PPC Users: Don’t Forget Negative Keywords!

So you have researched your keywords, written your ad copy, set your budget and now your brand-new PPC campaign is running!  There are dozens, maybe hundreds of ways to optimize your campaigns over time for paid search, but don’t overlook one of the great tools that Google provides to make sure that you are laser-focusing on your audience and your audience only: negative keywords.   

What are negative keywords?
Let’s say you own a bakery that sells and delivers cupcakes in Asheville, NC.  If Google is displaying your ads for search queries like “cupcake bakery New York” or “vanilla cupcake recipes” or “cupcake vineyards,” it is pretty unlikely that anyone searching for those terms wants to buy cupcakes in Asheville, NC because they are searching for something entirely different.  For that reason, all of these could be considered negative keywords for your cupcake bakery.

Negative keywords are any terms that trigger your ads, but for which you do not want to appear.  Maybe you are appearing for search queries that have nothing to do with your organization or your ad is popping up in searches for the wrong location.  Either way, you are wasting ad impressions and even clicks for searches that will never result in a sale. 

How to exclude negative keywords:
Luckily, AdWords has a couple of nifty features that allow you (1) to see what specific search queries are rendering your ads, and (2) to exclude any negative keywords that you do not want to trigger your ads.  If you go to your “keywords” tab in AdWords, choose “Details” to view your search queries:


Ad groups










This report will show you specifically what each person is typing into a search bar before they see your ad. Look for any search queries that indicate that Google may be displaying your ads for the incorrect search queries for your organization.  For the bakery in Asheville, the negative keyword list might look like: “recipes,” “New York,” and “vineyards.”  Make a list of these negative keywords for exclusion.  (Pro tip: Include both plural and singular versions of your negative keywords, i.e.: “recipes,” “recipe,” “vineyards,” “vineyard.”)

Once you have made your list, return to your “Keywords” tab in AdWords and scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen.  At the bottom, you will see the tab for negative keywords; click the + and you will be able to add your negative keywords for either your entire campaign or for specific ad groups.

Negative keywords








Be proactive!
While the search queries report in AdWords is helpful and important to monitor, you don’t have to wait to show up for a negative keyword in your search queries report!  If you know there are already some common terms for your product or industry that don’t quite match what you sell or do, then go ahead and add those terms to your negative keywords in advance.

The key to a healthy, profitable PPC campaign is ongoing optimization to make sure that you are spending your ad dollars well – so don’t neglect audience-targeting tools like negative keyword exclusion!  If you or your organization needs help starting up a new PPC campaign or optimizing a current campaign, learn more about our PPC expertise or contact us today!
Happy Advertising!
 
By Rachael Watkins
 

Internet Marketing Team Leader
Rachael serves as Internet Marketing Team Leader in Full Media's Atlanta office. She is a graduate of Indiana University where she received a degree in international studies and religious studies. Prior to Full Media, she worked for a number of non-profits, taking on everything from student political organizing to human rights issues in China to private foundation work.