26 Must-Have Negative Keywords for B2B PPC Campaigns

Success in paid search (PPC) is often defined as generating quality clicks and conversions at the lowest possible cost. But just as often, a successful search campaign depends as much on avoiding bad clicks as it does on generating good ones. In fact, any experienced search marketer will tell you that many of the quickest ways to improve PPC campaign performance fall into the category of eliminating wasteful spending.

Conversion rates, for example, the rate at which clicks convert to leads (and a key metric for B2B campaigns), can be improved significantly by reducing the number of irrelevant clicks. Ad copy can be used to filter out unqualified traffic – for example, using the word “enterprise” to filter out small business professionals – but doing so can waste precious real estate that’s better dedicated to action-oriented copy that compels qualified prospects to click on your ad.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the ROI from your search budget is through the use of negative keywords. Negative keywords work like filters that prevent ads from showing when queries include keywords that you deem to be irrelevant, and they’re one of the most under-utilized tools for reducing wasteful PPC spending – dollars spent on clicks that don’t convert into qualified leads.

In Google, negative keywords can be deployed at the both the campaign and ad group level. At the campaign level, choose negative terms that are clearly irrelevant in any situation in which your ads could possibly be triggered (one obvious example being the word: “free”.) At the ad group level, use negative terms that are specific to that particular product group, industry, or landing page, but that might not apply across the entire campaign. (For example, “enterprise” might be a negative keyword for a small business ad group, but not for your product line as a whole.)

Below is a “starter list” of negative keywords drawn from the terms we most frequently use when we’re designing PPC campaigns for B2B clients. Actual client-specific lists can include hundreds of terms tailored to that client’s product line, industry, competition, functionality, even product name.

Have suggestions for other useful negative keywords? Feel free to contribute your favorites in the comments.

career
careers
job
jobs
job openings
job search
resume
CV
employment
work
position

freeware
shareware
free
bargain
cheap
inexpensive
clearance
download
open source
public domain

consumer
desktop
PC
Mac

For more tips on how to improve the success of your PPC campaign, download a copy of our free white paper: “Top 10 B2B Paid Search Mistakes: Why Your Google™ Campaign Isn’t Working and What to Do About It.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Howard. For PPC campaigns, I would definitely add ‘discount’ and ‘coupon’ to the negative keywords list. In addition, ‘trial’ is a word that you may want to avoid, unless of course you offer free trials of your software or product.

  2. Posted September 6, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Great list of negative keywords. I’ve had this bookmarked for over 2 years now and always refer back to it when setting up a new campaign.

    Negative keywords are crucial to a succesful campaign.

  3. Posted December 30, 2011 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Howard,
    Here are some to avoid DIYers

    craft
    crafts
    create
    creating
    hand made
    handmade

    Thanks for the list,
    Nik

  4. Posted October 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Good call!

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