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  • 8 Best Ways to Find Negative PPC Keywords

    PPC

    If your ads display on irrelevant searches, then either you get clicks and waste money (as the searchers are very unlikely to convert), or you don’t get clicks and CTR drops (which affects Quality Score and therefore your CPC).

    So how do you stop this? Part of the answer is choosing keywords carefully – be careful with general terms and use modified broad-match where appropriate – but for the best performance possible you need negative keywords to target your traffic properly.

    1. Search Query Reports
    The most obvious way, but also the most important. Look at your search query report and see what terms your ad is actually displaying for.

    Look for patterns. See if there are repeated words or themes that are irrelevant. For example, say you sell red shoes, and as such have ‘buy red shoes’ as a keyword on broad match. If phrases like ‘buy blue shoes’ and ‘blue shoes for sale’ appear in your search query report then adding ‘blue’ on broad-match negative rather than excluding the searches individually with exact match is preferable:  not only will it exclude the searches you’ve noticed, but it also excludes long tail searches you haven’t seen.

    This may be a simplistic example, but you might spot a trend in your search queries that leads to other new negative keywords. Seeing ‘blue’ may make you think to exclude other colours. Seeing ‘jobs’ may make you think to exclude ‘recruitment’.

    Also try to think about what the searcher is looking for with their query. Is the search term actually the name of a book or film? You may want to search for stranger terms on Google yourself to make sense of them.

    2. Use Someone Else’s List
    Some negatives come up all the time, so it can help to look at something like KoMarketing Associates’s list of negative keywords for inspiration. Don’t add terms to your account without thinking – some might be relevant for you! – but it is a good starting point.

    3. Use Keyword Research Tools
    Google’s Keyword Tool shows you what Google thinks is relevant to your keywords, so if someone searches for a term it suggests it’s likely to display your ad. So see if you think the highest traffic suggestions are actually relevant, and if they aren’t then exclude them.

    Something that scrapes Google Instant suggestions (like Über Suggest) can also give you ideas of popular searches that start with your keywords, to include or exclude as you see fit.

    4. Your Positive Keywords
    You’ve worked hard to structure your account, sort keywords into the best possible ad groups, and write adverts specially tailored to those groups. You don’t want to lose this work by having searches display the wrong ads.

    If you’ve got a general ad group for ‘red shoes’ and a more specific ad group for ‘shiny red shoes’ you’ll want to exclude ‘shiny’ from the former so that it doesn’t steal the latter’s traffic. Making sure searches go to the most specific ad group possible means that they see the most specific ad possible. Also, it’s easier to track performance – you can’t as easily tell how well ‘shiny red shoes’ searches perform if they are split over multiple ad groups and mixed up with other terms.

    5. Competitor Research
    Whether you should bid on competitor terms is beyond the scope of this post, but even if you do then you should keep them separated from your other keywords (as searches with a brand attached will behave differently to searches with no brand at all), and so competitor terms should be used as negative keywords. Don’t just think of the brand name:  think of their product names as well.

    If you know of brands who have a similar but different market you could exclude them as their audience will be uninterested in your product:  for instance if you sell women’s clothing you could use as negative keywords brands who specialise in men’s clothing.

    6. Analytics
    Looking at Analytics gives you behavioural information on searchers for some keywords, although this is limited to keywords you already rank for organically and people who found your site relevant enough to visit (and soon it will exclude people who search Google while logged in). If there is a keyword with high traffic and no conversions, then it could be a good negative keyword.

    7. Monitor the Media
    Using social media monitoring or Google alerts can show if your brand terms have uses unrelated to you which you didn’t previously know about.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that you never know when there will be news or a trend that’s related to your keywords but not your business – and that could be expensive if there’s a sudden explosion of searches that your advert appears on. If you advertise in the travel vertical, for example, then you may need to react to disasters and current events in destination countries, either by adding negative keywords or (in extreme cases) pausing ad groups.

    8. Misspelings adn Typiong Mistaakes
    People don’t have to type carefully into search engines or use precise spellings – they may even be searching to find the right spelling! So you should expect there to be searches with misspellings and typos. If you have ‘cheap’ as a negative keyword, even on broad-match, you can still find your ads appearing on searches for things that are ‘chep’ or ‘ceap’ or ‘chap’. So when you’ve found an important negative keyword you may want to think of its misspellings too. Typo generators can help.

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Tamsin has worked in PPC for three years, and has qualifications for Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Marin Software. She enjoys finding new (and increasingly complicated) ways to use for Excel. Before getting into paid search Tamsin studied Physics and Philosophy at Oxford University. In her spare time she enjoys sci-fi, fantasy, card and board games and (on a less geeky note) baking.

    16 Responses to “8 Best Ways to Find Negative PPC Keywords”

    1. Hugo says:

      Solid piece here! It’s a nice refresher and I even got some new resources out of it (like the typo generator!).

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    4. [...] PPC Keywords Posted by Digital Segments on Oct 31, 2011 in PPC, SEO | 0 comments Source: SEOptimise – If your ads display on irrelevant searches, then either you get clicks and waste money (as [...]

    5. Sarah says:

      Great article, Tamsin! Thanks for sharing the link to KoMarketing Associates list of negatives. I hadn’t seen this before, and it’s definitely useful especially for new accounts that haven’t accumulated enough history to generate conclusive SQRs. Negative keywords can be the best and worst thing about your PPC account. We actually just published our own article about using social media to help find relevant negatives, so in case this is also useful to anyone, feel free to check it out: http://www.ppchero.com/using-social-media-to-identify-negative-keywords/

    6. Sam Tilston says:

      Very helpful, hopefully save me a few quid everyday, cheers.

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    8. Derek says:

      Nice set of points and recommendations. Thank you for the mention of our blog post!

    9. [...] 8 Best Ways to Find Negative PPC KeywordsNegative keywords help target traffic properly and help lessen the chance your ads will display on irrelevant searches. This post gives eight easy tips for incorporating and finding negative keywords. [...]

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      [...] 8 Best Ways to Find Negative PPC KeywordsNegative keywords help target traffic properly and help lessen the chance your ads will display on irrelevant searches. This post gives eight easy tips for incorporating and finding negative keywords. [...]

    11. [...] 8 Best Ways to Find Negative Keywords: Whether you’re using someone else’s keyword list as inspiration (why not?) or monitoring what’s being said (or not) in the media, you can definitely find negative keywords for your campaign to avoid paying for that which would never convert. [...]

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    14. [...] 8 Best Ways to Find Negative PPC KeywordsNegative keywords help target traffic properly and help lessen the chance your ads will display on irrelevant searches. This post gives eight easy tips for incorporating and finding negative keywords. [...]

    15. Pavel says:

      There is one thing often overlooked when working with keywords in AdWords. By default plurals, misspellings and close variants are included for exact and phrase match options that are used in your AdGroups. But with Negative keywords there is different scenario. If you want to exclude keyword for ex., ‘shiny’ you add it to negative keywords list. But if user will make mistake and type ‘shiyn’, ‘shint’ etc. then your Ad will be shown. So it’s extremely important to add all possible variations for negative keywords, especially those with high level of impressions. There is Keywords Toaster tool available in Chrome Webstore which allows to quickly and simply create exhaustive negative keywords list https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/keywords-toaster/ogppjpooagbgekafnpijhiiopgcgdalp

    16. chetan says:

      very helpful, saves my hours of time on research. Good Job!!

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