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.
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.”