What are Negative Keywords?

By Guest BloggerNov 09, 2012

Dave Crader explains what a negative keyword is and how it can be used to increase the ROI of your AdWords campaigns. He'll walk you through two examples of possible negative keyword situations for both e-commerce and service industry related websites. If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment below.

What are negative keywords? Well, negative keywords are simply the keywords on Google that you do not want your ad to appear for when someone searches for that keyword. So you may be wondering, "Well, I only put the keywords into my campaign that I wanted my ad to appear for, why would I need to add negative keywords?"

That's a good question. What's happening here is that Google tries to guess other relevant phrases related to your keywords and pulls your ad up for those relevant phrases in addition to the keywords that you added to your campaign.

Now, that's only going to happen if you are using broad match on your keywords without a bracket or without quotes around them. Now if you're using phrase match, which is quotes around your keyword or exact match, which is the brackets around your keyword, this won't happen as much and negative keywords won't be as important. But, if you're using broad match you need to make sure that you are monitoring your keywords and implementing these negative keywords when you are appearing for ads that you did not intend to appear for.

Okay, so for example, let's say you are an e-commerce website owner and you own hat-a-rific.com. Let's say you're running an AdWords campaign and you enter the keyword "hat" into AdWords. Now, since that's such a broad phrase, Google is going to pull you up for phrases like "blue hats", "red hats", "green hats" and that's great if you sell blue hats, red hats, and green hats, that's good, keep all those phrases.

But, let's say you don't sell purple hats. Maybe you don't like purple hats so you don't sell them. You would want to add that as a negative keyword to prevent yourself from paying for a keyword and a product you don't have.

As a second example, let's say you're in the service industry and you own a website called streetsweeperman.com. Now, you might have put some keywords like "street sweeping services", "street sweeper company", "street cleaning" all into your AdWords account. But, you might also be pulling up for something like "sidewalk cleaning", "sidewalk sweeping services", and those aren't really related to your business so you'd want to add those as negative keywords.

Now, in addition to those, you might also be pulling up for something like "street sweeper man scam" or "cheap street sweeping services", you might not want to pull up for those. If people are typing in "scam" next to your business name, they might be looking for some bad reviews about you or maybe they heard something. So you don't necessarily want to pay for a click if someone is searching for bad reviews about your company. Same goes with "cheap street sweeper." Maybe you provide excellent, high quality services and you are not selling on the cheap side of things so you wouldn't want to pull up for those either.

Another keyword that's very common is pulling up for your competitors. Now this can lead to some legal issues, maybe, maybe not. But it's safe to not pull up for any keywords related to your competition.

So in summary, by using negative keywords you can reduce the cost on your account and improve your return on investment. It takes time to develop these keyword phrases that you don't want to pull for. But if you constantly monitor it on a monthly basis, over time you can have a really targeted AdWords account than can really start to improve your return on investment the more negative keywords you add.

Some of the best AdWords accounts in the nation have hundreds of thousands of negative keywords. So, update your negative keywords often and read our future blogs for methods on how to identify these negative keywords.

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