Negative keywords for a positive effect?
It is a truly humbling moment when you realise that not everyone has a use for the product you put your blood and sweat into. It’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time – and that’s fine! What is not okay is wasting resources on a target group that is not looking for your product.
What if there was a way to focus your ad campaign only on interested people? This is exactly where negative keywords come into play. They ensure that your ads are not seen by irrelevant traffic.
What are negative keywords?
Negative keywords allow you to weed out the target group that is not interested in your offer so that you can focus on the right leads. Used correctly, they can thus make online advertising more efficient and profitable.
If you want your website to appear for “car insurance” when that term is mentioned in a Google search, but not when a person searches for “cheap car insurance”, a negative keyword would ensure that your ads for the latter do not appear. The more specific you can choose this, the better. This way you can avoid wasting money on people who will never buy your product or service – no matter how often they see your ads.
Different types of negative keywords – An example
There are three types of negative keywords you can use in your Google Ads campaigns: broad, phrase and exact matches. Let’s take the keyword “board games” as an example.
Negative broad match: Your ad will be excluded if the search contains all negative keywords, even if the words are in a different order. This can appear even if only some terms are included in the search. The broad match is the default setting for all Google Ads accounts.
|Top board games||No|
Negative phrase match: Your ad will not be displayed if the search contains all negative keywords, provided they are in the same order. The search query may contain additional terms, but the keyword must appear in the same order to be excluded from the search results.
|Top board games||No|
Negative exact match: Your ad will only not be displayed if the search contains the exact negative keyword. No other items may be included in the search.
It may seem contradictory to exclude large groups of people from your campaign, but adding negative keywords can help you immensely to improve your “return on investment”. You will find that there are many behaviours and habits of potential customers on the internet that you can use to refine your keyword list. Below are some examples of how adding certain terms can help improve your campaigns:
Improve the quality of potential customers: Negative keywords not only reduce the number of unqualified leads in your campaigns, but also improve the quality of the leads that show up.
Improve the click-through rate (CTR): If the target group is more interested in your product, you have a much greater chance of getting more impressions and thus increasing your click-through rate.
Save money: Including unwanted keywords in your campaign costs you money you don’t have to spend. Negative keywords help keep these costs down and maximise ROI.
Tools for the right (and wrong) keywords
Numerous Google tools help you find potential negative keywords. Here you will find an overview of Google’s tools:
- Google Keyword Planner: The main purpose of the Keyword Planner is to find keywords that you can target. The tool can also be very helpful when you are trying to find negative keywords. For example, if you enter “boots”, it will show you the total number of monthly searches for that term and related terms such as “cowboy boots”. If you only sell rain boots, you should exclude “cowboy boots”.
- Google Search Terms Report: The “Google Search Terms Report” shows you the number of impressions, clicks, CTR and average cost-per-click (CPC) for specific search queries. We can see exactly which search terms lead to your ads being displayed. The report gives you an insight into the user’s mindset that led them to your website. Based on the search queries used by users, you can determine exactly which keywords you should highlight and which you should exclude.
- Google Search: Yes, even a simple search query can give you added value. When searching for keywords you want to target, pay attention to what other results come up that you want to exclude later. For example, if you run a music shop, you could add irrelevant search terms that appear as suggestions.
What does all this mean for your company?
Negative keywords are an important part of any Ad-campaign as they help to optimise your results, save you money and reduce the number of unqualified leads, which ultimately improves your return on invest.
By including such keywords in your campaign, you can narrow down the pool of available searches and improve the quality of potential customers and leads. The more specific you are, the less money you waste on people who don’t want to buy your product.
Whether it’s keyword research, ad placement or search engine optimisation, we are happy to assist you as your marketing partner!