Why keyword negatives are important

What are keyword negatives and why are they important? While many people design their campaigns in Google Adwords around positive keywords, keyword negatives play just as great a role in helping Google to determine the authenticity and validity of a given site. If a particular site chooses keywords that wrongly attract thousands of visitors, the analytics will reveal that those visitors landed on the page and then abruptly left. This poor conversion rate will reflect badly on the site’s rankings. It may be branded a “content farm” or simply an incompetently assembled site. However, if the site uses effective negative keywords, users that are not part of the ideal demographic will not visit the site. This will keep the rankings within the search engines high, and lead to better financial performance. So how does one create effective keyword negatives?

Google AdWords Campaigns vs. Ad Groups Usage

Google Adwords categorizes keywords differently based on whether they used as a “campaign” or “ad groups” keyword. These two levels have different levels of exposure and relevance. A keyword negative added to the campaign will affect all ads in all ad-groups; a keyword negative added to the ad-group will only affect the ads in that particular group. It’s very important that those who have Google Adwords accounts decide what level of exposure each keyword should have, and how it relates to the overall branding of the site. Campaign level negative keywords are generally riskier, but will lead to a much better quality of traffic if they are effectively deployed.

• The Meaning of Broad, Phrase, or Exact Keyword Match Types

In addition to the campaign and ad groups levels, Adwords allows users to choose how search engines should interpret the negative keyword. In other words, if the negative keyword is “red sauce pasta,” if a user enters “red sauce,” will that search term also be flagged? Broad matches mean that any variation on the term will be considered negative. Phrase means that the words must be in the basic order, although a word or two can be substituted in between the principal negative keywords. An exact means that only the exact term should be considered negative. Each type of restriction can be useful, depending on the specific business; there is no “one category fits all” approach for effective marketing.

• How to Choose the Appropriate Keyword Negatives

Users can create their negative keywords by using some of the tools that Google Adwords provides to them. Adwords has a feature where users can plug in terms and then receive a list of similar searches that are performed in conjunction with those keywords. As an example, an antiques lamp dealer may discover that “halogen,” “pull-chain,” and “old-fashioned bulb” are usually paired with “antique lamp.” Based on this information, this antiques lamp dealer may then create campaign level negative keywords such as “broken,” “dusty” or “cheap.” These negative keywords will prevent people who are seeking damaged or discounted goods from visiting his antique lamp website, while those people who are genuinely seeking a high quality article will click on the site.

However, the antiques lamp dealer should be careful about his choice of negative keywords. “Dusty” seems to have a negative connotation, but in some instances, it might be a descriptor for a particular kind of shade color or texture. If he places “dusty” into his broad-based campaign level negative keywords, he may lose a great deal of potentially profitable traffic. Of course, this problem can be solved by research. If the dealer determines that “dusty shade” is a desirable keyword, but “dusty lamp” is not, he can modify his negative keyword so that it is an exact match only to “dusty,” or “dusty lamp,” instead of a broad or phrase match.

The best way for users to create effective negative keywords is to do some low-level experimentation with ad group level keywords. Because these keywords will only affect individual ads and click through rates, users can more precisely pinpoint what kind of users they are attracting. Thanks to the power of Google Analytics, they will be able to track the effectiveness of individual ads. By deploying the correct negatives, they will begin to see a dramatic increase in overall website performance in terms of visitor conversion.

• The Benefit of Higher Rankings on Quality Score and Decreased CPC Cost

By experimenting with negative keywords, those who run Adwords campaigns will immediately notice a decrease in their “cost per click” or CPC cost. Essentially, any time a visitor clicks on an ad, the runner of that ad is charged a flat fee per click. Understandably, limiting the number of clicks only to parties who will potentially buy the service or product instead of those who stumble across it mistakenly provides an extreme financial benefit.

As the number of appropriately channeled visitors to the site increases, the site’s ranking will correspondingly rise in the search engines. This is also quite financially lucrative in the long term due to what is known as “organic” search results. Of the two primary search result methods, paid and organic, organic search results are preferred by 75% of web searchers. In other words, once the site has built up a reputation as a trustworthy and authentic vendor, it will begin to “organically” appear in search listings. This will attract a higher amount of traffic without costing the webmaster any additional funds. Ultimately, negative keywords keep site traffic relevant.


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