Use Negative Keywords to Increase Your Ad's Relevancy & Click-Through-Rate
Implementing negative keywords in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising programs is one of the most important paid search optimization tactics an account manager can practice. The use of negative keywords is a fairly simple concept; these are keywords or phrases that you DON'T want your ad to display for when searched. It can dramatically increase click through rate (CTR) while ensuring that your paid search budget is only being spent on the most qualified traffic.
In order to create a list of negative keywords you need to first evaluate what searchers are typing in the search box when they are served your ad. You can do this by running a Search Query Report. These reports are offered in both, Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter as well as most website analytics programs. With this report you can analyze actual search queries that have triggered your ads and make educated decisions about what keywords or phrases are irrelevant and not appropriate to trigger your ads.
Before you implement a negative keyword list you'll want to apply appropriate keyword matching parameters to each keyword and phrase. This is a critical step in putting together a negative keyword list because you could very easily block desirable keywords and phrases if not done correctly. Keyword matching options apply to negative keywords in much the same way as they apply to regular keywords. There are three different ways you can classify a keyword: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.
- Broad match negative keywords will limit your advertising audience the most as your ads won't display for any phrases that include your specified negative keywords.
- Keywords designated as phrase match will limit your advertising audience by not displaying ads for any search queries that contain the selected key-phrase in exact order. For example, if you select holiday recipes as a phrase match negative keyword your ads will not be triggered by the search query appetizer holiday recipes but holiday appetizer recipes will trigger your ads because holiday and recipes are not in the specified order.
- Exact matched negative keywords and phrases will provide the least amount of filtration because only the exact keyword or phrase, in exact order, and with no additional words will stop your ad from displaying. An example of this would be if you select holiday recipes as an exact matched negative keyword, only the search query holiday recipes would prevent your ad from displaying. The query popular holiday recipes could still trigger your ad because there are additional words associated with the query.
If you're not sure how to classify your negative keywords and phrases, verify with with someone who is familiar with the practice to ensure it is done correctly and desirable keywords and phrases are not blocked.
Negative keywords can be added at both the Campaign and AdGroup level of an account. Adding a negative keyword at the AdGroup level means that the term will only affect that specific AdGroup. A Campaign-level negative keyword will apply to all AdGroups within that Campaign. As with any paid search optimization tactic, once implemented, you should allow your account to accrue data for at least two weeks before concluding whether or not your negative keywords yielded the desired results. You can continue to add negative keywords and phrases by evaluating search query reports on a regular basis.
Negative keywords are a core component of a successful keyword list. A well-targeted keyword list can help lower advertising costs and ensure your ads only display to the most qualified viewers. Unqualified impressions can lower your keywords' Quality Scores and ultimately hurt your return on investment. For this reason, keyword lists, including negative keyword lists should be reviewed very carefully. If you are at all doubtful about performing any of the steps mentioned above, you should consider consulting with a professional in this field. No campaign is complete without a negative keyword list so if you don't already have one, spend some time implementing one and watch your efforts pay off as campaign statistics improve.