Negative Keywords in AdWords: Accentuate the Positive

If you are advertising on Google and you don’t know what negative keywords are, you need to find out.

Negative Keywords

Companies that are particularly vulnerable to not knowing about negative keywords are those that setup AdWords using Google’s Starter Campaign as well as those companies that employ a “set it and forget it” mentality for their AdWords campaigns.

Negative keywords are the words that you do NOT want to trigger your ads. They are words for things that you don’t sell or services you don’t offer. You can start your negative keyword list pretty easily by just thinking about related phrases that don’t apply to what you offer. For example, if you have a bookstore that sells only new books, you could use “used” and “free” as negative keywords.

If you are not sure which keywords you should add as negatives, take look at the Search Terms report in AdWords to find all the words that have triggered your ads in the last 30 days. In the Keywords tab in AdWords, click Details, and then All under Search Terms.

Search Terms ReportThe resulting report will show you keyphrases that triggered your ads to display. Based on the keyphrases on that list, you can determine which phrases should not have triggered your ads and add them as negative keywords.

I recently ran this report for a new client and they found that over the last 30 days they had paid $90 (30% of their monthly budget) for 87 clicks to their website for products they do not sell. Unless your campaign is setup with only exact match keyphrases, Google will show your ad for keyphrases related to those you specify.

By knowing and naming your Negative Keywords, you can Accentuate the Positive and make sure your ads only display for the correct keywords.

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