Understanding negative keywords, part 2—Guiding online searchers directly where you want them to go

Understanding negative keywords, part 2—Guiding online searchers directly where you want them to go

Published: November 25, 2015 by LoSasso
Categories: Data, Media, Website development

As a loyal reader of our blog, you’ve surely mastered what each type of negative keyword does. Now, it’s time to put in place a negative keyword strategy. Successful negative keyword implementation not only saves you time and money by avoiding unwanted traffic, it is also instrumental in funneling searchers to the most relevant content, providing a better user experience and positively influencing site convertibility.


Below are some tips for creating an effective negative keyword strategy that have helped improve campaign performance for my clients.


  1. Choose the match type that makes most sense

Thoroughly understand the function of each negative keyword match type and select the most effective one at blocking the search query (or similar terms) being evaluated. For example, for search query, “what is the best sleep medicine that will not advance dementia,” it is not a good idea to add “best sleep medicine” (as broad or phrase) if your business sells “sleep medicine board review courses.” Instead, add this term as exact and add a few versions of similar searches (from reviewing search terms) such as [best medicine for sleep] [best medicine to get sleep]. Master the functions of each match type and use the one that makes most sense.


  1. Use negative keywords at the campaign and ad group levels

Use of both campaign and ad group level negative keywords is a critical part of negative keyword strategy. Take a home appliance store for example. For campaign “Washers,” we may want to block terms related to other rooms in the house (such as “sofas,” “chairs” and ”coffee tables”), other household appliances (such as “dishwashers” and “dryers”) as well as other broad terms that do not apply (ex. “free” and “used”). Within this campaign, you may have ad groups “Kenmore Washers,” “Samsung Washers.” In that case, it’s necessary to block “Kenmore” in the “Samsung Washers” ad group and vice versa. This strategy ensures funneling of search traffic to the most appropriate ad group with the most relevant ad copy.


Important Note: When duplicating ad groups, be aware that this includes duplicating ad group level keywords. It is always necessary to check negative keywords (and other ad group level settings) to ensure applicability.


  1. Use a shared negative keyword list across campaigns

Applying keywords across campaigns is done most quickly by adding them to a shared keyword list. This list can include all campaigns or only a few campaigns closely related to each other (for example, a list shared across branded campaigns versus product campaigns). Developing a list of common negative keywords (ex. careers) for your clients can help save time and money when new clients come on board.


Pro tip: Sometimes you may also run into negative keywords that may not apply at the moment but may become relevant in the future or vice versa (ex. seasonal offerings, products in development). In this case, having a negative keyword list dedicated to these terms can help you quickly target/avoid traffic coming from those keywords.


  1. Keep a negative keywording schedule

Negative keywording should be performed regularly. Depending on the search volume, two to three times a month is a good starting point. To avoid duplicated efforts, I recommend keeping a negative keywording schedule. For example, if you decide to do negative keywording twice a month, on the 16th of June, review search terms for date range June 1 - June 15th, and on July 1st, review search terms for date range June 16 - June 30.


  1. Review negative keywords quarterly

It is recommended that you review all of your negative keywords twice a year to remove negative keywords added by accident or mistake. This is especially helpful when there are multiple account managers working on the account and may have different approaches to negative keywords.


Closing Thought:

Over my two years at LoSasso, I've noticed a lack of negative keyword strategy across all industries and company sizes. So, if you are a client, ask your agency what their negative keyword strategy for your PPC account is. What are we doing for to separate traffic for our brand from our competitors’ brand terms? Are we using advanced techniques to help improve cost effectiveness? Keep your agency in check.