Three Tips on Managing Negative Keywords for Clients

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you need help managing negative keywords for clients? Marketers face a huge challenge when they use paid search as part of their advertising mix. It’s true that they can precisely target their audiences when they get SEM right. And negative keywords are a critically important part of SEM campaigns.

The Value of Negative Keywords

With a good keyword list, search engines try to match the terms consumers use for their online searches. The better the list, the more clicks and conversions your clients get. A good keyword list helps your clients keep their costs down.

Search engines will also return better results when marketers specify which terms they don’t want to pay for. Let’s say that your client, Barry’s Bowling Alley, uses bowling as a keyword. When consumers search for bowling shoes, your client’s ads will appear in the search engine results page. If a local store, Sam’s Shoes, uses the same keyword to sell bowling shoes, consumers will also see Sam’s Shoes ads in their search results. Consumers might click on the ad for Barry’s Bowling Alley, thinking your client sells bowling shoes. Ultimately, they’ll go to Sam’s Shoes to buy their bowling footwear. And your client will pay for the ad because the consumer clicked on it. 

The way to avoid this outcome is to use the right negative keywords. In our example, you should add bowling shoes to the negative keyword list. Your client’s ads won’t appear in the results list when consumers search for bowling shoes and their costs will be kept down.

Managing Negative Keywords for Clients

Some marketers might be tempted to set a negative keyword list with a search engine service provider and then forget about it. The problem with that strategy is that the marketplace changes over time. How do you know when it’s time to review the list of negative keywords? If your client is getting plenty of clicks and impressions but not so many conversions, you should check out their negative keyword list.

As the online ecosystem continues to expand, more marketers will be competing for the same keywords. That competition drives up price. Industry experts suggest you use the Keyword Planner in Google regularly to find businesses that compete with your client. While you always want to maximize the number of impressions, i.e. the number of consumers who see your client’s ads, you also want to be strategic in order to optimize ROI. Your client’s negative keyword list should include the names of competitors in the local marketplace. When you add those names to the list, make sure to get the spelling exactly right. And remember to review the list on a monthly basis as competitors go out of business while new ones start up.

Keeping Up with Google’s Changes

Eliot Shiner recently alerted search engine marketers about Google’s latest strategy change. Because of updates made to their search algorithms, when you review your client's search query report, you’ll only see keywords that have been “searched by a significant number of users.” What does this mean? Basically, when you review your client’s search term data, you won’t get a full picture of what’s working and not working. This change also makes it difficult to control ad campaign costs efficiently. One way to improve outcomes is the regularly update your client’s negative keyword list.

As you help your clients navigate the complex world of search engine marketing, stay current on how consumers use search. The AudienceSCAN profiles at AdMall by SalesFuel has the information you need.