How to Find & Use Negative Keywords for PPC Marketing

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If you do PPC and have confusion with how to use Negative keywords or are confused with what negative keywords and the match type are with PPC, this post will help you.  Even if you are an experienced PPC Marketer, this post could help generate some new ideas to find and create negative keyword lists to advance your campaigns, help you drive more relevant and targeted traffic and hopefully more revenue.  If you have any other questions about how to find or use negative match keywords with PPC campaigns, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.

What is a negative keyword match type?

A negative match type or a negative keywords match is when you use a specific keyword or phrase to block your ads from showing when it is present during a search query on a search engine.  If you sell red apples but not green apples, you can add the word green into your campaign.  If the search engine is doing it’s job, when someone types in buy green apples, your ad will not show (in theory) because you added the negative keyword match “green”.  However, if someone searches Granny Smith or other types of green apples, but your negative keyword list does not contain the phrase or words “Granny Smith”, it may still show because you did not add negative keyword phrases to your list like “Granny Smith”.

Why add negative keyword lists to your PPC campaigns

There are numerous reasons you want to add strong negative keyword lists into your PPC campaigns.  The first is that negative keyword lists can help to generate more targeted traffic that can convert better on your site.  By having more targeted ads showing on relevant queries, your click through rate can go up.  When your click through rate goes up, your overall PPC cost per click can sometimes go down because your quality score may go up.  By having a higher click through rate, you can also sometimes gain a higher percentage of the search queries for the specific keywords you are going after because the algorithm recognizes that your ads are creating a great user experience for their search engine.  It is very important to have strong negative keyword lists in your PPC campaigns and these are only some of the reasons why.

How do you find negative keywords for PPC?

how to find negative keywords for ppc
how to find negative keywords for PPC campaigns

This one is easy at first, but takes creativity to get good at really targeting your ads and creating a strong negative keywords list.  The first thing you can do is think of things that are not relevant.  You can have colors, you can have other types of the same service or product or you can have completely irrelevant meanings of words.  If you click on the image above, it gives a few examples of what to think about when you are looking to build negative keyword lists for your campaigns or want to know how to find negative keywords for PPC ad groups.  The main keyword in the image is Auctions.

If you are using an auction to sell a specific product or own a large auction site, these are some of the negative match keywords you may want to add to your PPC campaigns.  I’ll go through why and then give an example for diamond rings and then white crew neck tshirts.  The first is if you are bidding on the keyword auctions.  If your auctions are all online auctions, you want to think about what people are searching for that are not relevant for you.  The wrong type of auction can generate a list of negative keywords for your PPC campaigns.  Airport auctions and estate auctions are probably not good for you since they are in person if you only have online auctions.  You also need to think about if it is the wrong type of search.  If your products are new, good negative keywords for your PPC campaigns could be returns, damaged, used, etc…  You should also think about quantities.  If you only sell single products, wholesale, pallets, bulk lots, etc… could make great negative match keywords for your PPC campaigns.  The next thing to think about are targeting down even more specific.  Instead of just using the word airport, include airport codes, cities and their abbreviations, states by name or code or even animal and product types that you don’t carry.  I’ll give two examples of finding negative matches for your PPC campaigns below.

Diamond ring – The first thing to think about is the material and the color of the band.  If you only have titanium and white gold, use negative keyword phrases for your campaigns like yellow, platinum, silver, etc…  These could make great negative keywords for your PPC campaigns.  The next thing to do is to go off of the gem stones, try using rubies, ruby, emerald, topaz, garnet or other stones in case someone is looking for a diamond and sapphire mix.  Another thing to think about when trying to find negative keywords for PPC campaigns is the size of the diamond.  If you only sell 2 karats or larger, use sizes like 1/4, quarter, 1, one, 1/2, one half and if you only carry solitaire, then make sure you add negative keywords to the campaigns where multiple diamonds could show up.

White crew neck tshirts – If you are trying to sell white crew neck tshirts with PPC campaigns, here are some things to help you get started building negative keyword lists to add to your PPC campaigns.  The first is to include all colors except for white.  Next add in specific patterns.  If your shirts are all undershirts, get rid of some of the terms like graphic, fashionable, etc… which could be for people looking for outerwear.  If you don’t sell any form of tank top, then add in short sleeve or use tank and tank top as negative keywords in your PPC campaign for this product.  If you don’t have long sleeve but you do have short, try adding in negative keywords like long, long sleeve, long sleeved and long sleeves.  Because you only have crew neck, V neck, scoop neck and other terms are also not relevant so you’ll want to add them to your negative keyword list as well.  Think about the common styles that are not relevant and take the words that make them different and add them to your negative keyword list in your campaigns.

Finding negative keywords to use in your PPC campaigns is only part of having success with using this match type.  The next thing is knowing how to use negative match keywords for your PPC so you don’t actually lose exposure and potential sales.  This can get tricky however it becomes a lot easier with practice.

How do I use negative match keywords for PPC marketing?

how to use negative keywords in ppc
how to use negative keywords in PPC

Using negative keywords or negative matches within PPC seems easy, but it also gets tricky.  You might sell multiple colors or styles or materials of a product, so including negative keywords in your main campaign may not be a good idea.  Instead you’ll want to create negative keyword lists for your ad groups instead.  Here are a few things to think about if you have not used negative match type before and also a few examples like above with how to do it. The first example I’ll use is jobs, next we’ll go back to a jewelry store with campaigns built around rings and after we’ll go back to tshirts.

Jobs – If you need to build a negative keyword list for a job site or if you are a recruiter inside a company, you need to think about everything you could be hiring for and bring the right person to the right page.  A person going after an executive job will want to know the history of the company, the other executive team members, high level benefits and financial data.  A person looking for seasonal work will want to know how many hours, what the pay range is, etc…  These all use the phrase job or jobs, but are worth different amounts to you and will need different landing pages, ads and have different search volume levels.  We’ll focus on trying to find an executive level person for this example.

The first thing to do is to get rid of people looking for things that use the word job but aren’t related to careers.  There are lots of terms from the porn industry and there are famous people and even head hunters or executive recruitment firms like Steve Jobs from Apple or Robert Hand which is a recruitment firm I found in the Google keyword tool when actually building a similar campaign.  Next you need to think about the career level of the person.  Although the porn and famous people terms may be good for the overall campaigns, by adding Xmas, seasonal, part time, hourly or temp to your campaign level negative keyword lists, you may block it from showing in the ad groups you use to target the groups meant to attract executive level job seekers.   Instead you want to click on the individual ad groups built for the executives and add in the seasonal and part time job terms that wouldn’t be relevant for them.  Now your ad group should only show for someone that might be looking for a CFO job in Texas or a CEO job in NYC.  You’ll also add your executive keywords to the part time and admin ad groups to help make sure they show up for the relevant job seekers.

Jewelry store negative keyword lists – If you are building out a negative match keyword list for a jewelry store that carries emeralds, diamonds and sapphire rings, you’ll want to be extra careful.  I would recommend creating a unique ad group for each stone and each material type.  Once you have these you can add in the other materials to the ad group level negative keywords list (not the campaign level) and then go into the specifics.  You may also want to create individual ad groups for mixed stone rings in case you have people looking for diamond and ruby or emerald with diamond rings.  If you add emerald to the total campaign negative keyword list, your ads in the emerald campaign might now show up which is why you want to only add it to the ad group level campaigns so that the ads will take you potential customers to the landing pages that do not feature anything with non relevant keywords.

Tshirt stores – Think about what we talked about above when creating a negative keyword list for PPC campaigns.  Instead of adding stone types to your negative keyword lists, change them to the colors that are not in the group.  The next thing you’ll want to do is add in fabrics, patterns and shirt types.  If you are only selling white cotton undershirts and you also sell blue tshirts and black graphic tshirts, you’ll need separate campaigns for all of them.  In the white cotton undershirt ad group you’ll want to include terms like wool or polyester, graphic, over, overshirt, blue, red, black, etc…  In the other ad groups you’ll want to include the terms and products that you don’t carry or that exist in other ad groups.  If you have a separate campaign built out for sweaters, you may want to block sweater terms like wool, cashmere, etc… from these ad groups but not the campaign level to help make sure you don’t show up for the wrong searches and then add the regular keywords from these groups to the negative keyword list in the campaigns built out for the other similar products.

PPC is one of the most fun channels you can work with.  There are almost always new campaigns and ad groups you can build.  You can constantly test landing pages, ad positions, ad copy and even new variations and misspellings of keywords.  You also get real time results so you can tweak as necessary.  When you start to use different match types like negative keyword matches, you also get to create negative keyword lists which can be a lot of fun and sometimes challenging because you really have to think about what the user is looking for and what could cause your ad to show up that isn’t relevant to your products or services.  Google now offers a way to generate some negative keywords with their ad planner tool, but by looking at the keywords they recommend you may want to use with their keyword planning tool, you can find a ton of great negative keywords to add to your negative keyword list within your campaigns and ad groups.  If you have any questions about how to use negative match keywords or how to find negative keywords for your PPC campaigns, feel free to leave a comment below.  Thank you again for reading and let me know if there is a topic you would like to see me write about or if there is something you want me to go into more detail on.

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