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Turn Your Paid Search Campaign Into a Laser Guided Missile with Negative Keywords

Aug 20, 2008
The best way to guarantee that you receive high quality, targeted traffic from your pay per click campaigns is to use only exact match keywords. This works fine if you are competing in an industry in which there is excess available keyword inventory, or when your budget is very limited. Often, however, due to strong competition for the top keywords or limited keyword inventory, you will need to use a more broad strategy. This opens you up to the possibility of having your ads displayed for non-relevant searches. The way around this problem is to use negative keywords to fine-tune you campaigns.

Negative keywords are keywords you specify that should not be included in search queries that trigger your ad. For example, if you provide services in one particular city but not another, you could use negative keywords to exclude your ad from being displayed from searches that contain the city where you do not do business.

Another example would be if you offer language translation services. If you run ads for the broad match keyword "Chinese symbols", chances are very good that you will generate a lot of traffic from people looking to have words translated into Chinese symbols for decorative purposes such as tattoos. So a good negative keyword in this instance would be "tattoo" because it would filter out people looking for Chinese symbols for tattoos, as opposed to more serious business matters.

As you run your campaign, it really helps to know what keywords people are actually using that trigger your ad at inappropriate times. In Google, you can generate a search query report that will provide this information. Run the report and then examine it for search phrases that triggered your ad that should not have. Then add those negative keywords to your account. Google lets you add negative keywords at the account or campaign level. If the keywords are ones for which you NEVER want your ad to display under any circumstance, then you should add it at the account level.

Use negative keywords to fine-tune the traffic that your web site receives via paid search. It will allow you to operate under a more broad strategy, but still limit your traffic to that that is the most appropriate. It is a power strategy that will help you improve your paid search return on ad spend by better focusing your marketing dollars.

Focus is the key to success in any type of marketing. If you broadcast your marketing message to the whole world, via mass distribution channels (or the Internet), you are going to be paying for a lot of set of eyes and ears that have no interest in your product or service. That is the advantage that search engine marketing has over traditional marketing to start with. When negative keywords are added to the equation, it increases the focusing process even further, turning your marketing message into a laser guided missile that only attacks the very best, most targeted prospects. It's a technique you should start using today.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, http://workmedia.net, a search engine marketing firm based in Nashville, and author of Scientific Search Engine Marketing: Maximizing Your Pay per Click Return on Investment.
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