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How To Save Money On PPC Campaigns – Using Negative Keywords

By James Warwick, 11 January 2021

google ads consultant in portsmouth james warwick
Read time: 12 minutes
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If not executed effectively, PPC Campaigns can cost you a lot of money without generating a lot of return.

In this blog post, I want to teach you about one of the main activities you NEED to be doing to ensure you’re getting the most out of your money over the campaigns duration!

What Are Negative Keywords?

It’s one thing creating a list of keywords you think will be profitable for your campaign but have you thought about the related keywords people will be searching that aren’t relevant to your Ad?

For example, if you sell shoes, you wouldn’t want someone searching ‘Shoes for dogs’ seeing or clicking on your Ad. So, you would simply add ‘dogs’ as a negative keyword and then anyone searching with the word ‘dogs’ would not be shown your Ad.

Using negative keywords allows you to make sure your Ad is being shown to the correct people and it is a continuous process just like keyword expansion.

It’s important to continue to simultaneously work on adding both keywords & negative keywords for your PPC Campaign, remembering your goal is to make sure each click is from someone who is searching relevant keywords.

Many campaigns waste a lot of money on useless clicks. This way you can make sure your Google Ads Campaign is only being clicked by those who are searching with relevant queries.

TOP TIP: Make sure you don’t start adding in keywords because they haven’t converted for your account in recent times. You need to look at your data over a period of time to assess whether a keyword is viable or not.

3 Reasons To Why Should You Use Negative Keywords?

1.Better Click-Through/Conversion Rate — If you are showing your ads to only relevant searches then you are far more likely to be getting a much higher volume of people clicking on your ads rather than people who are looking for something different. This will also increase your conversion rate.

2.Stronger Ad Groups — The key to any successful PPC campaign is to have highly relevant ads. This means your whole campaign structure needs to follow this rule. Creating ad groups with closely related keywords and adding negatives to make sure you reaching the best audience. For example, have one ad group for Red Shoes with [Blue Shoes] as a negative and another ad group for Blue Shoes with [Red Shoes] as a negative.

3.Spend Less — Using the tips in this blog post you will be able to stop paying for useless clicks from irrelevant searches. And as mentioned above you can also avoid bidding against yourself, cannibalising your data.

Negative Keyword Match Types

Remember the different match types you use for keywords you actually bid on? Well, you can do the same with negative keywords and it is just as important.

These can be assigned at the account, campaign, or ad group level in the same format, broad, “phrase”, and [exact].

Understanding how these match types work is a vital part of campaign management enabling you to maximize the value from your negative keyword lists in your PPC campaigns.

To make it easier for you to see the difference between the match types and how to use them I’ve made a table for each one which should be able to illustrate the differences clearly.

Broad Match

Phrase Match

Exact Match

How To Add Negative Keywords To Your Google Ads Campaign?

Now there are a variety of ways in which you can add negative keywords to your Google Ads Campaign and you might want to use a different way depending on your situation. In this blog, I will teach you the most useful and probably best practices for an effective negative keyword strategy.

What you’ll want to do is create Negative Keyword Lists. You will be able to add the same Negative Keyword List to multiple campaigns so doing it this way will allow for the most effectiveness and flexibility.

Firstly, navigate to the top of the Google Ads dashboard a click on ‘Tools & Settings’. This will open up a drop-down menu. Within this menu you need to find the column titled ‘Shared Library’ and it’s here where you can find ‘Negative Keyword Lists’, as highlighted in the image below.

Now you can add all the negative keywords you want to, remembering to use the correct symbols for each match type. Broad Match, “Phrase Match” and [Exact Match]. Be sure to name your list something relevant and useful. Perhaps the name of the Campaign.

Congratulations, you have successfully created a Negative Keyword List. To add it to the campaign simply tick the Negative Keyword Lists you want to apply and click ‘Apply to campaigns’. Select the campaigns you want to the list to apply to and confirm. Your Negative Keyword List will now be active in those campaigns.

Lastly, a really important and useful process to stay on top of your negative keywords is to be looking at Search Terms. This screen can be found by clicking on the Keywords header back at the main Google Ads dashboard. You can view search terms on a campaign level or ad group level.

What this page shows you are the search terms people are using to find your ads. This invaluable as it shows you which keywords are working and profitable and which words are wasting budget.

For those keywords which seem irrelevant, you can simply select them and add them to a negative keyword list that you created earlier. Remembering to use the appropriate match type to be most effective.

I would suggest doing this process as regularly as possible to ensure you are missing any pointless keywords which can be wasting your budget.

Be sure to check through your Negative Keyword List now and then too because it can be all too easy to accidentally add a negative keyword which stops your add being shown to large parts of your target audience.

To remove negative keywords, simply go back to your Negative Keyword List, select the keywords you want to remove, and select remove.

This is a continuous journey so be sure to keep researching both keywords and negative keywords to optimise your campaign performance.

Here To Help

I hope the above article has been useful to any business considering the benefits of PPC or Google Ads for their customer acquisition.

If there’s anything I’ve missed or if you have any questions, please get in touch and I’ll be delighted to assist. I can be reached on my direct email at james@proven-concept.com.

James joined Proven Concept in 2019 following a successful period as a trained journalist with the BBC and a marketer with The Goodwood Festival. His previous experience has equipped him with industry-leading creative and copywriting skills which sets him apart in managing effective and profitable client accounts. A self-confessed weather geek, James also created and manages a social media brand @UKWeatherLive, actively updating and engaging 15k followers online.

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