Removing Negative Keywords to Boost PPC Conversion

As pay-per-click (PPC) advertising builds in popularity, prices have likely gone up for top-converting keywords in your sector. Maximize conversions by taking the time to cut "negative keywords" out of your campaigns. "Negative keywords" are "unrelated search terms that mistakenly trigger your ad," writes Adotas. If your site specializes in cowboy hats, you don't want to pay for visits from people seeking info on the Dallas Cowboys football team. Adding "football team" to your "negative keywords" list in AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing or MSN AdCenter ensures your ads don't appear in an irrelevant search. A Few Differences Between PPC Vendors. AdWords, Yahoo and MSN AdCenter let you filter negative keywords out, but each does it differently. On MSN, you can create a different list of negative keywords at the keyword or campaign level. In contrast, adding negative keywords on Yahoo excludes them from your entire account. AdWords lets you terrace keywords out based on "ad groups" — keywords related by a common subject or theme. Here are tips for filtering negative keywords out: 1. Prepare a list of negative keywords off the top of your head. (You could also turn this into a marketing team exercise.) Consider sports teams that share your product name, brands you don't carry, or celebrity names. An adoption service, for example, might consider filtering out "Angelina Jolie" — unless it happens to yield perversely good conversions. If you're a formal shoe retailer, you might filter out words like "crocs," "sandals" or "ballet." 2. Check reports. From your pay-per-click dashboard, organize keyword reports by bounce rate. (The bounce rate tells you how quickly a visitor leaves your site.) Check keywords that yield high bounce rates. Chances are:
  • The page your visitor hits is irrelevant, in which case you should alter the link, preferably to a product page. (For example: a user searching "Cole Haan emerson shoe" should find herself at a page like this, versus a homepage.)
  • The page your visitor hits no longer exists.
  • The visitor was seeking something your site does not offer. Here, you've probably got a negative keyword
. If you track site traffic on Google Analytics, check out the "Visitors" tab and see what search visitors most commonly sought. This section can be a goldmine for negative keywords. 4. Check server log files. Your web server keeps a list of referring URLs, which sometimes show what search terms brought a user to your site. 5. Dig around for synonyms or acronyms. Acronym Finder might help you pinpoint words you don't want associated with your product. And Google's Keyword Tool generates potential queries that might trigger your sponsored search ad. 6. Test your negative keywords. Don't just roll them all out at once! Getting elimination-happy can decrease overall conversions. Make sure you only get rid of terms that negatively impact your conversion:ad-spend ratio. 7. Don't form prejudices against irrelevant keywords that do convert. Oddly enough, sometimes a cheap, unrelated search term converts users just as well as an expensive and relevant one. Watch for those rare gifts, but check back often to make sure they don't begin to impact you negatively. 8. Keep your list updated. Check at least once a month to ensure that removing negative keywords has positively impacted your conversion rate. As time goes on, you may also find new keywords to add to the list. And don't forget to review your negative keyword list every time you expand your product or service line. You don't want to block traffic that was irrelevant yesterday but relevant today. This MarketingVOX How-To was compiled with assistance from interactive ad site Adotas. For more information on using negative keywords to improve conversion, visit Google's tutorial. Yahoo also explained excluded keywords on its blog, which are synonymous with negative keywords. Finally, the MSN blog covered negative keywords for AdCenter.

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