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The Importance of Negative Keywords

As the foundation to any PPC campaign, keywords are incredibly important in order to get in front of the right customers. If you are diving into a new account, be it taking over from the previous manager or creating one yourself from the ground up, don’t undermine the power of your negative keyword lists.

What benefits do negative keywords provide?

Just as with regular keywords, examine user data, incorporate them into your campaigns, and reap the rewards of reaching your target audience more accurately. By using negative keywords, it will significantly reduce irrelevant ad impressions so that you can improve your quality score and lower your cost per click. In addition, your cost per acquisition and ad spend will decrease while causing your conversion rate to increase. Not to mention, it will enhance user experience with your brand. It’s an all around win.

Where do negative keywords reside within AdWords?

As you are getting started with negative keywords in your AdWords account, you can choose whether you would prefer to add them at the campaign or ad group level. If you are looking to get more granular, adding negative keywords at the ad group level would be more suitable for your campaign needs.

To add negative terms, go to the “Keywords” tab, scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on “Negative Keywords” to the left. Enter one keyword per line and save when you’re ready. As a reminder, be cautious of the match types you use here. If you add terms that tend to be more on the broad side, you may lose out on good qualified traffic and customers. Stick to exact and phrase match for better results.

Methods of research negative keywords:

The most common issue with negative keywords is not regularly considering the addition of new ones. If you are building a new campaign out from scratch, do not proceed to launch it without adding negatives right out the gate.

Make it a habit, that every time that you are spending time researching regular keywords to add to your campaigns, you should be keeping an eye out for potential negative search terms to add as well. Here are some resources that can assist you in building out well-rounded negative keyword lists:

  • Search Query Report – To locate and download this report in AdWords, go to the “Dimensions” tab, click on the “View” drop down, and select “Search terms”. Here, you will find some excellent candidates for your negative keyword lists.

  • Competitive research – Conduct a search for your keywords in Google and Bing as sometimes they may vary. When reviewing the results, if any terms appear that are irrelevant to your primary keywords, be sure to add them to your negative keyword list.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Within your account, you can use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to build out new or expand existing keywords lists and campaigns. This gem of a tool can help you search for not only keyword ideas, but it will also suggest ad group ideas, provide you with historical statistics, predictions on how keyword lists may perform, and insight on choosing competitive bids.
  • A thesaurus – Sure, the physical book is great to have on hand, however, an online version may be much quicker to reference. The online advertising space is competitive and missing a variation of a negative search term may cost you impressions, clicks, and budget. Don’t leave any behind that may deter you from optimal success.

Do negative keywords matter when using Dynamic Search Ads?

While on the topic of negative keywords and their importance, Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) come to mind. Unlike many other search ads who use keywords, DSA’s do not. If you are looking to gain additional traffic with a lesser amount of campaign maintenance, these are fantastic, however, keeping an eye on them is a must because your budget can evaporate rapidly if you don’t add to your negative keyword list.

If you are able to, it is good practice to pick one day each week and comb through keywords in your campaigns, especially those that are DSA’s. Search for the week prior, or since the last time you checked and go through the search term list to make sure you aren’t wasting impressions and clicks on irrelevant keywords that may be consuming part of your budget and providing no return. For example, if you are selling shoes online and clicks on light bulb related search terms come up; you will want to add those as negative exact match keywords at the DSA campaign level.

The bottoms line is, bad matching will cost you money. Make it a habit to continually review your search query report, do some competitive research, and add negatives to your keyword lists. Doing so will continue saving you money, your conversion rates will improve, and irrelevant clicks will be far and few in between.

About Akvile Harlow

Akvile Harlow is a digital marketing strategist and consultant based in Southern California. She specializes in paid search, social media, and content marketing.