Identifying Negative Keywords for Your Search Campaign

Negative keywords can be an impactful component of any optimization strategy for Search campaigns.  A  negative keyword is any word that is irrelevant to the product you are offering and may be mistakenly included in a related search query.  The inclusion of this term will minimize the effectiveness of your offer by bringing irrelevant visitors while also depleting your budget.  This is, in technical marketing speak “No Bueno”, and addressing these are a must for any sustained success in PPC.

Strategically, then, where should a marketer start to formulate a negative keyword list? You should actually start this process before you’ve spent a dollar on marketing your offer. Optimally, begin the process of selecting Negative Keywords right after you’ve chosen your product, during the Keyword research stage.

Recommended strategies include:

Use Keyword Suggestion Tools to Research Popular Search Terms Related to Your Core Keywords

Online keyword suggestion tools are excellent resources for mining negative keywords. To make use of these tools, consider what your most important (core) keywords are going to be for your offer and perform searches for them. Analyze the related keyword combinations that are returned and consider blocking any irrelevant variants.

Tip: Be sure to follow best practices for the platform you are marketing on when adding negative keywords. Some allow for long tail negatives; 7Search works best with single negatives.

Popular FREE keyword tools to consider: Übersuggest, 7Search Keyword Tool, SEMRush,

Quickly Review Autocomplete Suggestions Returned by Search Engines

There is a saying, “The best place to hide something is right under someone’s nose” which is applicable to this strategy. Most search engines utilize an Autocomplete functionality that will populate related search suggestions as you type in your query. Capitalize on this by entering your core search terms and take note of any suggestions that do not work for your offer. These are definite “must-adds” to your negative list as the terms returned are usually the most popular variants in their system.

Popular search engines to consider: Google, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, 7SearchGo

Use Social Media Trends to Catch Negative Keywords Before They Become an Issue

The world is increasingly connected, and viral phenomena can obliterate your advertising budget if you slack on this strategy. Minimize the impact of current events on your search campaign by visiting readily available social/trends tools online.

Let’s consider the following (admittedly ridiculous, but humor me) scenario: Imagine you are marketing a travel site and have been receiving low-cost clicks on the keyword Go. This term does not normally send much traffic, but an occasionally converts so you keep it live. Low-cost, low-risk leads are always welcome, right?

Then, on July 6, 2016, a little game called Pokemon Go explodes on the scene, capturing gamers and media attention alike. A worldwide phenomena and a huge threat to your ad budget (due to the shared use of the keyword Go) born overnight.

Using this strategy, you could have salvaged your budget by quickly adding Pokemon variants to your negative keywords list. Instead, the only thing to “Go” would have been your profits.

Popular tools to consider: Google Trends, Twitter Search, Facebook Trends (must be logged in), YouTube Trends

So That’s It?

Not exactly. The tips above are great for getting your campaign “ready to go to market”. They should be revisited semi-regularly, (especially for Trends)to ensure that you are protecting your ad dollars. We are now at the point where you are ready to buy traffic to your ad.

After your offer has been live at least 24 hours, it is a good idea to review Keyword Activity report to gauge what sorts of queries are driving clicks (and conversions, ideally) to your landing page. Every search platform has their own unique presentation of this data, but the report should at minimum include :

  • Keyword clicked
  • Actual Searched Phrase
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Click thru Rate
  • CPC
  • Conversions
  • Conversion Cost

Get comfortable with this report, as it will be your go-to resource for finding new keywords as well as identifying negative keywords to add.

There you have it. Negative keywords are an incredibly important, yet increasingly ignored, component of creating successful campaigns with . The suggestions above apply to all search platforms; add them to your strategy to drive cost effective leads from day one. Happy hunting!

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