Paid Search: Simple Strategies to Power Up Negative Keywords

By Sandra D’Souza

When working on their Google AdWords accounts, most marketers focus their attention on researching regular or traditional keywords. After all, these keywords enable their ads to be displayed for relevant searches. What many marketers and businesses don’t realise is that utilising negative keywords in their PPC (pay per click) campaigns is just as important.

According to Google, negative keywords work by preventing your advertisements from being displayed for particular keyword phrases.  Because of this particular attribute, negative keywords stop your ads from being shown to people who do not fit your target audience mold and are less likely to use your product or service.As a result, they can help you reduce costs and get bigger return on investment. And more importantly, they can help you filter unnecessary clicks and instead reach only the most interested customers.

If you are considering using negative keywords on your PPC campaigns, here are some simple strategies you might want to implement to double their impact.

Think Beyond Each Negative Keyword

According to Andrew Lolk, co-founder of White Shark Media, after identifying a search query you don’t want your PPC ads to show for, you should think beyond the negative keywords you have added to your list of excluded keywords. Then, determine the other words your target audience would want to use.For example, if you’re selling inexpensive or used furniture and you don’t want your ads to be shown when users type in the word “luxury,” you should think of other words that are synonymous to “luxury,” such as “expensive,” “high-end,” and “upscale.”

By looking beyond each negative keyword, you will be able to identify more related or similar keywords or search queries that you don’t want your ads to be displaying for. This can help double the impact of your negative keywords, Andrew explained.

Take Advantage of Google’s Keyword Research Tool

Google has a nifty keyword research tool called Google Keyword Planner which provides you with a wide list of common and related keywords. If you’re having a hard time coming up with different variations of your negative keywords, you can utilise this tool to kick start your list.

Use the Search Term Report

Andrew pointed out that one of the biggest challenges of working with negative keywords is that you have to play a guessing game. “You really don’t know what search queries you’re receiving impressions for, but not getting clicks from. You have to guess what people will search for in conjunction with the keywords that you have in your AdWords campaign,” he said. Fortunately, this hurdle can be overcome by simply “looking at the signs” in your Search Terms report.

Andrew said using the data in your Search Terms report allows you to easily identify more search queries or keywords you do not want your ads to be showing for. He added that this is something he has experienced personally. “When we ran product category keywords like pans, pots, bath-towels, etc, we saw that our ads appeared for searches that included brands we didn’t have in our inventory. Many would just check if the brand they had searched for was on our site and leave when they didn’t find it,” he went on to say.

With the help of the Search Term report, Andrew said he and his team were able to easily pinpoint the brands and models they didn’t carry and include them in their list of negative keywords. After adding the necessary negative keywords, they were able to see a not worthy increase in their click through rates or CTR.

To significantly enhance the impact of your negative keywords, Andrew said you should take the time to do some proper keyword research before running a PPC campaign. This can help you generate better results and save more time in the long run.

This article originally appeared in

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