Using Negative Keywords to Drive Positive ROI

By Posted in - Blog & Site Traffic Control on April 17th, 2012 0 Comments

When people ask us for one, simple action they can take to dramatically improve a Google AdWords campaign, the answer we always give them is to identify negative keywords and add them to a campaign or account list.

What exactly is a negative keyword?

Negative keywords are search terms on which your business does not want to advertise. For example, if you own a house painting company, and you advertise on the broad match keyword “painting”, you’ll find you’re bidding on terms such as “canvas painting”, “paintings by Picasso”, and “face painting”. Obviously these are terms completely unrelated to your business and your ads, and you’re only wasting money by advertising on them.

By adding terms such as these to a negative keyword list, you can dramatically improve your click-through-rate (CTR), which will in turn boost your quality score and lower your cost-per-click.

How to identify negative keywords and build a negative keyword list?

Before you launch a campaign, you can identify negative keyword just like you would do normal keyword research, but simply make a separate list. Most advertisers will want to exclude terms such as job, career, class, training, DIY, etc. (check this list out for more ideas).

From here, you can create a negative keywords list and paste the keywords you’ve identified.Once you have your initial list, open up your AdWords account and click the “Shared Library” and the “Campaign negative keywords” links along the left navigation.

After you’ve been running your campaign for a bit, access your campaigns’ “Search Terms Report” by clicking on “Keywords” > “See Search Terms” on the AdWords Campaigns dashboard. This will show all of the exact search terms that have triggered your ads, as well as how much you’ve spent and how many conversions they’ve recorded.Once this list is created, make sure you click the “Add to more campaigns” button and associate the list with your desired campaigns.

Mark all of the keywords you want to exclude and click the “Add as negative keyword” button at the top. (Hint: This report is also great for finding new search terms that you should add to your regular keyword list.)

Next, you’ll have the option of excluding the keyword from the ad group, the campaign, or adding it to the negative keyword list you’ve already created.

Repeat this process every few days and soon you’ll have pretty large list of excluded keywords. The more generic your keywords are, the more frequently you’ll need to view your search terms report.

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