Digital Insights

4 Reasons to Include Negative Keywords in PPC Campaigns

Published: January 28, 2015

The selection of negative keywords is every bit as important to the success of your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign as your choice of targeted keywords. Negative keywords act like a gatekeeper for your PPC account – helping protect you from unproductive and wasteful search queries that can drain your ad budget with little or no hope of ever seeing a return on your investment.

If your business is currently running a Google AdWords or Yahoo/Bing Network Ad campaign without using negative keywords, you’re probably wasting money and not getting the results you’re paying for.

What are PPC Negative Keywords?
Sometimes referred to as excluded keywords, negative keywords are the keywords that you want to block from being used to display your ad in the search results. These keywords are generally irrelevant to your ads and product offerings. Because of their failure to reach your targeted buying audience, any clicks they generate will largely be a waste of your ad spend.

How You Can Identify Negative Keywords

  • Once you have completed your keyword research and compiled a list of the most effective keywords for your PPC campaign, you should create a list of the negative keywords that you want to exclude.
  • List those keywords that search users might potentially use to bring up your ads that would be irrelevant to their search needs and to your ad campaign.
  • The Google Keyword Planner can help you research and compile a list of appropriate negative keywords that you might want to add to your PPC ad groups.

Negative Keywords Help Reduce Your PPC Ad Expense
When you incorporate negative keywords into your PPC campaigns, you reduce the chances of having to pay for ad clicks that result from search queries that include keywords that don’t meet your campaign ROI goals.

For example, if you owned a mobile auto mechanic business in Dallas, you would probably include the keyword phrase “mobile auto mechanic Dallas” in your targeted keyword list. By adding “careers” to your negative keyword list, you’ll avoid wasting money having your ad displayed to people who are interested in a career as a mobile auto mechanic in Dallas.

Negative Keywords Help Increase Your Click-through Rate
Your click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of the total number of people who are exposed to your PPC ad who actually click through to view your web page offering. Improving your CTR not only drives more traffic to your web pages, it boosts your Google AdWords Quality Score. The higher your Quality Score, the less you pay for each click to your site and the lower your minimum bid.

Negative Keywords Help Direct PPC Traffic to Your Most Relevant Ad
Negative keywords allow you to selectively direct where your traffic is sent – permitting access to one particular ad while blocking the display of another. This is more of an advanced benefit, but basically it helps you increase the relevance of one of your ads over another for a particular keyword that in turn helps maximize your sales potential.

Because Google displays the ad + keyword combination that has the highest ad rank for a given search query, the wrong ad may be inadvertently displayed at the wrong time. Negative keywords can be used to make sure that the most appropriate ad for a given search query gets displayed.

Negative Keywords Help Give You More Control Over Your PPC Campaigns
No matter how well your keyword and ad groups are organized, they don’t always align with how people search. With negative keywords, you can match your most relevant ad to a given search query, and gain a better insight into which keywords are driving the best results. The more control you have over which message will be displayed to search users, the more profitable your PPC campaigns will be.