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Tips for a Negative Keyword PPC Marketing Strategy

August 3, 2012 · 4 comments

in PPC Advertising

Negative Keywords PPC Marketing StrategyIf you’ve ever managed a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, you know just how frustrating under-performing or useless keywords can be. The bad and good news is that these are complete financial wastes that can be eliminated. Ideally, you only ever pay for clicks that turn into sales for you. But in the real world, 100% conversion never happens.

So we have to do everything we can to improve the results we get.

PPC campaigns are generally keyword-based. As search engine or site users visit pages, your advertisements are displayed in context of the content on the page. But not all content is appropriate for your ads. This is where negative keywords come into play.

Negative keywords allow you to filter out those pages where your ad may have been displayed. Using negative keyword features can dramatically improve the conversion rate, which results in better return on investment and more qualified sales leads. Overall, negative keyword management is a critical piece to improved PPC performance. So here are a few tips for managing this aspect of your campaign.

Be specific

Just as with any campaign, from direct mail postcards to social media marketing, it is of vital importance to know what you are marketing. Sounds simple, but many keywords lead to a plethora of off-topic sites. So know how you can market in the most specific way possible. If you are advertising a wood cutting service, people who type in the word wood will get anything from wood cabinets to a news station, or even wood-fired pizza. This could leave your ad at the end of page twelve and never seen, or clicked on out of mere curiosity and thereby costing your company. Therefore, handyman or yard work might be keywords to use and wood put on the negative keyword list.

Be patient

Handling negative keywords takes time, but remember the more time you take up front in researching possible missed hits will be worth it in the end. You do not want to pay for unnecessary hits, so read your ad carefully and evaluate which words will bring up irrelevant requests. Whomever your company uses to make a list of negative keywords needs to understand the importance of slow meticulous assessment of your marketing ads.

Keep records

Documentation of your keywords can lead to a huge database that seems overwhelming. However, making a spreadsheet can eliminate future research. Keep a record of these three things: list of negative keywords, reasons why these words are negative, and where these words are located in the ad your company is using (if present). Your list will most likely be large, but these lists will become priceless in future marketing campaigns for your company.

Rely on your search query reports

This is a data driven part of the process. Using available tools, look for search queries that generally result in low-to-no conversions. Generally these search queries contain keywords that are not useful for you. Using data to identify keywords takes the error out of an intuition-based process of finding negative keywords and lets you focus on what your actual PPC campaign is producing.

Negative keyword management is vital when you’re ready to start cleaning up your campaign. A few keywords in this list can result in dramatically improved ROI as you filter out customers who are likely not interested in what your ad is marketing. While you will see a drop in clicks, you will find your conversion rate shift upwards and your cost per customer plummet, a very good reason indeed to take advantage of a negative keyword PPC strategy.

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Tara Hornor has found her passion writing on topics of branding, web and graphic design, photography, marketing, and advertising. She is Senior Editor for, a business that specializes in link building, content creation, and more. Check out @TaraHornor on Twitter for more graphic design and marketing advice.

Tara has written 8 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex August 4, 2012 at 12:24 am

Nice tips, Tara. Thanks!


Tara Hornor August 11, 2012 at 12:43 am

You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it useful. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


Sarmista Aun December 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hi Tara,
Great post! To save your advertising dollars, it’s really important to utilize negative keywords in your ad campaign.


Tara Hornor December 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Thanks! Yes, it is so important!


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