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Why Negative Keywords Are The Most Rock & Roll Part Of Your Google Ads Account

Welcome back, digital marketing disciple.

Imagine that your Google Ads account is a world-famous legendary rock band (trust me, as crazy as this analogy already sounds it does make sense). On lead vocals is your Ad Copy, taking centre stage and singing your brands' message to the masses. On the electric guitar, we have your Keywords, testing and experimenting with new licks and riffs to see which work best with your audience. Next up, on the drums we have your campaign Budget, laying down the rhythm of each song on the setlist. And completing the lineup, on bass guitar we have your Account Structure, acting as the glue that keeps everyone playing together at the right tempo.

From the title of this article, it's obvious that we have missed one of the most important members of the band. A member whos mastery happens behind the scenes, working hard to make sure that the tour bus stops at the right destinations, the right crowd turns up to each gig and to make sure that the band are not wasting money left right and centre. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you your rock and roll PPC account tour manager - Negative Keywords.

The tour manager (Negative Keywords) will most likely always be an underrated member of the band, one that barely features in the public eye and is sometimes forgotten about completely, but the time has come to realise the importance of them and appreciate their role within your Google Ads rock tour.

Making Sure The Band Doesn't Party Too Hard

With a month's worth of gigs lined up for the band, the tour manager would need to make sure that they don't waste their money on being too rock and roll and budget accordingly with the spending on the tour being used in the best ways possible, and this is exactly the same for your Google Ads account. Nothing is worse than getting halfway through the month to find out that you have run out of the budget that you had assigned for because your keywords were partying too hard.

Correctly using negative keywords will help you reduce any unwanted spending, as they enable you to stop showing your adverts for any specific word/words within the users' search term. By doing this you can create a clean and clear negative keyword strategy for each campaign or ad group, only spending on search terms which fit your approach to help you keep the tour alive and your budget in check.

Playing To The Right Audience

As the tour manager, it is your responsibility to make sure that the right audience turns up for every gig you put on for the band. Imagine a heavy metal band walking out on stage to a room full of classical music lovers. It doesn't matter how well they played their instruments, or how great their songs are written, the people in the crowd would simply not enjoy it because it is not what they wanted to listen to.

However, when the band plays to the right audience, their confidence and crowd response will significantly improve, and this is exactly the same with your keywords when using the right negative keyword strategies. When your keywords are shown to the right audience, each keywords CTR (click-through rate) will greatly improve, which will help increase your Expected CTR (part of your Quality Score), resulting in a reduction in the amount of you have to spend per click (CPC) as Google will deem you, your keyword and your advert more relevant for each users search engine search than your competitors.

Choosing The Right Negative Keyword Strategy

There are lots of reasons why you would introduce negative keywords to your account, campaign or ad group, each providing a different way to reduce your outgoings and improve your CTR. Below shows a list of the main reasons why I introduce them to the Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing) accounts which I manage:

  • Unwanted Words & Phrases - The most obvious reason of the bunch has to be when a specific word or phrase is not relevant to the products or company which is being advertised, but one of our adverts is being delivered to the user. This doesn't help the user or the advertiser as neither support or relate to one another.

  • Overspending Words & Phrases - After running a campaign for a few weeks, it becomes apparent which words and phrases perform well and which don't. If these words are simply overspending or not generating clicks (harming the overall CTR) then I would consider adding these as negative keywords to the account, campaign or ad group.

  • The Google Shopping Search Term Funnel - I find that some searches triggering shopping adverts are a tad vague, and this can be fixed by tightening up the approach with negative keywords. I like to put all the search terms that we show for into a funnel, with each section of the funnel representing a stage further to the exact product description - the further down the funnel, the more exact the search is to the product. If the product is a 'Blue Nike 50ml Cycling Sports Bottle' and I found that users who include 'blue' within their searches go on to buy the item, then I could add all search terms as negative keywords which don't include 'blue' using a filter. Be cautious of this approach, and only use this one when you are 110% certain that it is the right move to make.

Don't Play The Same Song More Than Once If You Don't Need To

Like a band wouldn't want to play the same song over and over again, you wouldn't want to write the same negative keywords over and over again across your account. Time to take advantage of 'Negative Keyword Lists', which allow you to group and add various negative keywords to each campaign in one clean swoop.

Simply navigate to the 'Negative Keywords List' option in your Google Ads PPC account and start creating a list of negative keywords that you would never want any of your adverts to show for. Once you have this setup, select the campaigns which you would like to use this list. Moving forwards, remember to include any universal negative keywords into the list as opposed to adding it at campaign or ad group level, resulting in you boosting your account performance and personal productivity.

Time To Take The Band On Tour

Now that you have learnt a thing or two about negative keywords and how they can help improve your Google Ads account performance, I hope that you use all the hints and tips from this article to take your PPC account on the most rock and roll tour of all time.

If you are still a bit unsure on how to manage your Google Ads account, or how to use negative keywords, feel free to drop me a message at and I will be happy to work through these with you.

Ciao for now,

Ali Puglianini



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