Posted by James Lee on 17th March 2010

PPC Management Tip: All About Negative Keywords

Fact: you can run a PPC campaign without ever using a single negative keyword.  But you can run a much better one if you do. A well-chosen set of negative keywords can lower your costs, improve the quality and conversion rates of your clicks, and improve your brand image. (Naturally, we recommend using PPC management software for optimal performance!)

What is a negative keyword? They are keywords that can be added at the campaign or adgroup level to exclude queries that contain them. For example, if you install solar panel systems but keep getting clicks from people searching for solar system science projects, you could add ‘science project’ as a negative keyword to exclude those searches. As with regular keywords, negative keywords can be broad, phrase, or exact match. Here are some examples of each negative match type:

  • science project will exclude queries that include both words, not necessarily in that order (e.g. ‘solar project for science fair’). Unlike regular broad match keywords, negative broad match will not block misspellings, variations, or plurals.
  • science project” will exclude queries that include this exact term, such as ‘solar power science project.’
  • [science project] will exclude only search queries for this exact term. Not too useful in this case, since this exact query will not trigger your keywords in the first place. However, you could use an exact match negative for [solar system science project].

How do you choose effective negatives for your campaigns? There are a couple of ways. One is to go into your account, click the keywords tab, and click ‘See search terms’ to see what actual search terms triggered clicks. You may be surprised at the irrelevance of some of these searches and how much you paid for those clicks!

You can also try Google’s search keyword tool to see popular searches for your keywords and add the irrelevant ones to your negatives. But if you’re in any doubt whether or not to exclude a certain keyword, don’t: people find you and become customers for many different reasons.

Essentially, negative keywords act as filters, lowering the number of impressions and clicks you generate but increasing the quality of the ones you do get. They can also keep your ad from showing up for undesirable searches that could hurt your image. If you’ve been having difficulty generating enough impressions and clicks through using only phrase and exact match or have been getting far too many through just broad match, a combination of broad match and negatives can be an effective solution for your PPC management.

Of course, negative keywords are just one piece of the puzzle. For comprehensive PPC management software that takes care of keyword bidding and ad copy testing, why not get yourself a free trial of ClickSweeper?

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