Editor’s Note: This marketing infographic is part of our 25 part series.
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This post has been updated with new links and content.
Original Publication Date: December 2, 2016
Have you ever known someone who tried to lose weight… but it wasn’t working for them?
They may have thought they could eat whatever they want, as long as they worked out. As most of us have already discovered, however, staying consistent in the kitchen makes the biggest difference in the long run.
Like a weight loss plan that ignores diet, your PPC campaigns won’t work well if you only use positive keywords, no matter how great they are.
Your campaigns also need negative keywords to block out unwanted search results.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Acquisio to bring you the Negative Keywords Food Chain.
This game plan will help you use multiple layers of negative keywords for better PPC performance.
Why Negative Keywords are So Valuable
While the keywords you bid on help increase your chances of being seen as a search result, negative keywords help filter out unwanted clicks that won’t turn into conversions.
By adding them to your PPC account, negative keywords help you save money and can improve your PPC performance by easily increasing your click-through rates.
Sometimes it can be hard to think of all the negative keywords without some hints.
You can find those hints inside your Search Terms Report (STR) for your Google Ads or Microsoft Ads account.
Essentially the STR is going to tell you what search terms are associated with the different keywords you have for your ad groups. You can then see if some keywords and their match types are more or less likely to cause you unwanted clicks.
Now, we’ll break down the flow of the negative keywords food chain in detail so you can spend less time to get better PPC results.
Great White Shark – Universal Negative Keyword List
The negative keyword lists that are on the universal level are going to include negative keywords that are entirely unrelated to your ads, your campaigns, and basically the purpose of your company in general.
With any ad or campaign, you don’t want your keywords being triggered for search terms that don’t make any sense for what you’re offering.
By creating a universal negative keyword list in your Shared Library, you can apply any new negative keywords to all your campaigns at once.
To run through an actual example for you, I’m going to use Bass Pro Shops and a potential group of campaigns that they might run: different types of fishing rods.
Our Great White Shark, our big kahuna, is the first line of defense.
This shark is going to eat unwanted search results by feeding off of the universal level negative keyword list.
Common Universal Negative Keywords
- how to use
- what is
These words and phrases will exclude information-based searches, making your ads more likely to appear in searches with buying intent.
You can find a comprehensive generic universal level negative keyword list for your account towards the bottom of this post.
Similarly, terms like book, books, dvds, and gift/gifts, may not be a good fit for this particular universal negative keyword list. Bass Pro Shops does sell various literature and video materials in their “Home & Gifts” section and might want to reach those users as well.
Additionally, Bass Pro Shops might want to run an ad about the rods they have on sale, on clearance, or discounted rods as they’re getting in the next year’s models. In that case, a few of the terms that are relative to pricing may want to be pulled from this negative keyword list.
But because these negative keywords aren’t related to the standard fishing rod campaigns I’m talking about, we can place them in our negative keyword list and apply that list to exclude all campaigns.
Seal – Multi-Campaign Level Negative Keyword List
Negative keyword lists that are made on the multi-campaign level can and will apply to more than one campaign, but not all of them.
They can also be called general negative keyword lists, but they’re still a little too specific to apply to everything.
This is why they wouldn’t go on your universal level.
In addition to that, multi-campaign level negative keyword lists (breathe, that’s a long word) help you not exclude certain campaigns, like a broad match dedicated keyword campaign devoted to mining for new search terms to extract.
Anyway, back to Bass Pro Shops. If some of our campaigns are different types of fishing rods like casting rod, saltwater rod, species-specific rod, or a spinning rod, then we’d want to use other fishing gear and item terms as negative keywords on this list.
Our seal in this case is eating any competing search terms with words in them like:
This list can be applied to a number of campaigns, and specifically to the four different campaigns I’d run for each type of fishing rod.
You still don’t want different types of rods showing up than the one you’re running the campaign for, so you’d further individualize your campaigns to specific products, as seen on the next level.
Octopus – Individual Campaign Level Negative Keywords
The negative keywords for an individual campaign are implemented at this level.
The negative keywords used on this list signify the differences between two campaigns based on a similar product or service that still has different features.
Out of our fishing rod campaigns, let’s focus on the spinning rod for our individual campaign example.
To avoid other types of rods from competing between campaigns, we’ll add those terms to this individual campaign negative keyword list.
Our octopus will make sure to eat those search results for other types of rods, like:
- species specific
This next level is where things might get a little complicated. There are lots of differentiations of search terms to consider relative to your keywords. You’ll want to cancel them out by listing them as negative keywords at your ad group level.
But more importantly, ad group level negative keywords help you reduce internal competition.
And you do this by making sure your short tail keywords aren’t stealing impressions from your long tail keywords.
Crab – Ad Group Level Negative Keywords
The ad group level is as specific as it gets when tailoring your negative keywords.
We recommend taking a granulated approach to creating the ad groups by using SKAGs.
This means having an ad group with just one keyword, but more negative keywords that our crab will eat.
Also, try to include different match types (more on these below) in that ad group for the keyword also.
A Quick Note On SKAGs
Before we talk about their diet for our spinning rod campaign, I want to give some more background about Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs).
Even though they can be a pain to set up, SKAGs provide a huge advantage by giving you a search term to keyword ratio of 1:1.
Let’s say, for example, that someone searches for “spinning rod.” If one of the SKAGs for my spinning rod campaign is modified broad match, phrase match, or exact match for that search term, my spinning rod ad is going to be a result, and it won’t appear for other variations of keywords.
But we’re here to talk about ad group level negative keywords, so let’s get back to our crab again.
For our spinning rod campaign, we’ll want to have different ad groups for different brands of this certain style of rod.
The spinning rod I personally think sounds the most badass that Bass Pro Shops sells is the Fenwick Eagle Travel Spinning Rod.
And as badass as it is, we need to start with a root keyword ad group for the Fenwick Spinning Rod products.
From this, we can create first SKAG to be: “Spinning Rod”.
This is the root keyword ad group (as you can’t get any shorter tail with it).
Because we don’t want other brands of spinning rods that Bass Pro Shops carries showing up as results, we’ll want to make those brands ad group level negative keywords.
For this SKAG, our crab would eat other brands and the specific models. This means that we’ll have these ad group level negative keywords below:
List of Ad Group Level Negative Keywords
- Bass Pro Shops
- Abu Garcia
- G. Loomis
- Eagle Claw
- Browning Fishing
- Duckett Fishing
- St. Croix
- Temple Fork
- Eagle Travel
Note: The goal with this is to only show our ad to generic spinning rod searches. If someone searches for a specific spinning rod brand, then we’ll create a new SKAG.
Doing this also keeps other ads I’m running under the spinning rod campaign from appearing as a result even though they have “spinning rod” in them.
This targets buyers who might know the brand (Fenwick) they’re looking for in terms of a spinning rod, but maybe they forgot the model type or don’t know which model they want yet; they just know they like Fenwick spinning rods.
From there we’d create a second SKAG: “Fenwick Eagle Travel Spinning Rod”.
What’s great is that all the terms our octopus ate at the campaign level will still apply to this, but we can have our crab for this SKAG eat a variation of words from our first SKAG.
Tip: If you feel like you need some more insight to KlientBoost’s SKAG approach, click the link to check it out.
Clam – Negative Keyword Match Types
Last but not least, you want to make sure you know the difference between positive and negative keyword match types.
The only big difference here is that there are only three match types when it comes to negative keywords:
Note: Positive keywords have one more match type (broad match modifier).
For negative keywords, broad match negatives exclude the greatest amount of searches.
Then comes phrase match, and then exact match as the least-exclusive type of negative keyword.
Start Off Your Negative Keyword List With Some Help
Looking for negative keywords that you can already start excluding without paying for the click first? We compiled a thorough negative keyword list to help you out:
- act of
- case study
- case studies
- compact disc (CD)
- full time
- hand made/handmade
- how do i
- how to
- jump drive
- memory stick
- odd lots
- open source
- part time
- public domain
- stainless steel
- success stories
- success story
- usb flash drive
- what are
- what is
- white paper
- white papers
That’s a Lot of Food for One Day
With all the different types of negative keywords out there, it’s easy to get disorganized with all the different food chain connections.
You may figure out how to match up your keywords to your search terms and separate different products or services into ad groups, under a campaign — but now you have to worry about negative keywords.
Our other posts about SKAGs will help tie everything together, but implementing this food chain breakdown of negative keywords will do wonders for your conversion catch rates.