A Positive Guide to Determining Negative Keywords in AdWords

We run several AdWords campaigns for clients and we understand the key task of optimizing keywords in order to ensure quality clicks are all they are paying for.  But that all depends on your campaign goals, especially when it comes to driving clicks from competitors.  Negative keywords are words and phrases related to your product or service but aren’t relevant, and thus your ads would not show when those negative queries are searched for.

The more relevant your keywords are, the higher click-through rate your campaigns achieve, and that means a better quality score, and THAT means higher ad rank at less cost, and THAT means a better ROI.

Determining Negatives

First, there are some general negatives that all campaigns should have included.  Examples:

  • Career-related: Jobs, careers, salaries, employment
  • Geography related (for areas you do not want traffic from)
  • General research: Articles, books, examples, journals

Second, look at your offer. If it’s bottom- funnel, meaning a demo, trial, get quote, purchase, for example, then you don’t need to target people researching.  So negative “question” keywords.

  • How, What, Why, Does

Third, decide what you want to do about competitors.  Competitive keywords will cost more, but you need to test and see if you can drive leads from people searching for other firms that do what you do.  The ads need to reflect your goals, for example, use words like “options” “shop around” “compare” within ads of competitive ad groups.

If you do not wish to pay for clicks from competitors, then negative them.

Fourth, you likely have industry specific keywords you need to negative if not relevant to your ads. Examples:

  • Car dealers:  Used, service, parts, pre-owned
  • New Homes:  Mobile, rental, apartments, senior, Zillow, realtor
  • Colleges for Grad degrees:  Undergrad, BA, BS, Bachelors, Associates, online, certifications
  • Technology:  Tech or operating systems that your services don’t work on, like perhaps Microsoft, Windows, or others.
  • Ecommerce: Stores, malls, nearby, directions.
  • Upscale higher priced product sales: cheap, deals, discounts, free, bargain

Think about your own industry. Make a list of what you are and what you sell; then make a list if what you are not, and those are negatives.

On the AdWords platform when you click the keywords tab, there’s a button called search terms. These are the actual queries people used where your ad appeared, and the prospect clicked.  This is the best place to discover other negative keywords which can be sorted by impressions and clicks.  No need to negative every single one, but find the higher impression ones, or phrases that many bad queries have in common, and negative those when you have enough data.

If you need help with optimizing your search campaigns, including negative keyword research, feel free to contact us.  Be Positive!

About Paul Mosenson

NuSpark Marketing Founder, Chief Lead Generation Strategist and Online Media Director An experienced B2B and B2C marketer, Paul has been helping clients generate leads and grow their businesses for over 25 years. Paul helps plan and optimize marketing and lead generation programs.

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