Adding negative keywords to any pay-per-click (PPC) campaign is a necessary ingredient for success. You must be able to eliminate irrelevant traffic in order to get better quality visitors and spend your budget more effectively. For the most part, negative keywords can be added at the campaign level, but to really get to the next level of targeting you must also exclude at the ad group level.
Adding a negative keyword at the campaign level affects the visibility of all the ads in that campaign. For example, say you make the broad match of the term “definition” a campaign negative keyword. Every time a user searches for one of your purchased keywords with this additional term appended, your ad will not show up. Many negative keywords work at the campaign level because they are completely irrelevant and will only bring unqualified visitors to your site (see this great list of negative keywords). However, you will find negative keywords that only need to be added to certain ad groups.
As an example, let’s use a campaign targeted around sandals for summer. Within this Summer Sandals campaign I have four ad groups with these keywords (I am bidding on all of these keywords in phrase and exact match):
Men’s Summer Sandals
men’s summer sandals
summer sandals for men
Women’s Summer Sandals
women’s summer sandals
summer sandals for women
Kids Summer Sandals
kids summer sandals
summer sandals for kids
The Summer Sandals ad group is for users who simply search for this term and variations of it without specifying a gender or age. For this reason I write this ad:
My ad appeals to a much wider audience while still getting my message across. On the flip side, searches for “men’s summer sandals” will produce an ad specific to men’s sandals. However, herein lies the problem. Since I am bidding on the phrase match of “summer sandals,” my generic ad has the potential to show for a search for “men’s summer sandals.” Though I am not bidding on the same keyword in two different ad groups, one of my keywords (summer sandals) is part of my other keyword (men’s summer sandals). Google says the most relevant ad will be served based on the search; however, this is not always the case as any PPC specialist will tell you.
The solution is to add “men’s” as a negative keyword in the Summer Sandals ad group. By making this term a negative keyword my men’s summer sandals ad will be guaranteed to show upon this gender specific search. The same goes for “women’s” and “kid’s” as adding these negative keywords to only the Summer Sandals ad group will better target my ads.
Negative keywords are not always irrelevant terms. They can be used strategically to ensure that users see the most relevant ad for particular searches.