How to Reduce Unwanted Clicks and Impressions by Using Negative Keywords

Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]

Overview

Once a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign kicks off, the online advertising becomes less about drawing more traffic to your website and more about identifying and capturing high value visitors. When you start off, it won’t take long before you notice that your conversion rates are unusually low when compared to the industry average. 

The reason is likely to be that a substantial proportion of the people visiting your site either didn’t intend to or weren’t really interested in what you have to offer. That sometimes comes down to your PPC ad appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs) for the wrong keyword string, otherwise referred to as negative keywords.

Why You Need to Block Negative Keywords

While PPC campaigns devote plenty of time toward identifying the most relevant keywords for your website to rank for, you cannot really create a well-refined PPC campaign if you do not actively manage the impact of negative keywords. Getting clicks from keywords you cannot convert on is a drain on your PPC budget (since you do have to pay for every click). Defining negative keywords is therefore almost as important as choosing the keywords you want to rank on. 

“By listing negative keywords in your Google Ads PPC campaign, you will stop your ads from appearing in SERPs for unrelated phrases.”

Michael Jenkins

Reducing these unwanted impressions will improve your ad’s click-through-rate (CTR), improve your ads quality score and eventually lower the price you pay per click. So, if you, for example, sell an assortment of men’s jackets but do not stock denim jackets, then you could add ‘denim’ as a negative keyword. That way your ads won’t appear in SERPs for the search phrase ‘denim jackets’.

Identifying Negative Keywords

While it’s impossible to come up with a list of all the negative keywords for your website, you should strive to identify the ones that are likely to generate the most unconvertible traffic. There are several ways you can do that but we’ll look at a few.

Keyword Research

While conducting the preliminary keyword research for your ad campaign using Google Keyword Planner, you’ll be presented with suggested phrases that, according to Google, are related to the terms you’ve chosen to bid on. Of these, there are some that will be obviously irrelevant to you. These should be the first terms you add to your list of negative keywords since Google has already demonstrated that it considers them similar to the terms you chose. 

If you are selling luxury designer handbags, then you probably don’t want your web pages appearing in queries for ‘cheap designer handbags’ as people looking for these are unlikely to be willing to pay the premium price associated with genuine luxury handbags.

Analyze Query Reports

Once your ads have been running for weeks or months, and you have received a sizeable number of clicks and impressions, you can run a query report to see what were the most common queries users typed to get SERPs that contain your ad. 

If you see, especially higher up the ranks, any queries that are unrelated to or inconsistent with your advertising intent, you can add them to your list of negative terms to block your ads from showing up for the phrases again.

Google Search

Run each of the keywords you are bidding on through Google search. You can identify potential negative keywords in two ways. 

First, as you type the query, you’ll see a list of suggested queries. Within this list of suggestions, you’ll probably see phrases that have no relation to your ad. Second, run the query and take a look at the results. For each keyword, go through the first couple of pages and identify any result that is irrelevant to your product but still appears in the SERPs. Include any such keywords in your negative keyword list.

Brainstorming

You don’t have to wait for Google’s various tools to tell you which negative keywords will best help sharpen your ad campaign.

By taking the time to think about some of the terms that aren’t relevant, you could very well identify a number of terms that would be a distraction to your advertising efforts.

Imagine the products within your industry or marketspace that a Google user may type but that are highly unlikely to lead to a conversion in your favour.

Negative Keywords is Low Cost Optimization

Eliminating unwanted clicks and impressions from your PPC campaign is vital for your bottom line. Most efforts at optimizing your PPC ads will require that you spend money. Negative keywords on the other hand are a low cost tool for lowering costs while increasing revenues and ROI.

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