from Commercial Reality Ltd


AdWords™ Management Services

Negative Keyword Magic

Negative keywords are highly valuable in a well-run AdWords Campaign. They are used to inhibit ad display when they appear as part of the search term entered by the searcher.

For example, if you sell cars of every single colour except black, putting the keyword "black" in as a negative will stop your ads being displayed whenever someone is looking for a black car. There is no point displaying your ad for such a search because you don't sell black cars. (Note however, that consumers can often be persuaded to change their mind: dark grey may be good enough!)

For many businesses there are some generic terms that should be added as negatives: jobs, vacancies, opportunities, salaries, careers, training, youtube, ebay and so on. If you sell insurance, you probably don't want people looking for insurance vacancies clicking your ads and so on.

Of course if you stick only to using EXACT MATCH keywords you don't need any negatives at all. Negative keywords come into their own when used in conjunction with PHRASE MATCH and BROAD MATCH keywords.

Phrase Match keywords can be quite specific but will still generate clicks from undesirable visitors. As an AdWords user you can never be sure in advance what people will search for and by examining the search history you'll be able to build up a list of negatives. I tend to review all searches done once a week and add new negatives as appropriate.

Broad Match keywords generate a much wider variety of clicks and it is usually vital in a broad match Ad Group to introduce a very wide range of negatives as fast as possible. Of course there are some obvious standard negatives such as "free" and so on that you probably want to include anyway.

In some sectors negatives are vital to make it clear what you are selling: do you use the keyword Blackberry because you make jam or because you sell phones? If you sell jam, then add words like mobile, email, phone, phones, chargers, cables, lead, holders etc as negatives. If you sell Blackberry phones then add negatives like recipe, recipes, sugar, jars, jar, preserving etc.

What if you sell Apples: PCs or the fruit?

Or CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility or Bluetooth stuff?

Negative keywords also have an impact on Content network ads. If you sell web traffic you don't want your ads appearing on car-related sites. By adding words like car, lorry, roads etc. as negatives to your Ad Group you will help Google place your ads on more appropriate sites in the Content network.

Don't forget too that you can block your ads from appearing on specific network sites if you wish

What about negative phrase match keywords?

These can appear confusing to begin with but just treat each negative phrase as if it were a single keyword. Here's an example to make things easy.

Suppose you sell PC chargers including wind powered pc chargers but excluding wind up pc chargers.

You could use an Ad Group for the phrase match keyword "pc chargers" and the exact match keyword [pc chargers].

By putting "wind up" in as a negative phrase match you would stop people searching for "wind up PC chargers" seeing your ads. But it would let people searching for "wind powered PC chargers".

A negative phrase match inhibits ad display when the complete negative phrase is used in the search.

How negative keywords increase the value of your AdWords account.

Suppose you use the phrase match keyword "patent agents uk" as your sole keyword in an AdGroup and that it costs £1 a click and that you are spending £100 a month on clicks.

Suppose further that you get 20 enquiries in a typical month - a conversion rate of 20%. Each enquiry has cost £5.

Finally suppose that on detailed analysis you see that of the 100 searches in a month 30 were for the term "best patent agents uk" but that none of these generated an enquiry.  By putting the word "best" in as a negative keyword you are likely to cut costs by 30% or £30.

If the next month follows the same pattern this time you will get 70 clicks, pay £70 but still get 20 enquiries which this time will have cost you £3.50. Your AdWords ROI will have increased by 42%. (But don't forget that ROI is NOT the best performance measure of an AdWords account.)

Just by adding a negative keyword.

For a review of how effectively you are using negative keywords in your own AdWords account, consider buying an AdWords Haircut!