Archive for February, 2010

Negative Keywords (Hidden Costs of Google Adwords – Post #2)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Negative keywords. What is this – alphabetic algebra? Not quite, but it does involve subtracting keywords out of your Google Adwords (or other pay per click) campaign. Why would you want to subtract keywords? Because it could save you a lot of money. That’s why.

Using negative keywords is an integral part of running a successful Adwords campaign. In my last post, I gave an introduction on the hidden costs of Google Adwords and discussed the importance of keyword matching. Today we’re taking keyword matching one step further with negative keywords.

Let me give an example of why you should be using negative keywords in your campaigns. (If you would like a formal definition of negative keywords, Google Adwords help section explains them).

Let’s say you sell a line of razors. Some of your razors are electric. So you use the keyword ‘electric razors’. Sounds reasonable, but what if someone is searching for an electric blanket? You still are using one of those keywords, ‘electric’, in your campaign.

In order to ensure your ad does not pop up when someone searches for ‘electric blanket’, you need to use ‘blanket’ as a negative keyword. In the below example, RotoShave, needs to incorporate the use of negative keywords into their campaign.


You’re probably wondering why not using negative keywords would cost you money, because if someone is searching for blankets, why would they click on ‘razors’, anyway? Good point, but there’s several reasons, the least likely reason being an accidental click and the more likely reason being that people misread ads. A much bigger reason, and a very hidden cost, is that having your ad appear in irrelevant search results causes your click through rate to decrease, which in turn, causes your cost-per-click to rise.

If you want to calculate how much money you’re wasting by not incorporating negative keywords, the good people from came up with this nifty Google Adwords Tax Calculator.

So how do you determine which negative keywords to use in your campaign? Do some research and a lot of thinking. Look at your analytics, for starters, to see which keywords are bringing people to your site, and which keywords you are paying for. Here is an excellent blog post on negative keyword research.

There are also some tools out there, like Wordstream’s negative keyword tool, which offers a free trial. If you know of any other tools, please post them for others in the comments.

Let’s face it – Google exists by taking your money, so you should be proactive in making sure they take as little as possible :-)