July 28, 2017 | Sarah Danks

Focus on the Negative. No, Really.

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.¹

Accentuate the positive.²

Don’t be so negative.³

It’s so important to remain positive — in life, in business; everywhere. That being said, there are times when one does need to focus on…

…The Negative (cue the intro to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony).

That’s right. I’m going to talk about a negative subject. Namely, negative keywords. Not only that; I’m going to discuss how focusing on the negative can actually lead to something positive. Who knew pay-per-click could be so edgy?

We all know keywords are the bread-and-butter of any PPC campaign. Yes, yes, the ads are also important, as are the landing pages, but your ads won’t even show without someone searching for The Keywords.

That being said, WHAT people search for and HOW they find your ad is a big deal.

PPC isn’t just about bidding on these keywords and managing the ad copy and optimizing your landing page for a great conversion experience.

Negative Keywords, That Is!

A good pay-per-click marketer also knows to focus on the negative. Keywords, that is. If you have to ask “Why?” then you need to keep reading. (But, just a hint: The keywords you don’t want your ads to show up for are just as important as the keywords you’re paying for to trigger your ads.)

Naturally, the first step in starting — or taking over — any PPC campaign is knowing the business you’re promoting and what their objectives are (including what type of visitors they want to attract, to get the leads/sales they want, etc.), and after that the first action item is keyword research.

Proactively Researching Negative Keywords

While you’re researching all the words for which you want the client’s ads TO show, you need to also be putting together a list of words for which you want the ads NOT to show. Obviously this is the proactive way to obtain negative keywords.

This is the time to compile a list of “no-brainer negative keywords,” all of the words that make no sense to trigger ads based on the client’s needs. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of great no-brainer negative keywords to consider for B2B.

Once you’ve got all your keywords lists — positive and negative — organized into their respective ad groups and campaigns, your ads written, etc., it’s time to launch. Now, since you’ve already started out with a good list of negative keywords, your ads are less likely to show up for irrelevant queries.

Reactively Researching Negative Keywords

However, as the campaign lives on, invariably your ads will show for keyword phrases that you just don’t want them to…

…assuming you’re using any match type other than [exact]. Only time — and clicks — will dictate these no-good keywords; once they start showing up you can isolate these keywords and add them to your negative keyword list(s)since you have access to the data in AdWords/Analytics.

Finding and adding these bad keywords to your negative lists is simple. In AdWords, click the Keywords tab (if you’d prefer to work by specific ad groups, you’d click on the ad group you want to work in first; then hit the Keywords tab). From there you want to click Search Terms:

This will give you a list of all the queries for which your ads were clicked upon. From there, you can select each “bad” query with the box on the left and then “Add as negative keyword.” This will grab the entire query and make the entire thing negative (in exact match).

If you don’t want to nix the entire query, but only the one or two keywords that aren’t relevant for you, you can go about this a different way (or, if the query is too long, AdWords won’t allow negative keyword queries over 10 words in length).

Either in AdWords or Analytics (go to Acquisition > AdWords > Search Queries) you can find the queries for which you don’t want ads to show for; from there you can make a list of all the bad keywords and enter them into AdWords Editor as broad match negative keywords. PS: if you’re not using AdWords Editor, you definitely should be.

If there are two (or more) keywords in a query that compound to make a negative query, you can add those two (or more) keywords as negatives, but be sure to use the “phrase” match type.

Your “workout” here is managing your negative keywords one week at a time. When you begin a new week, head into AdWords (or Bing Ads, whatever you use) and set your timeframe as the previous week.

Then wade in there and find any bad keywords your ads are showing up for and throw them into your negative keywords lists. It’s a simple, quick (if you do it weekly!) and highly effective way to (micro?)manage your keywords. Plus, the better you are at managing your keywords from the get-go — and monitoring the account weekly for any “bad” keywords that slip through — the quicker this process will be.

Think all this PPC management sounds like a lot of work? Let us do it for you! Give us a shout — we’d love to talk.

¹Elbert Hubbard

²Johnny Mercer

³Who knows?



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