One of the more common things I find on a monthly basis when analyzing client Adwords accounts, is more negatives to add to our keyword lists. A negative keyword is a keyword you add to your “Negative Keywords” list on either a campaign or adgroup level. If you add a negative, your ad will not show up if that word or phrase is a part of the search phrase. This is extremely important when you use broad keyword matches, which are the default, and also the most common used match when I see people doing Adwords for themselves.
Google often suggest people set up accounts with broad keyword matches because it will allow for similar phrases you haven’t thought of or common spelling errors, etc. The problem with that, is it also allows your ads to show up with many, many phrases you don’t want to show up for. I have blogged about this in the past, but suffice to say if you are using broad keyword matches, you also have to have negative keywords.
Let’s look at an example. Say you are selling high quality widgets and you create a google adwords account with a basic adgroup that uses the broad match keyword term “widgets”. Common searches that would come up and trigger your ad would be “cheap widgets”, “free widgets”,”widgets jobs” etc. These are very common phrases that come up and that you pay to show up for. If you were to add “cheap”, “free”, and “job” to the negatives for this group or campaign, you wouldn’t pay for these typically low value terms. You will find out over time that certain words bring in bad traffic when combined with your core terms and you need to add them as negatives.
Other common uses of negatives are in competitor names. Some businesses want to show up for competitor names, especiallly if the competitor is not doing a good job keeping their customers. However, often a competitor name combined with your service brings in bad traffic because they were specifically looking for another business and landed on your page by mistake. If you have a very high bounce rate for competitor names, you may want to add them as a negative term.
Consider potential negative terms when you set up your campaign and you can limit the budget leak before it even gets started with common negatives like “free” and “job”. If you have already been running your campaign for a while, take a look at your analytics and the keyword phrases you are paying for. Dig in to the stats for different phrases you see showing up regularly. It will definitely give you new ideas for negatives to get your campaign running a little tighter and more efficiently.
Great post, Jeremy. This often a valuable step people miss out on. Certainly should be a part of businesses search marketing efforts.