Do you feel like your Adwords ads are triggering irrelevant keyword queries, and you are wasting advertising money? Almost every advertiser across the board has this problem, and there is a way to regain keyword control by adding negative keywords to any campaign or ad level.
Luckily Adwords and BingAds support a feature called “negative keywords.” Negative keywords allow you to designate what keywords or phrases you do not want to appear in search queries. Simply put, traditional keywords trigger your ads for search queries, while negative keywords will prevent your ads from being triggered. When you add negative keywords to your campaign or ad group, your ads will not be served if those words are part of the user’s search query.
Why would I not want my ads to be displayed?
Valid question; let’s look at an example. A plumbing company in my hometown of Denver decides to start doing a PPC campaign. Let’s use Brothers Plumbing (I have zero affiliation with them, but I am sure they are a stand-up plumbing company.) for this example.
Without doing any keyword analysis, I would predict one of their top keywords is plumbing. I used Adwords Keyword Planner, and plumbing and Denver plumbing are a couple of high competition keywords, and the Keyword Planner Tools suggests a bid of $55.
Now let’s say a guy named Rick is a plumber with 20 years of experience and wants to start looking for a new plumbing job. He decides to turn to Google for his next job search and enters “plumbing jobs Denver” into his search query. Bam! he gets a bunch of Denver plumbing companies that he can click on and see if they are hiring.
The problem is that Roto-Rooter, Brothers Plumbing, or any other plumbing companies probably do not want to be using their advertising spend to help with Ricks’ next job search. This is where negative keywords come into play.
Let’s say Brothers Plumbing added the negative keyword “jobs” to their campaign or ad group. If that was the case, their ad would not have appeared in Ricks’ search query, saving them the bid that cost them to be placed in the second position if Rick clicked the ad. Awesome right?
Here are a Few Tips for Using Negative Keywords in your Adwords Account
Eliminate the Obvious
For almost any existing or new campaign, you should eliminate the motley crue version of keywords. This list includes e-commerce sites (eBay, Amazon, Craigslist), job seekers (career, job, hiring), educational (training, learn, college), research material (how do I, pics, manual), and bargain shoppers (free, cheap, donation).
I did say almost any campaign. The list is a good starting point, but every campaign is different. Let’s say you are running a new campaign for your brand new Sugar-Free Candy Bars. In this case, you will not want to have “free” as a negative keyword on this campaign.
Become BBFs with your Search Queries
I suggest you regularly check what search queries users are clicking to land on your site. The Search Query report will provide you with insight into the search queries, or terms, that are driving clicks and impressions to your ads.
This is an awesome tool that will help you expand on the list above and will allow you to create a list of negative keywords focused on your keywords, ads, and market. I have found countless negative keywords that would have crossed my mind of using this report.
If you don’t know where to look, this feature can be hard to find. Here is how to locate this.
- Select the date range and campaign you want to view.
- Click the Keyword Tab.
- Under the pretty little graph, there is a dropdown button called “details” Third from the left.
- Once you click details, you will be able to view and download every search query for the selected campaign
Match Types – Exact, Phrase, and Broad
Just like when you add your keywords, you have the option to include phrases and exact matches; you have the same option to add those match types to negative keywords. This feature allows you to increase the level of negative targeting.
Here are the negative match types:
- Negative Broad: Ad will not display as long as all words are present somewhere in the search query.
- Negative Phrase: The ad will not display as long the phrase is somewhere in the search query.
- Negative Exact: Ad will not display if the exact term is the search query.
This gets a little confusing. Google thought so, too, so they created this nice graphic to help clarify the different match types.
Here is another quick explanation. Let’s use blue shoes as our negative keyword.
- Search Query = blue shoes
All match types would trigger the negative keyword.
- Search Query = blue shoes large
Board and Phrase would trigger the negative keyword. Exact would not because it is not the exact search query.
- Search Query = blue tennis shoes
Only Board would trigger the negative keyword.
- Search Query = shoes blue
Only Board would trigger the negative keyword.
Good Night and Good Luck
This is just a starting point, and once you have a solid list of your own, you will improve your CTR and save your budget by displaying your ads to the most relevant searches.