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Winning the Paid Search Game: Think negative for positive results!

Paid Search, also called PPC (pay-per-click) and SEM (search engine marketing), is a crucial part of the marketing mix for most businesses. When done properly, it matches customers searching for goods or services with your business.

For those of us old enough to remember, it’s like buying a giant ad in the yellow pages vs. your free listing.

Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

Businesses can pour a lot of money into PPC to drive traffic and conversions. But without expertise and attention to detail, many of those clicks could be from people who aren't even interested in your business.


That's where negative keyword targeting steps in, it's an effective solution to reduce wasted clicks and maximize return on investment (ROI).

How can a negative be a positive?

Negative keyword targeting is a technique used in paid search advertising to exclude specific keywords (negative keywords) from triggering an ad. By carefully selecting those negative keywords, advertisers can refine their targeting, ensuring their ads are displayed only to the most relevant audience.

This strategic approach helps filter out irrelevant or low-intent searches, minimizing wasted ad spend and improving overall campaign performance.


Here’s how it works:


Eliminating irrelevant traffic:


Imagine you run an online shoe store specializing in luxury footwear. While bidding on broad keywords like "shoes" or "footwear" may attract a wide range of searchers, many of them might be looking for inexpensive or casual shoe options.


When you implement negative keyword targeting, you can exclude terms like "cheap," "discount," or "casual" from triggering your ads. This way, you ensure that your ads are only shown to users who are more likely to purchase luxury shoes, saving your budget from irrelevant clicks.


Filtering out non-commercial intent:


If you run an e-commerce store selling outdoor camping gear, you may want to exclude keywords like "free camping gear," "DIY camping gear," or "homemade camping gear." These searches are likely from individuals seeking free resources or looking for do-it-yourself solutions, rather than potential customers ready to make a purchase.


When you use negative keywords to eliminate non-commercial intent searches, you can focus your budget on reaching people who are actively seeking to buy camping gear, improving your conversion rates and ROI.


Benefits of negative keyword targeting:

  1. Enhanced relevancy: Excluding irrelevant keywords helps you refine your target audience, ensuring that your ads are displayed to users actively seeking what you offer. This improves the overall relevancy of your ads, leading to higher click-through rates and conversion rates.

  2. Cost savings: Negative keyword targeting reduces wasted ad spend by filtering out clicks from users unlikely to convert.This allows you to focus your budget on more qualified leads and allocate your resources more effectively to achieve a higher ROI.

  3. Improved ad performance: You can fine-tune your campaign's performance metrics when you exclude irrelevant searches. This leads to higher click-through rates, improved quality scores, and ultimately, better ad positions.


Negative keyword targeting is crucial to consider when initially planning your campaign. It's also something that has to be monitored and updated continuously. It’s a bit like whack-a-mole; when you have refined all the keywords you could think of, another irrelevant keyword pops up.


Our certified Google Ad Experts use negative keywords to optimize our campaigns frequently as part of our PPC management services.


If you're thinking about adding PPC to your marketing mix, reach out! We would be happy to provide you with an estimate for your business.


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