Back to Basics: The Forgotten Art of Negative Keywords

Bob Dumouchel

bouncersmEverybody is always so concerned with what keywords do I pick to advertise on. The words you specifically do not advertise on are just as important.

When developing a keyword list, try to think of ways that your words could be related to other topics irrelevant to your business. Take the word coach… think about it for a minute. You have football coaches, baseball coaches, motor coaches, life coaches, Coach Handbags, Coach the TV show, and the list undoubtedly goes on. Well if the word coach is central to your ad campaign you better get to work on brainstorming negative keywords.

Once you’ve done your own brainstorming go online and do some actual searches. See anything that doesn’t match your query? You can use this method to generate more negative keywords. If your Adwords campaign already has some data accumulated run a Search Query Report and see how your keywords are being matched. Another good place to look if you have an analytics package attached to your site is at your organic traffic. Like the Search Query Report, Analytics will show you actual searches that resulted in a visit. Do any of them look a little bit off?

Now that you have all these possible negative words you need to make some decisions. Are they going to be implemented at the Campaign or Ad Group level? And are they the right words? Make certain that a good negative word for one keyword won’t kill the relevant traffic of another.

Once you’re satisfied that you will be decreasing bad traffic without hurting the good stuff, pull the trigger. Let your changes simmer for a couple of days and then check out the impact. Are your CTR’s up? Conversion rate improve? Or has your traffic fallen flat? Even if you’re happy, keep experimenting. Adwords doesn’t stop changing so you can’t either. Whether the results are good or bad, make sure you know why your traffic changed so that you can either fix or replicate the action.