Is your paid search campaign suffering from a low click through rate? Are you wasting money on ads targeting vague or irrelevant keywords? Regain control over your PPC campaign by adding negative keywords to stop showing ads to the wrong people.
Regain control over your PPC campaign by adding negative keywords.
While traditional keywords trigger your ads to display for relevant searches, negative keywords prevent your ads from being triggered. The search networks will know not to show your ad for anyone searching a phrase that contains your negative keyword.
If an electrician adds ‘jobs’ as a negative keyword to his PPC campaign or ad group, he’s telling Google or Bing not to show his ad if a user’s search contains the word ‘jobs.’ So ads for the keyword ‘electrician’ won’t display if a user searches ‘electrician jobs.’ Good thing, because this electrician isn’t hiring and doesn’t want to waste the money he set aside for new business on job hunters.
And here’s what happens if ‘jobs’ isn’t added as a negative keyword…
How to Discover Negative Keywords
Coming up with an initial list of negative keywords is pretty easy. Here are three different categories of sources to help you get started:
1. Starter Lists – There are a number of great negative keyword lists out there. Check them out for inspiration and add the most irrelevant keywords as negatives to your campaign.
- 200+ Negative Keywords to Consider for B2B PPC
- 75 Negative Keywords That Every AdWords Campaign Should Include
- PPC Hero’s Super-Duper List of General Negative Keywords (Download)
2. Search Query Report – You can (and absolutely should) review your search query report to see which searches are currently triggering your ads. Once you’ve pulled the report, you can sort and filter it to find the low hanging fruit–frequently searched irrelevant queries that you’re wasting the most money on. For help, read our Guide to Using the Search Query Report.
Here are two ways I sort the data to look for negative keyword opportunities.
- Sort by highest impressions to see the most popular queries your ads show up for.
- Sort by highest spend to see which keywords are costing you the most money.
Once you’ve sorted your queries, look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate to gauge the quality of the keyword. If the keyword is irrelevant and isn’t resulting in conversions, you can add it as a negative keyword.
3. Google Keyword Planner – This keyword research tool provides a wide list of common and related keywords. Once you’ve created a list in the tool, review it for negative keyword ideas. Learn how to use the Google Keyword Planner here.
Negative Keywords and Match Types
You can use negative keywords together with match types as well. This chart provides an example of the impact of negative broad, negative phrase, and negative exact match keywords. You can learn more about how negative match types work on each network by following these links for Google and Bing.
Please note that adding a negative keyword will stop your ads from showing up for affected words so use them with caution. To be safe, add negative keywords as exact match (with “quotes”). This gives you the most control and limits how broadly your negative prevents ads from displaying. Of course, some words, like ‘jobs’ and ‘download,’ may be safe to add as broad negatives.
Building a search campaign for the first time can be tricky. In addition to choosing your settings and writing your ads, you’ll need to come up with a list of keywords to target. Fortunately, Google’s free Keyword Planner makes selecting your initial list of keywords a breeze.
Google’s free Keyword Planner makes selecting your initial list of keywords a breeze.
Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find keywords (and ad groups) to target in your PPC campaign based on terms that are relevant to your product, service or website. To build your search campaign keyword list, follow these simple steps:
- Sign in to AdWords. You’ll need an account to access the tool.
- Click “Tools and Analysis” in the menu and select “Keyword Planner.”
- Click “Search for keyword and ad group ideas.”
- Now enter words, phrases, or categories related to the product or service you’re advertising, or just enter your website’s URL and Google will scan your page for keyword ideas.
- Click “Get ideas” and Google will generate a list of recommended keywords for your campaign based on what customers are actually searching for.
- You can review your list of keywords from the “Keyword ideas” tab, or see them in grouped into relevant ad groups under the “Ad group ideas” tab. Spend some time looking around this page. You can fine tune your targeting, customize your search settings and see relevant stats like search volume, competition and average costs per click. Search volume is especially important as you’ll want to choose keywords that people will actually search for.
- Click the double arrows » on the right to collect the ad groups and keywords you like into a “plan.”
- Click review estimates to forecast performance with your bids and daily budget. This will help you gauge the traffic you can expect for your budget and can guide your initial bids.
Once you’re satisfied with the keywords you’ve collected, you can either add them to your AdWords campaign directly or click the download icon to export it to a spreadsheet. You can even use this list of keywords to target for SEO or for Bing Ads (bud don’t tell Google, it’ll be our little secret.
Next, learn How Ignoring Match Types Can Kill Your PPC Campaign.
What is Bing Ads?
Bing Ads is the online advertising platform that allows you to reach potential customers across the Yahoo! Bing Network and bring them to your website. Bing Ads allows you to create ads for your business that can display whenever a person conducts a relevant search on Yahoo! or Bing, or visits a site in their network.
Reach potential customers across the Bing Network
How Keywords Work
Keywords are the words and phrases you add to a campaign that trigger your ad to show. For example, if you deliver fresh flowers, you could use “fresh flower delivery” as a keyword. When someone searches Bing using the phrase “fresh flower delivery” or a similar phrase, your ad might appear along with the Bing search results.
How Costs are Calculated
There’s no minimum amount that you have to spend in order to show your ads on Bing. You set an average daily budget for your campaign along with a bid for each of your keywords. Every time someone searches on Bing, Bing Ads runs an auction with these bids to determine which ads show on the search results page. This also determines their rank on the page.
With Bing Ads, you bid for each time a person clicks your ad. This is known as a CPC, or cost-per-click, bid. The amount you’re charged per click depends in part on the maximum CPC bid you set. Generally, this represents the highest amount that you’ll ever pay for an ad click. And since this is an auction, you’ll only be charged the minimum amount necessary to keep your ad at its position on the page.
Where Ads Appear
With Bing Ads, your ads can appear across Bing and Yahoo! owned and operated sites, their syndicated partner sites, Windows 8 Smart Search results, and across computers, tablets, and mobile devices.
When creating your campaign, there are a number of ways to target your ads in order to reach the most relevant audience. You can use any combination of these four targeting options:
Location targeting helps you focus your advertising on the areas where you’re likely to find customers. You can choose from:
- All locations worldwide
- Selected cities, metro areas, states/provinces, and countries/regions
- Near a particular business, landmark, zip code or coordinates.
Bing Ads also lets you target locations you specifically want to exclude from seeing your ads.
Day of Week & Time of Day
You may also choose the when your ads display. For example, you may only want your ads to run during your business hours. Or you find that your click-through rate and conversion rate are highest during certain times. You could then target Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM to show your ads when your potential customers can take action.
Age & Gender
If your typical customer skews heavily toward an age group, or your products are made specifically for one gender, you can use demographic targeting to reach them without wasting your ad spend on others.
You may also target by device and choose to show ads to potential customers when they’re using computers, tablets, smartphones or other mobile devices.
Your budget is your daily spend limit for a campaign, so it should be an amount you’d be comfortable spending per day. Your ads are also shown evenly throughout each day with the standard daily budget. There are also two other budget options: daily accelerated and monthly. Daily accelerated will spend your daily budget as early in the day as possible and monthly will spend your daily budget as early in the month as possible. If you’re on a limited budget, you should stick with daily standard.
Ad groups are containers that hold a set of ads and the keywords that trigger those ads. They also contain a default bid for keywords in the ad group along with keyword-level bids, if specified.
Since ad groups live in larger campaigns, they inherit the settings and ad extensions from the campaign they’re housed in, though you can also apply unique settings and extensions to the ad group.
The first line of your ad is the one that customers are most likely to notice. Consider including your keywords in the headline to make it stand out because people are more likely to notice headlines that match what they’re searching for. Your headline can contain up to 25 characters.
These is where you describe the product or service you’re advertising. Space is limited, so choose your words carefully to highlight the most important details and benefits. Bing Ads allows up to 71 characters for the description.
This line of your ad shows the address of the website that you’re promoting. Bing Ads lets you select a display URL to give people who see your ad a clear idea of where you’ll take them when they click on the ad. This does not need to match the actual URL you send people, so you may want to be creative.
This is the precise location on the website the person who clicks on your ad will be sent. People will not see the destination URL, they will only see the display URL until they click your ad.
Selecting the right keyword list for your campaign can help you show your ads to the right customers as they search or visit certain websites. The keywords you choose should match the terms your potential customers would use to search for your products or services.
When you add each keyword to your campaign, you may also decide how much you’re willing to pay whenever a customer’s search matches that keyword and clicks your ad. This is your keyword’s maximum CPC bid. There is no automated bidding option with Bing Ads.
And yes, you can still use Google’s Keyword Planner to discover keywords for Bing Ads.
Match types give you control over how closely searches must match your keywords to trigger your ads. They’re an additional layer of control over your keywords that let you target the searcher’s intent.
When you have a limited advertising budget, you need to make the most of every dollar you spend. Rather than letting your campaigns daily budget run out every day and missing out on clicks, or spending more than you can afford, consider how you can spend your budget more effectively:
- You can lower your bids to reduce the average cost per click.
- Ensure your campaign is set to “Daily – Standard” instead of “Daily – Accelerated” or “Monthly.” This ensures your budget is spread out throughout the day rather than spending as early in the day or month as possible.
To optimize your ads, try out different ad text to see which ad has the best results. For example, duplicate your first ad and change the headline to see if that works better. When you find a winner, you can test variations of that ad and pause all the others.
Keywords & Bids
You can improve your results and lower your costs by adding, changing, or deleting keywords, match types and bids. For example, if your campaign has been running for a while and your performance data shows that some of your keywords are performing better than others, you could increase your bids for keywords that convert to sales and decrease bids for keywords that aren’t converting to sales.
New advertisers have no trouble adding keywords to their paid search campaign, but far too many fail to change the keyword match types. We’ve seen a number of first-time advertisers creating campaigns with dozens of keywords, but who leave them all set to broad match. Sure, you’ll generate a lot of impressions, but you’ll also have a hard time turning those impressions into profitable clicks and conversions.
You’ll generate a lot of impressions with broad match keywords, but you’ll also have a hard time turning those impressions into profitable clicks and conversions.
The cold hard truth: Leaving your keywords set to broad match is a great way to lose money and ensure your campaign is DOA. Here’s a rundown of the match types offered by Google AdWords & Bing Ads and how they work with your keywords. Be sure to leverage the appropriate match types for each of your keywords to create healthy traffic for your ads.
How Match Types Work With Keywords
Paid search campaigns work by using keywords to trigger ads for relevant searches that take place on search engines like Google & Bing. Your ads are triggered when a user conducts a search that contains your keyword. If your keyword “shoes” is set to broad, your ad could show up if a user searches for “women’s shoes.” Match types give you control over how closely search queries need to match your keywords in order to trigger your ads. They’re an additional layer of control over your keywords that let you target the searcher’s intent. If you want to target buyers of shoes, you could add the keyword “buy shoes” as a phrase match which would make you eligible to display your ads for searches like “where can I buy shoes online.”
Match Types At a Glance
How Match Types Affect Impressions
In general, the broader the match type, the more impressions it will generate with less relevance. The narrower the match type, the more relevant the impressions will be, but with less volume. To put it differently, you can use a few broad keywords to create a campaign that will generate a high number of ad impressions, but you will find that these impressions are for somewhat irrelevant searches. Conversely, you could use a few exact match keywords to create a campaign that will result in very relevant ad impressions, but with low volume.
Keyword Match Types
- Broad Match – This is the broadest match type (obviously). It has high traffic potential but with less relevance. Important individual words could be omitted and certain words can be added (like “jobs”) that dramatically change the intent of a search. I recommend being very conservative in your usage of broad matched keywords. Use them sparingly, apply lower bids, and check your search queries frequently in order to fine tune your keyword list.
- Broad Match Modifier – This is similar to broad match. It has high traffic potential and words can still be added to the query. However, with broad match modifier, you can include a + symbol before individual words to require that they be present in the search query in order for your ads to be triggered.
- Phrase Match – This is the happy medium between broad match and exact match. The keywords must be present and in that order for your ads to display, but words can still be appended before and after them. I recommend using phrase match for most of your keywords.
- Exact Match – This is the most narrow of the match types. It results in extremely relevant searches because you are able to target an exact query, but the search volume is far lower. Make sure to include exact matched versions of your highest performing search queries.
Please note that you can have multiple instances of each keyword in different match types. You should set lower bids for your broader match types in order to focus your budget on the most relevant searches.
Negative Keyword Match Types
Negative keywords allows you to target keywords that you don’t want to show up for. They also can be used in conjunction with match types for tighter control.
- Negative Broad – If you don’t want your ads to ever appear if a query contains “jobs,” you can add “jobs” as a broad match negative keyword. Be careful with broad negatives however, as they could create conflicts with your keywords and prevent your ads from appearing for relevant searches.
- Negative Phrase – If you don’t want your ads to appear if the query contains “print jobs,” add “print jobs” as a phrase match negative keyword. Phrase match negatives are relatively safe if you avoid very common phrases that a reasonable searcher could include.
- Negative Exact – If there is a specific irrelevant search query that your ads are frequently showing up for and you don’t want to ever appear for it again, you can add it as an exact match negative keyword. It isn’t worth your time to include exact match negatives for searches that take place once a month, so focus on the high volume search queries you want to exclude.