Use Negative Keywords to Control Costs in Your Pay-Per-Click Campaign

- December 23, 2008

Sometimes it pays to be negative…especially when optimizing a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign.  The main goal of Google and the other search engines is to deliver the most relevant paid (and natural) results to a search query when a visitor uses their search engine.  Seems pretty simple and works exceptionally well when you have a well structured PPC campaign.  If someone searches on a keyword that you feel is relevant to your business, be sure that keyword is included in your campaign.  But what happens when the search query triggers your ad and the visitor isn’t the most targeted prospect?  Well, you still have to pay for that click and if that continues over time, you could be wasting a sizeable portion of your budget on unqualified traffic.  Implement negative keywords into your campaign to help cut costs, optimize your campaign and zero-in on your target customer.

For example, if you provide a high-end product or service, utilize negative keywords like “cheap”, “low cost”, and “inexpensive”.  This will help filter out visitors who are looking for your “type” of product or service, but aren’t the target customer who can afford your product or service.  It seems like a simple idea but the savings are real and the higher your target budget, the greater the cost savings.  In addition, negative keywords will help overall campaign optimization because your ads will not be delivered to the wrong search query.  You could expect to see higher click-thru rates (CTR) and better conversions as the visitors generated by your sponsored ads become more targeted. 

Google has a keyword tool which helps campaign managers develop keyword lists.  This same tool can be used to develop negative keywords as well.  Leverage the broad match search settings within the tool and it could return thousands of possible keywords, many of which can and should be added to the campaign as negative keywords.  In addition, if you have Google Analytics tracking on your site, utilize that tool to determine your best and worst performing keywords.  By reviewing both the organic and paid traffic (and the keywords that generate that traffic) you can further expand your negative keyword list with the non-performing, budget wasting keywords.

Quite simply, by implementing negative keywords you can help optimize your campaign, drive more targeted traffic to your site and save money on your PPC costs.  That is the formula for success in search engine marketing and ensuring a favorable return on your advertising spend.

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