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Samantha Noble

How Negative Keywords Can Make Your PPC Budget Go Further

12th Mar 2010 Paid Search 2 minutes to read


Negative keywords play a vital part in the refinement of any Pay per Click (PPC) campaign. By identifying these irrelevant phrases and removing them from your advertising, you will lower the number of times ads appear for unrelated searches, helping to lower Cost per Click (CPC) and make that budget go further.

When you come to create a PPC campaign [See: What is PPC Advertising] impetuousness can cost money. It isn’t simply a case of identifying a few keywords that you want to appear for, writing a bit of ad text, turning on broad match and away you go. You have to be prepared to go deeper.

Broad match isn’t without its dangers, as discussed in my earlier post – The Danger of Broad Match in PPC Advertising. Whilst it gets you seen by a wider audience, it can also make a significant dent in your online budget. Effective Pay per Click advertising comes from controlled targeting of campaigns, not blanket exposure.

A negative keyword is essentially any search term your ad has been appearing for that has no relevance to your landing page [See: What Are Negative Keywords?]. By combining the statistical data that you receive back from Google Analytics and AdWords (or equivalent sites), you will quickly be able to spot a number of irrelevant searches. Once identified, mark the offending words as negative keywords. This will ensure that you no longer appear for this phrase.

This is an ongoing process though. The most effectively managed PPC campaigns can have thousands of negative keywords once they have fully matured. Of course prevention is always better than a cure, but in many cases the obscurity of negative keywords makes them hard to predict. The key though is to identify them quickly and ensure that you don’t appear for these phrases in future.

So how does this help to make your budget go further? Well, every time your advert appears on a search page this counts as an impression. The more impressions your ad gains without getting a click, the less relevant it appears to the search engines. This is measured using a Click through Rate (CTR). The lower your CTR percentage is, the more you might be asked to pay for each click [For more ways to improve CTR see: Five Ways to Increase Your Click Through Rate].

By ensuring that your site is only appearing for relevant search results, you stand a better chance of improving your CTR. This in turn can benefit your Cost per Click, which could mean that you pay less for future clicks.

Bringing it back to negative keywords and irrelevant searches; whenever you are shown on a search result page that bears no relation to your site, you also stand a chance of curious types clicking on it. Due to the irrelevance of your site to their search, it is unlikely they will stay long, let alone convert. This now doesn’t impact your CTR, but the budget itself.

You will get charged a certain amount for every click your ad campaign garners, regardless of relevance. Therefore, if you are appearing for a multitude of bizarre terms, you stand a good chance of throwing your budget away.

If you want your adverts to appear when and where they are supposed to, you need to ensure they are targeted. There are many ways to ensure this happens, not least identifying keywords. You could be throwing money away through irrelevant clicks and inflated bid prices (caused by your low CTR). So don’t waste your budget, identify your negative keywords early.

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Samantha Noble
About the author

Samantha Noble

Sam is a talented multi-tasker, a dedicated mother to the gorgeous Theo and a big fan of cooking – word on the street is that she’s pretty good in the kitchen but we’re yet to know if this is true or not. Hint hint, we like cake, Sam.

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