How to do Negative Keyword Research for PPC Advertising
Whether you're an ecommerce paid search expert or a newbie to PPC advertising, learning how to do negative keyword research can help minimize unwanted clicks while maximizing return on ad spend (ROAS).
For ecommerce PPC advertising, adding a few negative keywords can drastically improve a campaign's efficiency. Because ecommerce PPC campaigns are often composed of tons of ad groups spread out over hundreds of products and categories, small discoveries can have a momentous impact.
In this article, I will share with you some insightful tips to do negative keyword research and how make your paid search expenditure more cost-effective.
Negative Keyword Research via AdWords
Negative keyword research is just as critical as the initial keyword research that starts the campaign. For product keywords, pinpointing negative keywords is key to ensure ad spend is invested in the right variations.
Adding negative keywords to your AdWords campaigns and ad groups tells Google which keyword variations you do not want triggering your ads. For example, if you sell 'mens swimming goggles,' you may want to add the negative keywords 'free' or 'reviews' to ensure your ads are not triggered under searches for "free mens swimming goggles" or "mens swimming goggles reviews."
If you are using broad, modified-broad, or phrase match keyword bidding, you'll need to determine which keyword variations are causing unwanted impressions and clicks. To do this, click the "Dimensions" tab in the AdWords interface (while in a certain campaign or ad group.)
In the filter option under the Dimensions tab, select "Search Terms." Here you'll see a list of the keyword phrases that have triggered your ads over given period of time (which is can be adjusted in the top right of the AdWords interface.)
This keyword data can be extremely enlightening, and often times shocking. The shock is primarily due to Google's definition of "broad match" - leading many PPC advertisers to use only exact phrase match or modified broad match. Once you've found unwanted keyword variations under the Search Terms option, you can add these keywords as negatives, under the "Keywords" tab. The negative keyword list is located at the bottom of the Keywords tab, underneath the actual keyword list.
You can add negative keywords on ad group or campaign basis. One of the best ways to add negative keywords appropriately is to implement the unwanted variations as a phrase or exact match. So if we wanted to eliminate all variations surrounding "free," we'd simply add the word free in quotes. This way, any keyword phrase that is searched with the word free would not trigger our ad.
After doing some negative keyword research, you may come to find out that broad match bidding is too ambiguous (and thus costly) for your ecommerce PPC efforts. Because broad match semantics are often extremely broad according to Google, you may want to pursue more precise bidding techniques.
Negative Keyword Research via Google Search
Another way to pinpoint unwanted keyword variations is through Google Search, specifically Google's suggested search or 'autocomplete' feature. As you go to type any keyword query, Google provides more specific recommendations based on popular search trends. These suggestions can offer insights as to which keywords you'll want to add to your campaign's negative keyword list.
For example, the suggested long-tail keywords that Google offers above gives us a good negative keyword insight. Perhaps we don't sell "swimming goggles with nose cover." We will then want to add "nose cover" to our negative keyword list for that particular ad group or campaign. Negative keyword research is something that you can do on regular basis. Just be certain that you're not eliminating keywords that might offer good traffic.