Negative Keywords and Positive ROI Campaigns

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April 15, 2014

Negative Keywords and Positive ROI Campaigns

Negative keywords help control the accuracy and cost of your PPC campaign by reducing the amount of clicks that don’t generate a return. Or simply, negative keywords help make sure people using search engines only see your ads if they are relevant to their search.

If your ads appear for searches that are irrelevant to your business, they could be costing you money. Lots of money. For example, if you are a Ford car dealership and you only sell cars, and not parts, you don’t want people searching for car parts to see your ad and click on it.

Here is an example of what I saw when I searched Google for “Ford Escape gas cap”:


Notice anything wrong? The third result is an ad for a “Brand New Ford Escape” not a Ford Escape gas cap. Sure, a searcher will likely try the first two ads first, but if they don’t find what they are looking for they might try the third. Or, a consumer may believe they are getting factoryOEM parts by shopping at an actual dealer. Finally, a searcher could accidently click the ad or become curious and click the ad to see what the “new” Explorer looks like in comparison to their gas cap-less one.

No matter what causes someone to click your ad when it is delivered for an irrelevant search, it costs you money to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Ford Escape Gas Cap” is searched an average of 40 times per month and costs an average of $0.41 per-click. While that’s only $16.40 a month of potential wasted spend, I can assume this same Ford Escape dealer might show up for a similar search such as “Ford gas cap”, which is searched an average of 90 times per month and costs an average of $0.73 per-click. That’s $65.70 in spend and a lot of leads can be generated for qualified car buyers for $65.70. These two search terms alone, “Ford Escape Gas Cap” and “Ford Gas Cap”, could be costing this advertiser $82.10 a month in wasted ad spend, and these are only two of thousands of keywords that make up their campaign.

With negative keywords, this Ford dealer could exclude their ad from being shown for parts-related searches including “gas cap”. This would save valuable advertising dollars that can be effectively put toward generating car-buyer leads instead.

Creating negative keyword lists can take a lot of work and thought, and must be minded regularly through search term reports and current events. A good campaign manager should regularly update negative keyword lists and always be looking for new negatives to include, making ads more highly targeted to your relevant market.

Here are a few more examples of when negative keywords could have served the advertiser to serve better ads:

Here’s a curiosity search to learn about bail bonds, though I have no interest or need in an actual bail bondsman. The average cost-per-click on “bail bonds” related keywords is $21.23. Ouch!

Searching inspiration and moving quotes yields results for Moving company ads.

Leather Coach purse related search serves a Leather Sofa ad.