Negative Keywords in Google Adwords – Best Practices

by deepak-chauhan | Category Marketing | Publish Date
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    A negative keyword is a type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. The importance of paid ads is to increase your sales. It is therefore important to refine the keywords that you are bidding on, thereby maximizing on relevance for an impressive return on investment. Negative keywords ensure that you can filter out your ads from showing people who search or browse any content related to those words. Negative keywords, therefore, ensure that your ads will only reach the relevant and potential audience at all times.

    Just like keywords you mostly bid on, negative keywords can be assigned to the account, campaign, or ad group level. They usually come in multiple flavors such as broad, phrase, and exact. It is important to understand how negative keywords match types work for you to maximize, their value in your ad accounts such as AdWords and bing.

    Examples of negative keyword match types

    The negative broad match is one example of negative keywords matches. In this category, keywords are matched to multiple variations of a phrase. For example, the negative broad match keyword “running shoes” would filter out queries that show the entire negative keyword even when the words are not in the same order.

    It is important to note that, this does not eliminate all relevant search queries. You will still be able to find some queries with some terms still present in your negative keyword match phrase. This shows us that the negative keyword match is less restrictive but can restrict search that has the exact phrase you have specified.

    The exact negative keyword match helps you in eliminating specific search queries. This means by adding them to your Adwords accounts, your ad won’t show only when the searcher enters the exact words you have specified.

    It is important to note that in Display Network and Youtube, all negative keywords are considered as an exact match. Again adding too many negative keywords may at times, adversely impact your ability to reach prospects while a well-curated list will save you tons of money.

    What are the advantages of adding negative keywords?

    The question now is what is the advantage of using negative keywords in my ads campaigns. Here are the advantages of using negative keywords

    They improves click-through rate:

    Proper use of negative keywords ensures that you restrict your ads from running on irrelevant queries. This minimizes exposure of your account to uninterested impressions. This acts to your advantage by increasing the percentage of people who click on your ads.

    It helps you create more relevant Ad groups:

    Weeding out ads that are not relevant to your business you increase the relevance of your ad groups. This eventually allows you to create a single message that will speak to the entire group of keywords.

    It is money-saving:

    Negative keywords help you in saving money as it ensures you are paying for relevant clicks only. This also helps you avoiding bidding against yourself.

    It raises your conversion rate:

    Negative keywords ensure that your ads will not be triggered by particular terms that you are sure won’t convert and all those that convey a total lack of commercial intent.

    How do you add negative keywords?

    The most disturbing question to everyone who wants to implement broad and phrase keywords in their account is the procedure to follow in adding them to your account. For a long time, discovering negative keywords have been considered a laborious process that involves brainstorming and or, poring through Google Adwords search queries.

    For you to do this, you will require to navigate your way to the keywords tab in the Adwords user interface at the account, then scroll down to the campaign or ad group level. You will be able to see:

    Negative Keywords

    At this juncture, you will be able to see the keywords you are bidding on, however, you will not see the queries that them. You will be required to click on the search terms tab on the top of the UI.

    search terms

    By so doing, you are going to land you on the query land interface.

    On this interface, you will be able to discover columns that don’t exist on the keywords screen. They will include;

    Search term:


    Search term

    This shows the query a searcher entered into Google that triggered the keyword you are bidding on.

    Match type:


    Match type

    This will show the degree that the query matched up with one of the keywords you are bidding on.

    Added or excluded:


    Added or excluded

    This column shows the action you have taken with a search query. This simply shows whether you have added it to your account as a keyword or a negative keyword.

    There are other columns that we are not going to highlight as they are not of much importance to the negative keywords discussion.

    Step to step process of adding negative keywords to your AdWords account

    On the Adwords, account user interface scroll down to AdWords extension and check it.

    This will prompt a generation of a blue option bar will have two options i.e

    1. Add as keyword
    2. Add as a negative keyword

    Click on the add negative keyword

    On choosing to add a negative keyword, you will be prompted to choose the level at which the negative keyword should be assigned and the match type you would like to use.

    After choosing the level and adding the negative keyword, click on the Save button. Your negative keyword is now live.

    How to add your negative keyword to a negative keyword list

    Adding your negative keyword to a list helps while you want to apply your list to multiple areas within your account.

    Adding a negative keyword to your account does not add it to your negative keyword lists. You have to follow the following process to add it to your negative keyword lists.

    • Go to your Google Adwords user interface select Negative keyword lists.
    • Click on the blue plus sign and name your new list of negative keywords. Add you want to add they match the type and save.


    How to add new negative keyword list to your campaigns

    • On the user interface go to your campaign
    • Jump over to the keywords tab
    • Go to the negative keywords interface
    • While on the keyword interface select use keyword list
    • Select the appropriate list and save and your list goes live

    Add any ad poaching search queries that you directly find to your negative keyword lists. Now you are set to go and Google will serve your ads to the right search queries.

    For tighter control, it is advisable to apply the same concept to the ad group level.

    Techniques to uncover costly negatives

    It is important to conduct as service-level analysis to uncover costly negatives. However, in most cases you end up missing on some negatives that would adversely affect your ad performance.

    Here are techniques you should employ to uncover costly negatives:

    Employ advanced negative search query mining

    Bidding on broad match keywords with intention of maximizing your impression volume while ignoring your a search queries is wastage of money. It is important to manage your negative keywords in line with new opportunities that will result in overlooking costly search queries that may be torpedoing your ability to convert valuable searchers into customers.

    Figuring out search queries to be negated

    It is important to note that keywords are not searched queries. They are just assumptions of what we think that the customer will enter into the search engine

    A search query is the real entity input into the search engine. one keyword can match up to hundreds of search queries. This a fantastic opportunity but has the negative effect of overspending on inevitable search queries.

    How to identify the right keywords at scale?

    To deduce whether a certain keyword needs to be included in a negative keyword list we need to ask ourselves these questions;

    • Does the search query have a below-average CTR?
    • Does it have a below-average conversion rate?
    • Does it have an above-average cost per conversion?

    When a search query has a below-average CTR, it means that searchers who see the ad triggered are not clicking it. If that search query is irrelevant to your business, then you should consider listing it as a negative keyword. If it relates to your products and has volumes then you should consider creating a new ad group for it.

    When a search query has a below-average conversion rate or above-average CPA. Then it, means that your landing page is not optimized for mobile or lacks the adequate paths to conversions. queries that don’t convert should not be triggering your ads.

    To address the issues brought about by answers to these questions you will require to master the use of filters.

    How do I use filters?

    I know that is a pertinent question in your mind right now.

    • Navigate to the search Terms interface and click the small funnel
    • Then type the name of the parameters you would like to filter or pick them from a pick list
    • Ensure you have enabled the columns you need for you to view the metrics you are filtering
    • Click on the three vertical bars

    This will prompt you to establish parameters using greater than, lesser than, and or equal to alongside an open field.

    It is important to note that you can layer filters to find queries that exist at the intersection of specific metrics.

    Importance of using negative keywords

    • It keeps your keyword research clean and relevant
    • You spend your money on impressions that are likely to drive relevant traffic
    • You will get more qualified leads and eventual sales


    Successful campaigns that have used negative keywords to save on millions

    Carrie Albright once shared her thoughts on using negative keywords and gives us an example of one client who was to save 1 million pounds by simply using negative keywords.

    With the use of proper Negative keywords management, the client was able to increase their CTR rate by 132 percent, there was a decrease in the conversion rate of 8%. This resulted in a cut in the average cost per lead of 50 %. This means that the cost per lead increased by 53 % while the average cost per lead was at 47 % of the previous average.

    This eventually allowed the client to save $ 1 million on overpriced leads. This enabled them to budget and invest in top performing campaigns and keywords.

    This shows us how it is important to do thorough negative keywords management to save you money and increase your ad campaign performance.

    How to manage negative keywords

    It is important to note that your negative keywords are serving you the purpose you intend to achieve. The goals that you must achieve in negative management are as follows:

    1. Reduce irrelevant traffic:

    For example, if you are a plumbing business in Las Vegas, you will make sure you negate that keyword that will never be converted to a business such as; plumbing business school Las Vegas or plumbing certification. Without negating such phrases in your ad campaign will result in you paying for clicks that are not related to your business in any way.

    2. The second goal you want to achieve is a higher value result:

    A keen use of negative keywords will ensure your campaign is focused on the business more profitable products. The plumber will require to use negative keywords such as; fix., leak, leaking, fixing, and repair to weed out traffic from users with small issues thereby focusing his budget on jobs with a higher return on investment such as designing and installation of a water system in the new building.

    How then are you going to achieve these goals? When you apply the following tactics to manage your negative keywords I am pretty sure you are going to get impressive results.

    3. Continuous review:

    During the first few months of your campaign, ensure you conduct a weekly search term reports, then a monthly analysis.in so doing you will be able to ascertain which queries are generating a lot of traffic and identify those that don’t make sense to your campaign.

    4. Use google suggested searches:

    Conduct a search query using one of your keywords to discover what other searches Google suggests for it. This will help you in identifying words you would want to eliminate in your campaigns. Once you have identified them, add them to your negative keywords and repeat with other keywords.

    Always remember to include universal negatives in your negative keyword lists.

    5. Include relevance:

    This helps in eliminating search queries with close variants from your campaign. This ensures that your campaign reaches only the relevant customers who will require your services.

    6. Put the focus on your core business:

    It is important to put focus on what you do. This will help you in finding the relevant keywords that you should negate in your ad campaign. For example, if you are a service industry should focus on having product-related terms as your negative keywords.

    7. Avoid conflicts:

    An example of conflict is where you have let’s say a term veterinary service as your keyword then you end up adding service to your negative keywords list. This will mean in short you are blocking traffic that needs for your campaign. Though you are doing this unintentionally, this is one factor that will affect your campaign performance adversely. Adwords alert campaign managers whenever there is a conflict in keywords for them to act appropriately.

    It is important to set up ad groups for different match types. Upon doing this, use negative keywords to ensure there is no internal competition within a campaign. This is done by adding exact match keywords as negatives to the phrase match and broad match campaigns, then add phrase match keywords as negatives to the broad match campaign. This will boost the quality of scores in each group thereby lowering the CPP.

    Disadvantages of negative keywords


    Intimidation by negative match types:

    A large number of PPC advertisers don’t understand the concept of the three-match types. This makes it difficult for them to implement

    Secondly, negative keywords unlike traditional match types, are not extended to synonyms or different variations of keywords. This puts off a lot of PPC advertisers as they consider it a tedious process to set up multiple variations of their negative keywords.

    The process of setting up negative keywords lists involves and in-depth research which most advertisers abhor.

    In most cases, advertisers are so much inclined to set up keywords based on the obvious terms. The negative keyword set up involves a lot of sacrifices and critical thinking. It takes time and it sometimes requires input from different people to achieve the intended list.

    Conclusion

    If you are running an advertising campaign it is very vital to invest in tools that will help you generate and set up Negative keywords that will make sure that you are getting the maximum return on investment. The creation of a negative keywords list should be done in a very organized manner for you to avoid the most common mistake in their creation. It is important to invest heavily in researching the most appropriate negative keywords for your specific ad campaigns.

    Having the best negative keyword lists you will ensure you increase your profits dramatically with a very short time period. Will ensure all your ad will never be shown for keyword search queries that are not relevant to your target market. Over 50 % of your click-through will have a high potential of converting into sales

    Your ads overall CTR will be higher meaning you will have reached a considerable number of audiences as more people who see your ad will click on it as it is always relevant to them.

    The higher the CTR in your ad the lower the Cost per Click regardless of your ad is positioned higher on the page.

    A lower CPC rate translates to a huge saving on the cost of running your ads effectively. This will eventually result in a higher return on investment.

    It also will help you greatly in gaining a better knowledge of the keywords that you should use in your web content.

    Negative keyword management, however, laborious it is should be an important component to each and every person who is running a PPC business. By conducting in-depth research on negative keyword continuously will help you in improving the performance of your business. It will also help you in saving time and whenever you want to generate a new negative keywords list or creating new Ad groups.

    One way that most companies have not utilized fully in generating negative keywords that you can use in your ad campaigns, is the use of your team members to discuss the possible erroneous questions that they are probably getting from customers about your business products or services. The most relevant team that you should consider engaging would be the customer support team as they handle most of your products and services queries from a customer on a daily basis.

    While choosing your keywords always remember to take caution to avoid overdoing it. Continuous review or the performance of your negative keywords will help you develop a thoroughbred list of keywords that have the greatest potential in your ad campaigns.

    Having effective negative keyword management not only keeps your keyword research clean but also relevant. Having this ensures that you are capable to deliver a compelling and targeted message to the exact segment of searchers you want to reach. It also ensures that your budget will be used on impressions and clicks that are likely to generate relevant traffic. As a result of this, there will be an increase in leads and eventually be converted into sales.

    For a Pay per Click account to succeed it is therefore important to have an effective negative keyword strategy. It is one of the most important cornerstones if and only if it is implemented correctly. It will save you money, increase the relevance of your audience, and improve your click-through rates.it is evident no matter how the process of having an effective Negative key management strategy, is demanding and laborious, its return on investment is quite impressive. You just need to be more focused, dedicated, and consider the broad involvement of various key players in the industry to have it up and running for your benefit.

    If you wanna make that extra money on PPC and save on expense while enjoying increased profits, then it is the right time to go negative and maximize your return on investment tremendously.



    Deepak Chauhan About Deepak Chauhan Hi, I am Deepak Chauhan, a Digital Marketing Strategist. I'm the CEO & Co-Founder of VOCSO Technologies, a creative web design, development, marketing agency based out of India & USA. I love to blog about my experiences and strategies to help new startups. When I'm not working, I'm either traveling, playing foosball, cricket or learning photography.


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    One thought on “Negative Keywords in Google Adwords – Best Practices

    1. Shashi (Karooya.com)

      Deepak,

      This is an exceptionally comprehensive article on negative keywords!

      One can use tools like Karooya that generates automated negative keywords recommendations by analyzing large amount of search terms data. Such a tool can save significant time as well as surface all the opportunities that a manual review may miss.

      ShashiCo-founder, Karooya

      Reply

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