Keywords

  • Before You Launch Your Campaign – as you are conducting your regular keyword research for your campaigns you should also be on the lookout for negatives. Whether you use the Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest or any other tool, there are going to be some obvious negative keywords popping out at you. Save time and cash by adding them to your account preemptively.
  • After Your Campaign Goes Live – even if you feel like you have covered all your bases you will start to see irrelevant searches that your ads have matched. This is common so don’t get down on yourself, just make sure you react to those irrelevant searches by adding new negatives to your account.
  • On a Schedule – Negative keyword research should be conducted on a regular basis. Depending on the number of clicks your account generates you may want to research them once a quarter, once a month, once a week or even more frequently. The search query report is your friend. Monitor it closely to avoid that wasted spend and to improve the other aspects of your account that we touched on above.

Negative keywords aren’t the sexiest thing in the world, but a solid strategy can improve the overall performance of your account drastically.


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