I came across an article some time ago, where the writer provided a handful of negative keyword lists they used in every one of their PCC campaigns. I wish I could find that article so I could give the writer credit, but I can’t. That has been one of the most impactful articles I’ve read regarding PPC strategies. I want to share what I learned from that article, and have since learned through my own experience in creating Negative keyword lists.
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Negative Keyword Lists
When you advertise on Google or Bing, it’s your responsibility to tell Google and Bing which keywords you want and don’t want your ads to show for. Keywords that you do not want to advertise on are called, Negative keywords. Adding Negative keyword lists is the easiest way to save yourself a massive amount of money, time and failure.
Negative Keywords can be added at an Account, Campaign or Ad Group level. I’m going to share the 5 Negative keyword lists that I use in each one of my Google AdWords or Bing Ad accounts.
There are certain keywords that should always be excluded from any PPC campaign. Although searchers may not use these all that often in your specific vertical, I took the recommendation and will also recommend that you include these in your General Negative keyword list. I’ve named this list “General” because that’s literally what it is. Add the following as broad match keywords in your “General” Negative keyword list, exactly as you see them:
- angies list
It’s hard to anticipate every search term that might be typed into Google. I was given the majority of this list and have since added a few more search terms to it. It has saved my clients so much money!
Each industry will be unique, so it’s important to think ahead about what searchers might type and add those search terms to this list. Add the following as broad match keywords in your “Employment” Negative keyword list, exactly as you see them:
- part time
- non profit
- full time
When you think about your industry, think about the products or services that you want and do not want to target. Make a list of both. This will help keep you focused on the direction you should go, rather than unknowingly targeting everything (and costing yourself a lot of money).
Let’s use Pest Control as an example for which “Industry” keywords I would consider adding to my Negative keyword list. If you are in the Pest Control vertical, I would add the following as phrase match keywords to your “Industry” Negative keyword list, exactly as you see them:
- “home depot”
- “how do”
- “how to”
- “what is”
- “what are”
- “lawn spray”
- “ceu classes”
- “can I”
- “bug bombs”
When I audit Google AdWords or Bing Ad accounts, I find that competitor keywords are one of the biggest expenses companies don’t even know they have. This is one of the most important lists you could possibly build. It’s been my experience that if a person is typing a competitor keyword into the search query, they either have an existing relationship with that business or they know exactly what they’re looking for.
We listen to most phone calls that are generated to ensure that we’re getting new business opportunities. We find it’s very rare that a business is able to win the business of a person searching for their competitor. I would add all the names of your competitors, as exact match keywords to your “Competitor” Negative keyword list, using the following example: [competitor name].
Since your goal in AdWords is to generate as much new business as possible, I recommend creating a Negative keyword list that eliminates your brand from showing up in your campaigns.
To be clear, I do believe in running ads for your brand. After all, your competitors may be showing ads on keywords related to your brand, when someone searches your name. As this article isn’t about branded campaigns, create a list of search terms related to your brand and add those into your “Branded” Negative keyword list. I suggest using the following structures:
- [brand name]
- “brand name”
- +brand +name
One of the easiest opportunities to save money, time and frustration is to add these five Negative keyword lists to your Google AdWords or Bing Ad account. Depending on your vertical or industry, these lists may change. Regardless, spend the time to add in what you feel is necessary. If you don’t take the time now, you will eventually take the time later, only then it will cost you!