Your Google Ad Words Account Needs Negative Keywords

A few blog posts ago, we talked about the different types of keywords that you can use in your Google Ad Words account to not only grab the traffic you need, but to refine it as well.

What we didn’t go over is negative keywords. (Sorry- you’re not quite done learning yet!)

That’s because – these little gems need some airtime all of their own. In our opinion, negative keywords are just as important as their heavily researched counterparts. At times, they might even be more important – but negative keywords are usually overlooked when first getting going with Google Ad Words. Even in routine PPC management, negative keywords sometimes get put to the side in favor of aggressively optimizing traffic targeting keywords.

Okay, Hold On- What ARE Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are words or phrases that direct Google NOT to show your ads.

If that sounds a bit odd, it certainly does go against all of the work we put in to make sure our ads are shown. But stay with us- we will explain why (as always!)

You pay for every click with Google Ad Words, right? If those clicks are valid, then your ad has served a great purpose and you’re in the position to potentially grab a conversion. On the flip side, if those clicks aren’t valid, you’ve just wasted your daily budget on clicks that won’t result in a single penny for you. Ad group keywords drive traffic to your ads by directing Google to show your ads for these particular terms- and the additional language that comes with it. Negative keywords are words and phrases that tell Google:

“Hey Google, whenever anyone searches for (insert keyword here), I don’t want my ad to show up. That traffic isn’t relevant at all!”
Ps. Speaking of “Hey Google”- have you ever seen this video? We can’t stop watching it here at the office and laughing our butts off.

Negative Keywords in Action

Let’s give a great example of how we used negative keywords to cut down our clients irrelevant traffic by over 34%!

A leading pest control company in the Lower Mainland has a crazy amount of traffic to their ads everyday. With five locations and dozens of quality services, we would expect this amount of traffic- but we wanted to be sure it was all relevant.

We saw in their bed bug control ad group, there was a significant number of searches for “pictures of bed bugs” “home remedy for bedbugs” and “DIY get rid of bedbugs”. Even though our ads do not serve that purpose, people still click them.

(We know, it’s weird. Google is a weird place. We will show you how weird in next week’s blog post- “Yes, this was actually searched on Google.”)

We immediately put “pictures” as a negative keyword. We also put “DIY” and “home remedy”. So, every time someone searches for a picture of a bed bug, our client’s ad will not show up. Every time someone searches for a home remedy, our ads will not show up. Why? Because those searches have zero intent to buy. Our target audience – a convertible audience – is not those looking for pictures of the little pests. Our target audience are those looking to get rid of bed bugs.

The Rules of Negative Keywords

By now, you know that ad group keywords have some rules regarding number of terms in your ad groups, relevancy, quality score etc. In comparison, negative keywords have very few rules. Your account can have millions of negative keywords if necessary and aren’t judged by a quality score in comparison to your ads. You don’t have to group your negative keywords by theme, like you do ad groups and their attached keywords.

Like anything though, there are best practices with negative keywords to keep in mind.

Best Practices of Negative Keywords

  • Without starting to impede on traffic, have as many negative keywords as possible in your account. Unless you have direct keyword conflicts between your negative and ad group keywords, it is very hard to negatively limit your ads traffic by the addition of negative keywords.
  • Just like your ad group keywords, use a variety of match types to limit irrelevant traffic in the same way you use match types to properly refine incoming traffic with regular keywords.

An example of this would be:
Going back to our leading pest control company, adding “home remedy” as a negative keyword was a great way to limit the traffic of those looking to get rid of bed bugs at home. So, why wouldn’t we add “home” to make sure we limited all DIY related searches? Because home as a broad match would be far too limiting- it would stop searches like “get rid of bed bugs in home” or “bed bug treatment for rental home”.

Home remedy as phrase match (home remedy) limits searches including home remedy, but not other relevant searches containing home.
(We are trying to make this as fun as possible, we promise.)

  • Be careful that your negative keywords don’t conflict with your ad group keywords. You will get a notification if they do, but you may have missed out on a bunch of traffic until Google flags it.
  • Plan your negative keywords. A lot of the time, people throw negative keywords on “just because”. Research and plan your negative keyword lists like you do your regular keyword lists.
  • Use account level keyword lists for terms that suit your entire business. Use separate negative keyword lists for each ad group to make sure you are specifically limiting traffic by each product/service.

Adding Negative Keywords

We used our insane drawing skills to demonstrate just how easy it is to add negative keywords in your Google Ad Words Account.

negative keywords are found in ad words function tab The option to end negative keywords is found right under your keywords tab in the Google Ad Words interface. 

how to add negative keywords in adwords interface Adding negative keywords can be done on a one-time basis, or added to a list for repeat use.

Need Help with Negative Keywords?

We honestly cannot stress how important these little beauties are. Strategically though, they can sometimes be a little tough to implement!

So why not let us help? We don’t hold you to any obligations. We can have a quick look and help you determine some killer negative keywords to boost the profitability of your Google Ad Words campaigns.

Ten minutes- talk to us.