Negative Keywords & How They Can Save You Money

Paid Media Advertising

When a PPC account is created it is critical to pick specific keywords that are most relevant to your business. However, no matter how well your keywords are targeted, Google or Bing’s system might recognize some keywords as being relevant that simply aren’t. Broad match without the use of negative keywords typically results in a lot of wasted spend, which can hurt SMBs that don’t have gigantic advertising budgets. In this article we’re going to look at some examples to help you build a great negative keyword list.

negative keywords

The Basics

When I train people on PPC platforms, after teaching them how to find the right keywords – the next most important step, in my opinion, is to find the negative keywords.

Example: Let’s say you sell books and are targeting the keywords “Online Book Store”. If you don’t give away books for free, you might want to consider negative matching the word -free. This will prevent your ad from triggering the when the keyword “Free Online Books” is queried (searched online).

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool

A great way to find negative keywords is by plugging in a broad version of your keyword(s) into the Google AdWords keyword tool. This way you can find all the different ways Google (and Bing which doesn’t have a great keyword research tool) interprets variations of your keyword.

Go to the Google Keyword tool and search for “Books”. Google will give 800 variations of that keyword. You will see several variations that are not relative to your business. Let’s say you don’t sell e-books, college text books, or give books away for free; you would want to negative match those keywords and all variations of those keywords. IE: -e-books, -ebooks, -e-book, -ebook, -college, -textbook, -textbooks, -free.

Be careful – Don’t Negative Match Relevant Terms

Sometimes, adding negatives can get a little tricky. You have to consider if a negative keyword you want to add could block a relevant query. If you sell books with free shipping, then you might not want to negative match the broad variation of free. Get more specific – you are able to add exact match negatives, to prevent your ad from showing on a specific search query and phrase match negatives that allow a broader blanket while still staying pretty specific.

Example, negative match -“free books” -“free book” and –[free online books], -[free online book]. This will allow you to still show up under the search query online books with free shipping.

Learn From Your Mistakes

While it is important to set up a good list of negatives right off the bat, it is likely that you may have missed a couple of keywords. By pulling search query reports, you can see the keywords that have triggered your ads and further refine your negative keywords as your account accrues more data.

Adding negative keywords can save you hundreds, if not thousands a year depending on your marketing budget. It can be much more complex than the examples above but this is a good starting point when building your negative keyword lists. Good luck!

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

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