Surprised by Negative Keywords

February 14, 2018

Agency Blog

Google “bAdWords”

Google “bAdWords”: What are Negative Keywords Anyway?

Google. We all use it. If you’re reading this, you probably even use AdWords. But, are you getting everything you can out of your AdWords campaigns? Are you getting the best return on your investment out of your ads? Well, if you’re not utilizing negative keywords in your campaigns, then the answer is… probably not. And, frankly, you’re missing out.

Many marketers/businesses don’t spend enough time focusing on negative keywords, or worse, they don’t spend any time on them at all. That’s a scary thought. So, what the heck are negative keywords anyway? Google defines them as, “A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase.” Why are they important? Read on reader. We’re about to find out.

As we all know, AdWords works by allowing us (advertisers) to bid on keywords so that our ads will appear in Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And, that’s great! But, what if we serve an ad to someone whom isn’t looking for what we’re selling? Answer? That’s a miss. Adding negative keywords to our campaigns not only can, but will help to mitigate this. No more misses (well, not as many, but that’s a topic for another post).

What do I mean by a miss? Allow me to give you an example. Let’s say your company sells ceiling tiles. You’d likely have your ads set to trigger on keywords/phrases such as, “ceiling tiles, tiles, replacement tiles, replacement tiles for drop ceilings, etc.” Now, suppose someone is looking for floor tiles and they type something like, “floor tiles near me” into the search bar. Your ad may trigger based on the “tiles” keyword, but you can almost guarantee that it won’t bring any ROI, because that individual searcher isn’t looking for ceiling tiles… they’re looking for floor tiles. Make sense? In this instance, we would use a negative keyword to rule out the “floor” in “floor tiles.”

Here’s the deal. Negative keywords are an essential part to any AdWords campaign. Without them, you’re spending money that’s just not necessary to spend by serving ads that don’t answer the searcher’s intent. It’s literally throwing money away.

A pretty common misconception is that you can generate a negative keyword list one time, add it to your campaign/ad group, and be done. This is however not the case. Negative Keyword research, just like regular keyword research, is something that is ongoing. You should proactively maintain your list for each campaign/ad group. Most of us that work with PPC ads do this on a weekly basis.

What does that look like? Well, it looks like a lot of work. But, it’s well worth it in the end. What I would suggest is going to your “Keyword” report in AdWords and look at your conversion rates (if you have conversions implemented) and/or your quality score. If you don’t see your quality score, you’ll need to enable it under “Modify Columns (the three bars graphic on the top right)>Attributes>Quality Score)” and then hit “Apply” at the bottom of the screen.

What this will help you to do is to see which keywords are underperforming after being served, and which ones you can add to your negative keyword lists so that you won’t bid on them. Again, it’s good to do this once a week. Also, you can see which terms are being searched by going to your “Search Term” report. To do this, click on “Keywords” and then select “Search Terms” on the top bar to the right. This will help give you some insight into what terms people searched for when your ads were displayed.

Now that we’ve learned a little bit about what negative keywords are let’s find out how to implement them in your campaigns. This should help get you started:

  1. Sign into your Google AdWords Account.
  2. Choose the Campaign or Ad Group you wish to modify, then click “Keywords.”
  3. Locate the “Negative Keywords” section and click on it.
  4. To add a negative keyword, simply click on the “+” button.
  5. From here, you can choose to add your negative keywords by list or create a new list. Also, you can choose whether to add them to your campaign, or Ad Group.

You can find more information page regarding adding Negative Keywords to your campaigns and/or ad groups by visiting Google’s AdWords Help. Adding negative keywords to your campaigns may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not. It’s an essential step in improving your ROI on ads served via the Search and/or Display Network with Google. Give it a shot. You’ll be glad that you did.

That’s it for this blog post! I hope that you’ve learned something that will help you accel in your marketing efforts. Of course, if you need any additional assistance with AdWords or your marketing efforts in general, feel free to contact us! We’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

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