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Building Negative Keyword Lists

Building great negative keyword lists increases the success of your Google Ad Words campaigns, and reduces your ad spend. Learn how negative keywords work.

Ashlyn Ayers
By Ashlyn Ayers   |  

 Jul 11, 2019

Building Negative keyword lists

Negative keyword lists are as important to your PPC campaign as a well-built keyword list. Often an overlooked step in PPC management, negative keyword lists can not only elevate the ROI of your Google Ads campaigns but actually stop you from throwing money down the "digital drain."

How are negative keywords different from other keywords?

PPC keywords help you determine the kind of traffic that is driven to the Google Ads you have created within your campaigns. In contrast, negative keyword lists help you determine the kind of traffic you keep away from those same ads. 

The concept of keywords and negative keywords aligns with the understanding of your target market - you know whom you want to advertise to, and so, you use keyword lists to drive your ads to to them. You also know who you don't want to advertise to, so, you use negative keyword lists to keep your ads from showing to searchers who use these terms. 

Let's look at an example:

*Lauren runs a small boutique selling women's fashion, shoes, and accessories. She runs Google Ads to support her online sales and wants her ads to target the same kind of buyers that she sees in her store each day. 

Given the hypothetical situation, we don't know enough about *Lauren's buyer personas to describe her most accurate target market. However, we do know the following things: 

  • *Lauren's store only sells women's clothing.
  • *Lauren operates a business where she sells things (give us a minute, you will see where we are going with this one!)
  • *Lauren has noticed on her search term report that people have searched for "*Lucy's Bracelets" - a local vendor - and clicked on *Lauren's ads to see  if she sells them. *Lauren doesn't. 

So, how can *Lauren make sure that her ads only show up to searchers who meet the parameters of her target buyer?

using negative keyword lists to sculpt search traffic site-search

There are many ways to ensure that your ads are showing to your target buyer as often and frequently as possible. Building great keyword lists and match types are some of them, however, negative keywords act as a safeguard for the many instances in which traffic coming to your ads may not be 100% what you need. Let's shoot back to *Lauren and look at a few scenarios:

Back up broad match

*Lauren has only just started running Google Ads, and wants to keep her traffic relatively open. For that reason, she wants to keep broad match keywords in her ad groups. 

Let's say she has the keyword women's Converse shoes in her ad group. This may still trigger searches by males looking for any kind of shoes (welcome to broad match). Her ad may appear for somebody not actually looking for women's Converse shoes at all. 

In her negative keyword list, she may want to include men's, man's, male, and boys. This will mean that anyone searching for Converse shoes for a guy will not be shown her ad. 

Free? no thanks 

Remember how we mentioned that *Lauren sold things? The very seemingly obvious statement may not be so obvious - a good percentage of people searching for free stuff online still click ads. The word free should likely be added to *Lauren's negative keyword list, to eliminate those not looking to pay. If *Lauren sold luxury items only, she may want to consider adding cheap into her negative keyword list, to ensure her ads align with the buying intent of a given searcher. 

reduce wasted clicks 

*Lauren's store does not sell *Lucy's Bracelets, which she notices are searched for a lot and are using up many clicks a day. Aside from the consideration that she may want to consider them as a vendor, *Lauren should also consider putting this brand in her negative keyword list (in various match types). This will ensure that people looking for this vendor are not shown *Lauren's ads. 

Google PPC and negative keyword lists can be toughgoogle-ppc-laptop

We get it. PPC management can be difficult when starting out, and negative keyword lists add more to the mix. Successful PPC campaigns can drive healthy conversions for your business' marketing initiatives, but can also be a big money drainer if not strategically executed from the get-go. 

For a free consultation on your PPC campaign management get in touch with us today.

Just need a little help on the the how-to of building your negative keyword list? We can do that, too. We're ready to help! 

Show Me How to Build My List 

Ashlyn Ayers

Ashlyn Ayers

An Okanagan native, Ashlyn has a strong background in operations, marketing, and sales. She's also a certified French wine scholar and sommelier, so she also brings a touch of class to our team!

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