How to research negatives and refine your PPC campaign

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Google Adwords offers a high degree of control over your advertising campaigns but occasionally some of the best features appear to be “hidden” from the main interface. As a search marketing consultant, I am often asked to analyse existing PPC accounts that clients feel are under-performing. Invariably I come across one of two scenarios:

1. long lists of keywords that are all set to exact match

2. lists of relevant keywords all set to phrasal match

With the first scenario, loads of traffic is lost as it is next to impossible to predict or research all possible combinations of keywords that will bring traffic to your site. With the second there is a high degree of wasted clicks. For example if you are a freelance and you offer “search marketing consultancy” then it makes perfect sense to use this term in one of your campaigns so you set it live and start to receive several job applications.

Analysis of your keywords will tell you that you are getting traffic on “search marketing consultancy jobs” – oops you might as well be using your cash to light the BBQ. So what do you need to do? Hint: it isn’t to have a knee jerk reaction and set everything to exact match.

That’s it we need to add some negative keywords. This used to be a lot easier in the old online interface (or maybe that’s nostalgia) and is definitely easiest in the desktop interface know as Adwords Editor (which I recommend downloading). Whichever method you are using navigate your way to negative keywords where you will have the choice of adding Campaign or Ad Group negatives – the choice is yours depending on your objectives.

This post is really about researching the negatives so let’s look at some simple techniques:

1. during your keyword research phase use the “Keyword tool” (in the “Opportunities” tab) to find keywords relevant and irrelevant to your business. While building your list of keywords also build a list of negative keywords

2. once the campaign is live look at all keywords that bring you traffic and build a list of keyword negatives with the terms that are irrelevant to your business (click on the image below to see how to view the keywords that brought you traffic)

3. when Google throws up “Ideas” for your campaign – follow the link and again build a list of  keyword negatives and add them to your account.

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About Geoff

I run the digital marketing for the UK division of a global supplementary education provider. To find out what I'm up to join me on Google+

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