Negative Keywords in PPC Campaigns: Optimising PPC Campaigns is one of the most crucial elements of any online marketing activity. So many just set campaigns up, and leave them to their own devices. Analogy time. Imagine your PPC campaign is a vegetable garden. When you start, your garden is looking great. No weeds, lush plants, and a handsome bounty of delicious fruits and vegetables. Wonderful.

What happens if you forget about it? It will become overgrown, chaotic, and will most likely wither and die. The same principle applies to your PPC campaigns. As a marketer, you need to be thinking about how you can continually improve on what you’ve already got. If you leave your campaign as it once was, your competition will most likely beat you, taking your traffic, sales and maybe a bit of your self-respect.

Negative Keywords in PPC Campaigns

There are all sorts of ways to help optimise and enhance your PPC campaigns. Once you’ve got a grasp on those you may be wondering what you can do next. Never fear, I have the solution – Negative Keywords.

Whoa, what are the Negative Keywords?

Negative Keywords allow you to filter out keywords that you don’t think should be triggering your ads. Do you sell luxury watches, RankTopTen says about them? You don’t want your ad to show for the term “cheap watches”, but if you have the keyword “watches” in your profile it will. People who are searching for cheap watches are not going to spend $20,000 on a watch. They probably won’t even look around. They’ll land on your site (which costs you), see the price, get frightened, and leave faster than you could imagine. What’s the point in paying for these people? It’s costing you (for generic terms, it can add up to be quite expensive), and the chance of them converting is next to none.

Should I be using them?

No matter what you sell, there will be keywords you want to avoid receiving traffic from. For example, let’s say you own a children’s toy shop. It might pay to use the term “Adult” as a negative keyword to ensure your ads aren’t triggered by those interested in slightly more adventurous bedroom activities.

Negative keywords can have positive effects on:

  • Campaign Cost
  • Return on Investment
  • Impressions & Click Through Rates
  • Bounce Rate and other site usage metrics
  • Overall campaign performance

How will I know which keywords I should use?

In Google Adwords, navigate to your keyword report for a specific AdGroup. Click “See Search Terms > All” to bring up all the search terms your potential customers have used. Here you will see some keywords that should be included, and some that should be excluded. Clicking the checkbox next to a keyword will allow you to add it as a keyword (make sure you choose the match type when adding them), or as a negative keyword, ensuring your ads are not delivered when this query is entered. All negative keywords added this way use “Exact Match” so someone needs to type the exact phrase (and nothing else) into Google for your ads not to show.

I recommend doing this for every ad group in your campaign. It will tighten up costs, and ensure you are driving the most relevant traffic to your site.

Want some more examples?

  • If you sell labels, you should make [free labels] a negative keyword. These people are clearly not going to shell out any money.
  • If you sell computers, but not the parts use negative keywords to ensure all DIY hopefuls aren’t landing on your site and finding nothing to buy.

There you have it.

Negative keywords can be a very powerful targeting tool to help tighten up and focus your campaigns more effectively. Your ads will deliver based on the keywords in your portfolio. You should never leave it up to Google to determine if someone is looking for children’s toys or adult toys.