The positive impact of negative keywords

Negative keywords neglect

We took on the management of a new AdWords account a few months ago.  This Company were not new to AdWords, in fact they had been running AdWords campaigns on and off for over 10 years.

When we first got access to the account we went through our standard AdWords health check to get an understanding of where this account was in terms of performance.

We were shocked.  Actually, we were flabbergasted to find that despite having multiple campaigns, each containing several ad groups and well over 300 keywords, with a healthy budget in excess of €100 per day, this client did not have a single negative keyword in their account.

There is only one scenario where this type of setup could work.  This is where you only use [exact match] keywords.  This certainly was not the case – this account contained keywords of different match types, without that is, the all-important negative keyword match type meaning the account was running wild.

Upon detailed review, we found the client was wasting over 20% of their spend per month on irrelevant, nuisance clicks

Quick recap – what are negative keywords? 

So what a negative keyword?  Essentially by adding a negative keyword to an ad group, will stop your adverts triggering if that term is included in the search.

For example, if you sell luxury leather handbags, you probably do not want your ad to trigger when someone searches on ‘cheap leather handbags’, so what you can do is add the keyword ‘cheap’ to your negative keyword list.  Once done, going forward your adverts will never again show if someone includes the word ‘cheap’ in their search.

The negative keyword is, without question, one of your most effective and easy to use tools in your AdWords arsenal and the more attention you pay to negative keywords the sweeter your AdWords will sing.

The activity within your AdWords account will likely dictate how much time you, or the third party AdWords management company you retain, allocate to hands-on AdWords management.  The addition of negative keywords however, should certainly form a key part of this.

There are two ways to identify negative keywords.  The first is by using the search term report within the AdWords dashboard

Screenshot from the AdWords dashboard showing the search term option

Search terms in Google the Google AdWords dashboard

The search term report details the actual searches that people made that lead to keywords triggering your ads.  Negative keywords can be added direct from the search term section within AdWords.  Alternatively the search terms can be downloaded to excel and then reviewed more carefully, identifying the negative keywords to add to campaigns and then expanded on and refined as required.

The second way to use negatives is somewhat of a cheat! That is, there are many negative keywords that can be applied to most AdWords accounts across the board from when the account first goes live.

Below we have broken these down into different themes.  Feel free to review these and if happy, include them in your AdWords campaigns as negative keywords.

Negative keywords by type

How global are you?

Perhaps you sell across the world, or maybe you don’t.  Select the countries that you don’t want your ads to show on if they form part of a search (for ease I’ve grouped them by region)

Afghanistan
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei
Burma
Cambodia
China
East Timor
Hong Kong
India
Indonesia
Iran
Japan
Korea, North
Korea, South
Laos
Macau
Malaysia
Maldives
Mongolia
Nepal
Pakistan
Philippines
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Taiwan
Thailand
Vietnam
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Georgia
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Moldova
Russia
Tajikistan
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
Uzbekistan
Albania
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech Republic
Hungary
Macedonia
Poland
Romania
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Anguilla
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Bahamas, The
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
British Virgin Is.
Cayman Islands
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Cuba
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
French Guiana
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Martinique
Mexico
Montserrat
Netherlands Antilles
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Puerto Rico
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Suriname
Trinidad & Tobago
Turks & Caicos Is
Uruguay
Venezuela
Virgin Islands
Bahrain
Cyprus
Gaza Strip
Iraq
Israel
Jordan
Kuwait
Lebanon
Oman
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Syria
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
West Bank
Yemen
Algeria
Egypt
Libya
Morocco
Tunisia
Western Sahara
Bermuda
Canada
Greenland
St Pierre & Miquelon
United States
American Samoa
Australia
Cook Islands
Fiji
French Polynesia
Guam
Kiribati
Marshall Islands
Micronesia, Fed. St.
Nauru
New Caledonia
New Zealand
N. Mariana Islands
Palau
Papua New Guinea
Samoa
Solomon Islands
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu
Wallis and Futuna
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central African Rep.
Chad
Comoros
Congo, Dem. Rep.
Congo, Repub. of the
Cote d’Ivoire
Djibouti
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia, The
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Reunion
Rwanda
Saint Helena
Sao Tome & Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
Togo
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Andorra
Austria
Belgium
Denmark
Faroe Islands
Finland
France
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Guernsey
Iceland
Ireland
Isle of Man
Italy
Jersey
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
San Marino
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom

 

All of Ireland, some of Ireland, or just one county?

If you only sell goods or services in certain counties, you could add negative counties.

Antrim
Armagh
Carlow
Cavan
Clare
Cork
Derry
Donegal
Down
Dublin
Fermanagh
Galway
Kerry
Kildare
Kilkenny
Laois
Leitrum
Limerick
Longford
Louth
Mayo
Meath
Monaghan
Offaly
Roscommon
Sligo
Tipperary
Tyrone
Waterford
Westmeath
Wexford
Wicklow

 

Tech and software 

ajax
apple
burn
burner
c++
cd
code
community
dbase
delphi
desktop
developer
developers
disk
DIY
do-it-yourself
download
downloads
dvd
error
excel
file
filemaker
files
flash
forum
fox
free
freeware
game
games
gnu
hack
hacks
java
libraries
library
linux
mac
macintosh
mdb
microsoft
microsoft
mysql
open source
os x
osx
php
public domain
retail
retailer
retailers
sample
schema
shareware
sheet
shortcut
shortcuts
source
spreadsheet
sql
template
templates
tip
tips
unix
vb
video
visual basic
windows
xls
xml
xsl

 

Education & Learning

book
books
class
classes
college
colleges
course
courses
learn
school
schools
textbook
textbooks
training
tutorial
tutorials
universities
university

 

Research and Information

about
article
articles
association
associations
book
books
case studies
case study
definition
diagram
example
examples
guide
guides
history
how do i
how to
info
information
journal
journals
magazine
magazines
map
maps
metrics
news
opinion
opinions
photo
photos
pics
picture
pictures
rating
ratings
research
review
reviews
sample
samples
statistics
stats
success stories
success story
tutorial
tutorials
what are
what i
what is
white paper
white papers

Legal & regulations

act
act
act of
act of
compliance
compliance
law
law
laws
laws
legal
legal
legislation
legislation
regarding
regulation
regulation
regulations
regulations

Manufacturers & Industrial

antique
consumer
export
exporter
exporters
hobby
import
importer
importers
measurement
model
models
regulations
rent
rental
repair
repairs
retail
retailer
retailers
rules
safety
specifications
specs
standards
store
toy
toys
used
vintage

Products

aluminum
ceramic
cotton
fabric
glass
gold
iron
leather
metal
paper
plastic
rubber
silver
stainless steel
steel
stone
vinyl
wood

Do it yourself

craft
crafts
create
creating
DIY
Do it yourself
hand made
handmade
home
homemade
how can
how do
how does
how to
make
making
when can
when i
where can

Cheap & Bargain

bargain
clearance
close out
close outs
closeout
closeouts
discount
discounted
free
freebie
freebsd
freeware
giveaway
gnu
gratis
gratuit
inexpensive
liquidation
no charge
no cost

Adult

Add your own words here…….!

 

Which negative keyword match type should you use?

Like with normal keywords you have options in terms of match types:

Negative broad – this match type can filter out many variations of the selected word.  Every word that you have in the negative keyword will need to appear in the query for the negative keyword to filter it out. For example if you have the negative broad match term blue suede shoes and someone searches, where do i buy shoes that are blue suede, your ads will not show.  This is quit similar to how broad match modified keywords work.

Negative phrase – this match type (marked with quotation marks ” “) will filter out any phrases included within the quotation marks. For example, having “blue suede shoes” as a negative keyword will prevent your ads showing if someone’s search includes the phrase blue suede shoes, however, ads would show if someone searches for blue shoes.

Negative exact – this match type (marked with square brackets [ ]) will filter out exact searches.  For example, if your negative is [blue suede shoes] and someone searches new blue suede shoes your ad will still appear as it does not match the negative term exactly.

Should negative keywords be added at the campaign or the ad group level?

The account structure, the set up of the campaigns and ad groups, and the actual negative keyword in question should be considered when deciding at what level to add a negative keyword.  Adding keywords at ad group level gives you much more control however, requires more hands-on management.  Like other aspects of AdWords the more time that can be devoted to management the better the results will be.

Summary

The regular addition of negative keywords should be one of your most important monthly AdWords management tasks.  The examples of negative keywords provided above can be added to your own campaigns and ad groups, applying the appropriate match type.  When adding them, take care to ensure all the keywords you select are negatives for you, otherwise you might find your ads not running when you want them to.  When used properly,  Negative keywords, will reduce wasted spend and make your account perform better.


Do you want to find out more about Negative keywords? Or are you looking to out source your Google AdWords Management? Drop us a line at SWOT Digital and we’d be happy to discuss how we can help you.