Control Performance By Proactively Adding Negative Keywords

irrelevant searches


We all know about the importance of negative keywords, that’s certainly nothing new. But why wait until your search queries start rolling through in order to add negatives and weed out irrelevant traffic? There’s always an opportunity to add negative keyword in advance, which can help to save what-would-be wasted spend on a query learning curve. Sure, a few irrelevant terms will slip through – that’s why negative keyword research is a never-ending task – but adding negatives up front can help improve the quality of traffic out of the gate.

The Usual(s)

There are some queries that always seem to come up, no matter what you are advertising. Keywords around jobs and careers fall into this category for certain. There are also some weird/dirty (o_O) keywords that often seem to fall into this category, as well.  One of the best precautions to take when building a new campaign is to go ahead and add negative keywords to ensure that this riff-raff doesn’t come through. There are a few available resources to help you so that you don’t have to do as much of the legwork.

Clix Marketing has a giant list of negative keywords for your optimizing pleasure. The top of the list has universal keywords that can be added to almost any campaign. Then, as you scroll, you’ll see more negatives that are specific to different verticals.

Techwyse has a great list, too, and it is formatted in a similar fashion which is really helpful.

There are quite a few other lists that were built specifically for different verticals or B2B. You might be pleasantly surprised at how many negative keyword lists that you can find just by Googling.

Before blindly adding keywords, you should absolutely review the lists and remove any that might not make sense for your campaigns.

The Proactive Research

In addition to adding negatives from negative keyword lists, which are generally a bit more broad and canvassing, it’s good to do your own personalized research. I love to use the Google and Bing keyword tools for this. Enter terms from your keyword list into the keyword tool and see what kind of things pop up. These are things that Google and Bing deem similar to the terms you are targeting. Now of course, what your ads will show for largely depends on your keywords and your match types.

Still, though, I find it to be beneficial to add irrelevant keyword tool results as negatives to ensure that they don’t come up as close variants or through a broad match.

You can also do proactive research by Googling terms and checking out the results. If they aren’t similar to you, it might not hurt to add a few negatives. This won’t change the fact that you’re competing with them on head terms but it will help to ensure that you aren’t competing on long tail terms that aren’t applicable (via broad or phrase match of your terms).

In addition to that, try to think of any reasons for why you might not be a good fit for a consumer. Maybe it’s size or maybe it’s rush delivery – go ahead and add negatives for those things so that you don’t pay for those clicks. One example of this is where a client is unable to help consumers in certain states. We set our geo-settings to exclude those states and our advanced location settings to target only people *in* our targeted geography and excluding anyone in or searching for excluded geographies but we still saw other states sneaking through the search queries, so we went added all states outside of our business area as negatives.


The Negatives For Mapping

Adding negatives to improve search query mapping is a great way to ensure that *relevant* queries are paired to the best fitting keyword in your account. This is less about avoiding irrelevant traffic like the above sections have mentioned, and more about ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward.

Check out a post I wrote a while ago on Search Engine Land for more about the beauty of mapping.

How are you being proactive with your negative keyword strategy? Share you strategies with us in the comments!

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