As the owner of a Google Partner marketing agency, my digital team has taught me to love and embrace the negative … keywords, that is.
By now, many smart business leaders are familiar with keywords and search engine optimization or SEO. But not many are aware of negative keywords. What are they, and why do they matter?
Keywords vs. negative keywords
Keywords are words or phrases that are relevant to your business. They are words that people use when searching for your product and/or service on the Internet. When marketers identify the relevant keywords that are used most often in online searches, they strategically add them to your website and online advertising campaign. That way your website will show up in search results.
Negative keywords are words or phrases that get added to your campaign to prevent your online ads from showing up on the search results page when a search is not relevant to you. Negative keywords are like bouncers: They help filter out who will see your ads and who won’t, depending on what people are searching.
The benefits of being negative
There are many ways you can use negative keywords to help improve your campaign performance.
1. Add names of products or services you do not offer.
2. Add terms or adjectives that don’t describe your product well. For example, if your company focuses on quality more than competitive pricing, you might include “cheap” or “discount” as a negative keyword. Therefore, if someone searches for “cheap” your ads will not display.
3. Add negative keywords that don’t apply directly to the goal of your advertising campaign. By adding terms such as “job,” you prevent your ads from displaying when someone searches for a job in your industry.
4. Use negative keywords to help ensure your most relevant ads display for the right search terms. For example, you might have multiple ad groups promoting different products. When people click an ad, they go to that specific web page on your website. Therefore, it would be a good precaution to add negative keywords that would describe alternative products you offer to lead people to the right part of your website.
5. Use negative keywords to filter out pop-culture references. Sometimes, you might have a keyword that is the title of a popular movie or song. It’s important to add negative keywords that prevent your ad from displaying for popular, but irrelevant, searches.
The more negative, the better
It is a good practice to add more negative keywords to better optimize your campaign over time. Many search advertising platforms such as Google AdWords have a report where you can see the actual search terms people are using to find your ads. When viewing this report, you may find that some search terms people have used are not at all relevant. It would be a good idea to add those terms as negative keywords.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 26-year-old brand development, strategic and online marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.