A PPC Refresher Course: Fine Tune Your Campaigns with Negative Keywords

Two things happened today that dictated the content of this blog post. First of all, the AdWords blog posted this “Quick Tip” on using keyword match types on negative keywords. Good idea, but not enough info. And then secondly, I had a client call asking a question about Embedded Match (specifically negative Exact Match) that I was more than happy to answer. There’s nothing like a touch of December serendipity to get the creative juices flowing! Now that I’ve given you a bit of context, it’s time to embark on a negative keyword journey.

What are negative keywords? In a nutshell, negative keywords are a device for restricting your PPC ads from displaying for specific searches. Let’s say you’re bidding on the broad match keyword, tennis shoes. Let’s also say that you sell every type of tennis shoe but the red kind. You can use the negative keyword, red, to block searches. So your ads will display for blue tennis shoes, tennis shoes in a box – but NOT for red tennis shoes. Simple enough, right? Right. This same principle applies to MSN adCenter’s negative keyword function, and that of Yahoo! Search Marketing’s Excluded words.

But what if you want to get more specific with your negative keyword use? Google offers the ability to take a finer approach to negative keywords with Embedded Match. This functionality allows you to add Exact Match or Phrase Match keywords as negatives. I’ll use the “Toy Story” example from Google’s Learning Center. Hypothetically speaking, you are an advertiser who sells Toy Story products and Toy Story toys – but you don’t sell the movie, Toy Story. By adding the Exact Match negative keyword, Toy Story (-[toy story]), your ads will show for Toy Story products, Toy Story toys, but NOT Toy Story.

I know that negative keywords are nothing new, but these types of tips are always worth covering again. It’s a helpful reminder and refresher course. And if you aren’t using negative keywords yet, YOU SHOULD! Now you have no excuse.