Twenty eleven brought us some strange, sometimes shocking, usually funny search queries. The whole Hanapin office had a great time mining our reports to bring you these gems. We had some great WTQ post tributes to icons such as Justin Beiber, J.T., and Wayne & Garth during 2011; but for this month’s What the Query, I wanted to bring you a list of our top 15 search queries from 2011, in no particular order, as well as a list of some negative keyword best practices to help you keep out some of this irrelevant (though hilarious) traffic!

15.) list of dirty things

14.) cocaine use and aortic dissection

13.) my past online

12.) champaign flutes as seen on general hospital 12 22

11.) God hates us all

10.) Call someone with robot voice

9.) squirrel adoption center

8.) atomic bomb gift ideas

7.) baby’s first tattoo book

6.) a british fasion designer created a dress from 3000 cow and yak nipples

5.) what do you think bout my love life

4.) can nn16 year old nn20 year old get married south Carolina

3.) 60th birthday panties

2.) when would it be a bad idea to have them removed

1.) im sexy and i know it

Negative Keyword Tips

Running SQRs is a good way to weed out unwanted traffic, but think about it: if you wait for the SQR, you’ve either: a.) gotten built up, unwanted impressions, which will lower CTR and ultimately reduce Quality Score, or b.) people have clicked through your ads but haven’t converted because they weren’t the right, target audience. So why wait?

My first tip is to be proactive: as you’re doing keyword research with the available keyword tools, mine the lists to find negatives before you waste impressions or clicks and money on unwanted, unqualified traffic.

Streamline your process: utilize negative keyword lists! Even thought these have been out since this time last year, I just recently got into using them and man, I wish I would have done so sooner! If you haven’t tried them out yet, check out Jessica’s how-to post to set up your own lists!

Don’t be afraid: when I first started in PPC, I remember my supervisor saying that she once added in the exact match negative keyword [ebook] for a publishing client. I remember feeling appalled inside, thinking she had to be excluding important traffic. I thought to myself, “But, those people could be interested in the services our client is offering.” However, she’d been on this account much longer than I had, and even if you’re hesitant to exclude something, you have to let the data speak for itself. She spent time evaluating SQRs and saw that the conversions just weren’t coming from people searching only for the term ebook – so she added it as a negative and saved the client quite a bit of money.

Use negative keywords in Search AND Display campaigns: most of the accounts I work on rely heavily on Display Network traffic, so this is a really important tip for me to follow. Since you can’t see keyword-level data for Display Network campaigns, it can be easy to forget to add negative keywords! However, if you do so, your ads will be less likely to show on sites concerning topics related to your negative keywords.

What negative keyword strategies have you tried? Which ones have worked well and which haven’t?