Negative Keywords Should be a Positive Not a Negative

- September 7, 2011

Most of us have been told at some point and time to use moderation and not over indulge. This advice holds true when it comes to negative keywords in paid search campaigns. Just like over indulgence, too many negative keywords can hurt your paid search campaigns.

Negative keywords are designed to help tighten the focus of your campaign. Let’s say you’re a jewelry company that only sells solid silver jewelry and your company bids on related keywords. Negative keywords that could benefit your campaign are “how to clean”, “wholesale supplier”, “how to make”, “gold and”, etc. All of these could potentially be negative phrase match keywords.

Negative phrase match keywords prevent your ads from showing when someone types in that keyword phrase in that particular order. This means that people searching for “how to clean silver jewelry”, “silver jewelry wholesale supplier”, “how to make silver jewelry”, and “gold and silver jewelry” should not trigger your ads to show. This is a positive because your company doesn’t give tutorials on how to clean or make silver jewelry, you’re not a wholesale supplier and you don’t sell gold jewelry. However, too many negative keywords could actually be a negative and block your ads from showing for relevant searches.

Negative keywords become a negative to your paid search campaigns when they block your ads from showing for relevant searches.   Let’s continue with the example above. If your company adds a negative such as “buy silver chains”, it could be blocking potential customers, especially if you are bidding on the term “silver chains” to refer to a necklace. In this example your company is working against its own paid search campaigns.   It could be that “silver chains” is attracting people who are looking for silver purse chains, silver chains for their fence, as well as those people who are looking to buy a necklace. Instead of adding “buy silver chains” as a negative, consider adding negatives such as “purse chains”, and “fence chains.” This allows your company’s ads to continue to show for searches like “silver chains”, but at the same time it excludes certain purse and fence chain terms from triggering your ads.

Negative keywords should always be a positive and not a negative to paid search campaigns. It’s good to add negative keywords, but don’t go overboard. If negative keywords are keeping your ads from showing for relevant searches, then it’s time to make some adjustments.

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