Using Negative Keywords

In case you didn’t see it – great article on voluntourism in the Baltimore Sun yesterday!

Now that Google is using expanded broad match to trigger ads from “travel ppc”, getting a comprehensive list of negative keywords is a good idea. Below is a list created from the fab folks at SEOptimise that might be useful in maximizing campaigns. Happy Google-ing!

1. SEO Book Forums
Most campaigns will want a generic list of negative keywords. Things like “free” or “reviews” are good examples of negative keywords for any sort of campaign that sells a service or product online. The SEO Book has a huge list of negative keywords on their SEO Community Forums. You need a subscription to access the forum; I don’t think it’s worth getting one just for this but if you have one already then make use of this resource which is a great negative keyword starting point.

2. Google Keyword Tool
This is an obvious one but it’s still worth mentioning. When you’re using the tool to look for keyword ideas and you see something that isn’t relevant to your ad group then select “negative” from the drop down menu and prevent your ads from showing.  You can also use any other keyword tool in a similar way.

3. Google Analytics
Once you’ve implemented the Google Analytics filters I talked about last week you’ll have a list of the search queries people used when they clicked your ads. Not only is this a great for finding new keyword variants it’s also a good source of possible negative keywords.

4. SpyFu
Get a SpyFu report on your own domain name. SpyFu works by doings its own Google searches and scraping the results. If it says you’re bidding on “Price searches” then an ad with your domain as a display URL is showing an ad for that term. You can also have fun trying to guess what broad match terms your competitors are using based on their paid keywords.

5. The Google SERPs
Everyone knows that when you do a Google search the search query appears in bold whenever it is written on the results page. What people may not have noticed is that Google also emboldens (is that even a word?) related terms that it thinks are semantically linked to the search query. For example if you search “SEO” then “search engine optimisation” also appears in bold. If you see something in bold that isn’t relevant then add it as a negative.

6. Google Search Based Keyword Tool
The new Google Search Based Keyword Tool is designed to help you spot missed opportunities in your AdWords campaign. Like most keyword tools it can also be used to find good negative keywords. This one is worth mentioning in its own point because it also gives you suggested landing pages for each new keyword. If one of your existing PPC landing pages is appearing as a suggestion for a lot of negative keywords then this suggests that the page should be more tightly optimised to prevent Google matching it with other PPC search terms.

Another useful thing to remember is to keep thinking in terms of your ad groups when adding negative keywords; if you have an ad group for “red cars” and an ad group for “blue cars” you should add “blue” as a negative in the “red cars” ad group. Otherwise expanded broad match might decide that since your “red cars” ad group has such a great quality score it might display that ad on the query “blue cars” even if you have [blue cars] as an exact match in your other ad group.

There is also a useful summary of a discussion on how negative keywords are matched over at seroundtable which is definately worth a look if you’re adding negative key phrases rather than just keywords.

Copyright SEOptimise. Original article from our Search Marketing NewsSearch Engine Marketing