Negative Keywords for Search Engine Marketing
Austin PPC Services: Improving Pay Per Click Campaign ROAS
Effective use of negative keywords is an essential component of a Pay Per Click
program. Judicious selection of negative keywords can
increase your click through rate (CTR) and lower the cost of your search engine
marketing program, improving the ROI of your ad campaigns.
keywords are search terms for which you do not want your ads to be displayed. It’s counterproductive to present your ad to someone who is
not looking for what you are offering or is unlikely to purchase your product
or service. Negative keywords prevent the
ad from being shown in these circumstances.
For example, if you are selling expensive 1950’s movie
posters, you might choose the negative
keywords ‘-cheap’ (wrong price segment), ‘-concert’ (wrong product) or ‘-blog
posters’ (eliminates ambiguity in the word ‘posters’). These negative keywords will suppress ad impressions for
search queries containing these terms – reducing your bounce rate and eliminating
the cost of those clicks.
There are several specific types of negative keywords:
Non-shoppers: Indicate that the
searcher is looking for information unrelated to a purchase. This includes searches for jobs, free
products, academic material or reference information.
Examples: ‘-career’, ‘-closeout’, ‘-download’,
‘-free’, ‘-job’, ‘-study’, ‘-training’, ‘-tutorial’
Segment Refiners: Keywords that refine
your product/service niche, and exclude searches for products/services that you
don’t offer. The exclusion can be
on the basis of product feature or capability, geography, new vs. used, or
Examples: ‘-used’ (books or cars),
‘-consumer’ (credit or software), ‘-luxury’ (condo or watch),
‘-electoral’ (college), -recipes
(Indian food), ‘-manhattan’ (clam chowder), ‘t shirt’ (mens shirts)
Ambiguity Resolvers: If one or more
terms in a keyword phrase has an ambiguous meaning, negative keywords can avoid delivering ad
impressions for the unintended meaning.
Examples: ‘-hyundai‘ (sonata), ‘-light’ (bulb sale), ‘-germany’ (hamburg restaurants),
‘-utah’ (jazz scores), ‘-airlines’
(southwest vacations), -movie (trailer), -dallas (cowboy shirt)
You can identify negative keywords specific to your business and major search terms
by examining the search results for unwanted results, or by using a keyword
tool like Wordtracker or the Google AdWords keyword tool. Here's a list of commonly-used negative keywords.
Care must be exercised using negative keywords, to avoid unintended
consequences. An online
bookstore may not want to use the negative keywords ‘-career’, ‘-cheap’ or ‘-tutorial’ because these
appear in the titles of their books!
And, more generally, you may elect to have your ad displayed
to people who are looking for something you don’t sell -- in the hope of
persuading them to purchase your product instead. Generally this should be done in a separate keyword group,
to avoid mixing expensive high conversion terms with less expensive low
For example, a Lexus dealer might have one keyword group
based on the relatively expensive short tail keyword ‘luxury import car’ with
the negative keywords
‘-audi’, ‘-bmw’, ‘-mercedes’ (to avoid paying for clicks from people who are
determined to buy an Audi, BMW or Mercedes) and another keyword group based on
the less expensive keyword ‘new mercedes s class’ (with no negative keywords) to go
after prospects who might be persuaded to buy a Lexus instead.
For more information on using negative keywords, contact Semantic Advantage or
visit our Search Engine Marketing page.