If you have been working with Google AdWords for a while you’ve most certainly been prompted with an opportunity for adding Negative Keywords. If you have been skipping this opportunity (to understand what it means for your campaign/ad group, and whether the suggestions are relevant) it could be bad news. This means – in most cases – that you are wasting money and getting worse campaign performance than your ad texts and keywords might deserve.
It’s missed opportunity if you are not frequently checking up on your popular search terms to see what people have been searching when they’ve seen and clicked your ad. Very often you will get traffic from highly irrelevant search phrases. They cannot be considered as relevant traffic despite clicking your ad. The person clicking could’ve either not read the ad text to begin with, or have read it but felt optimistic it’d have the answer they are looking for. Or why not clicking it just to make sure you pay for wasting their time turning up under an irrelevant search term?
Caution with Negative Keywords
A Negative keyword is a keyword that is filtered out from your campaign. In other words, your ads will not show if a search phrase consist of any keywords you have listed as negative. Make sure you are not being sloppy with your negative keywords though. Multiple times I have seen words being filtered out that the advertiser shouldn’t have. Luckily, if you happen to go against yourself aka filtering something out that you have in your (non-negative) keywords, Google should notify you within a couple of days. But this is only for the same words. You’ll have imagine search terms and sentences not to accidentally filter yourself out on something that might be important.
How to Guard Your Ads Visibility
In Google AdWords you can go to either the “Keywords” tab for your entire campaign, or for a specific ad group. Once you are in the “Keywords” view, there’s a button in the navigation bar above the graph. The navigation bar you want to click is “SEARCH TERMS”, and then go to “Search Terms”.
In this view you can see searches that have been conducted and received a click to your Ad. Do not see this click as positive, if the search conducted is highly irrelevant. Instead, you want to be creating a list of words to filter out.
While you can bulk select several keywords and add them to your negative list, there is also a different, perhaps more effective way that you can do it. As you might have noticed all negative keywords you add in that fashion, are automatically set to be exact matches. An exact match is when a keyword is within brackets like [ ].
Instead, consider simply adding negative keywords as phrase matches. As in, adding your negative keyword into quotation marks, “”. That way you can have “salary” as a negative keyword, and not having to add [carpenter salary]. While the outcome of this is the same, with the first alternative you are not going to have to also filter out [salary carpenter] – since the phrase match “salary” will just make sure any search term consisting of this word is not going to be showing your ads.
Negative Keywords in Action
Let’s say you advertise for a local carpenter. The number of words you’ve decided to invest in initially are only a few, as the budget is very limited. If you have included the keyword “carpenter” (phrase match), not followed by anything (in other words, not a long-tail keyword) you know for a fact that you must add several keywords as negative.
For instance, you are going to want to filter out keywords such as:
“salary”, “education”, “hourly rate”, “lesson”, “YouTube”.
I added “YouTube” to this scenario just to add something different, and perhaps less obvious. Imagine someone is searching for something like “Carpenter bathroom YouTube tutorial”. Just to take one horrific example. Your Ad wouldn’t be relevant for a search term that consists of “YouTube”.
If you would use an exact match however, you would not have to add negative keywords in the same fashion. But generally expect less ad engagement. We normally type in more than just one word when conducting a search. If I am looking for a carpenter, I would also include the specific service or type I am looking for.
Anyway, let’s get back to why we filtered these words out. It is dead simple. Since you used the keyword “Carpenter” your ad could potentially also be shown in any search just including the word carpenter. It’s not uncommon that someone looking to educate him or herself to be a carpenter, wants to see what salary he or she might get.
It has suddenly become obvious as to why you need to add negative keywords, especially in this scenario. While you are most likely going to end up with a lot more negative keywords than suggested above, you also need to constantly monitor what searches has triggered your ads.
Adding the Negative Keywords
Just in case you aren’t familiar with how you add a negative keyword. It is another thing that is dead simple. All you want to do is head to your “Keywords” tab on the Ad group or Campaign level and click “NEGATIVE KEYWORDS” in the navigation bar above the graph.
You can select whether you want the negative keyword(s) to be added on a campaign level (essentially for all existing, and all ad groups to come) or on ad group level. You’ll have to decide what’s best to use. If there is no chance of a word being relevant in any ad group, I would simply set that word on campaign level. Instead of adding it to each ad group (time saver).
Also use an appropriate matching type for your keyword. As broad matches can include synonyms and variations of a search, I would not risk being filtered out of something relevant. Most of the negative keywords that I add to various campaigns are simply single words, in the phrase format. Such as filtering out a model/type or service that you cannot or do not offer.
Negative Keywords Can Be Tricky
The concept of Negative Keywords is easy to understand but often tricky to work with. Mostly, it boils down to you paying attention to where your ads appear. There will most certainly be no campaign where you aren’t going to have to add negative keywords for maximum relevancy. Therefore, you must guard the search terms that are used to trigger your ad groups. Before starting, try to add some negative keywords based off your ad groups keywords that could potentially waste your money. If you are using broad matches, this could mean a lot of extra work since broad matches may trigger on synonyms and a variety of different searches.
If you need help with your campaign’s negative keywords, request free consultancy through me!
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