If you’re looking for new ways to improve your PPC campaign, then negative keywords are your friend. But what are negative keywords and why should you use them?
Google provides the following explanation:
“Negative keywords let you exclude search terms from your campaigns and help you focus on only the keywords that matter to your customers. Better targeting can put your ad in front of interested users and increase your return on investment (ROI).”
This essentially means that negative keywords are search terms that you exclude from your campaign in order to optimise your results and reduce wastage. What’s not to love?
When do you need to use negative keywords?
Let’s imagine that your business has some Love Island merchandise for sale and you want to create a PPC campaign to target those searching for Love Island merch. Your keywords might include terms such as ‘Love Island tshirts’ ‘Love Island merch’ etc. but you want to avoid any wasted clicks from people who won’t be interested in Love Island stuff. How do you go about this? You can use negative keywords. For example, you might get some wasted traffic from people searching for terms including the word ‘island’. So, in order to minimise this wastage you could use your negative keywords to avoid people searching for holiday-related clothes etc. Or, if there is a particular type of merchandise that you don’t sell you could add that to your negative keyword list, such as ‘Love Island iPhone cases’ so that you don’t get the wasted traffic from this.
Like keywords you can decide whether your negative keywords are broad matches, phrase matches, or exact matches. A negative broad match means that your ad won’t show if the search contains some of your search term, or a different order. A negative phrase match means that your ad won’t show if the search term includes these terms, it may show if there are extra words however. A negative exact match means that your ad won’t show if the exact search term is used.
There is no one size fits all for negative keyword matches, the match you choose depends on the context of your advert. For our imaginary Love Island campaign, you would want to include ‘Love Island iPhone cases’ as an exact match so that you still get the ‘Love Island’ search query traffic.
You can also split your negative keywords at the campaign level of the ad group level. If you wish for certain traffic to go to one particular ad group, you might use negative keywords on another ad group. Campaign level negative words will exclude that search term from the entire campaign, so it is important that you choose the right level for your negative keywords.
If you’re stuck for negative keyword ideas, use the tools available to you. Google’s Keyword Planner only gives your keyword ideas but this can be helpful for identifying words that might be irrelevant. Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas of things that might be irrelevant when you’re focused on things that you want to trigger your ad so using keyword planning tools can help prompt these ideas. There are other tools you can use for this such as UberSuggest – this platform gives you keyword suggestions amongst other things to help you rank.
There are also generic negative keyword lists that you can use for inspiration. We wouldn’t recommend just using these as each campaign is unique and therefore your keywords and negative keywords should be too.
Another thing you should do is always keep an eye on your campaigns and add negative keywords as you go along. This is important because, even if you do hours and hours of research, you can never completely predict what people will search for and what, consequently, will trigger you ad. If search terms come up and waste clicks you can add them to your negative keyword list to optimise your campaign.
Below are examples of keywords that Google provides to give you more of an idea.
So, what are the positive effectives of negative keywords?
Well first of all, it helps you save money. You can eliminate lots of wasted clicks by implementing a good negative keyword strategy. It is often a neglected part of campaign optimisation but is arguably the easiest way to save you money and increase your ROIs. The budget you save can be then used for quality searches so everybody wins.
Whilst saving money is great and all, the optimisation of your campaign is even more rewarding. You can indirectly increase your quality score with negative keywords because it will (hopefully) increase your click-through-rate and ad relevancy. Improving your quality score will help you rank higher which should mean more clicks.
Negative keywords can also optimise your ad groups, not just your overall campaign. As we discussed earlier, negative keywords can be added to campaign level or ad group level depending on your campaign goals.
It allows you to be specific. You can make sure that you’re avoiding things that you don’t want your brand to be associated with, or hone in on certain products and services and exclude the rest. PPC campaign details are essential to success and negative keywords enable you to do this.