Negative Keywords Improve Traffic Quality – Case Study and Details

This is a guest post by Bren Hammel from Eureka SEM. Bren has over 6 years in the online marketing field from internet advertising to SEO & SEM.

In PPC advertising, conducting negative keyword research and implementing the results reduces the number of unwanted visitors and improves the return on your ad spend. Here’s how it works in principle, and some screenshots and a case study of achievable results.


One of the fastest ways to conduct negative keyword research is by using AdWords stats

Adwords Statistics

Negative keywords work to tell Google which keyword variations you do not want your PPC ads to show for. For example if you are selling a product such as “dog collars”, you may want to add negative keywords such as “free” and or “cheap”. By adding these kinds of negative keywords you can limit the amount of people that will see your ads that are predisposed to wanting cheap or free products.
It doesn’t matter whether using broad, modify-broad or phrase match keyword bidding, it is important that you determine which keyword phrases are causing you clicks and impressions that you do not want. The best way to sources information is in your ad words interface. First select the campaign then click the dimensions tab in the navigation bar of the ad words interface.

adwords negative interface

Once you’re in the “dimensions” area select “view:” and scroll down select “search terms”. The list provided will show you all the keyword phrases that have triggered ads over a given period of time. (You can adjust in the top right-hand corner of the adwords interface the time period in which you want to see what keyword phrases trigger your ads.)

The keyword phrase data can be quite compelling. The biggest cause that will give you unwanted visitors and impressions is “broad match”. Once you have gone through the “search terms” list and have selected and identified the keywords that are giving you unwanted impressions and clicks it is time to add these negative keywords to your campaign.

To add negative keywords to your campaign first you need to select the campaign and select the “keywords” tab. At the bottom of this page you will see a hyperlink “negative keywords”. This is where you can add the negative keywords to help get rid of unwanted impressions and clicks.

Negative keyword research using Google’s own search

By typing in your core keyword phrases Google will automatically show some of the most popular keyword phrases related to your search query. From here we can identify potential negative keywords we should incorporate into our campaign.

Google Dog Collar Suggestions - useful for finding negative terms

If we were in the business of selling dog collars, but did not have the ability to provide names on our dog collars, adding negative keyword phrases that would segment people out that are searching for dog collars with a name on them would help reduce our ad spend on a market segment we cannot cater for.

Real Results Of Negative Keywords

We’ve been working with a business for 18 months. They are in the health product industry. When we completed a campaign audit we noticed that they were not using any negative keywords.

When we took over the account management the CTR was 0.97%, which was increased exceptionally quickly to 1.33% due to negative keywords. But that is not where the fun begins. Their conversion rate went from 1.12% to 1.53%!

We got rid of traffic that was looking for information opposed to being interested in purchasing the product.
The use of negative keywords was also able to limit the amount of low cost based visitors. The client’s product is on the expensive side and by limiting amount cheap skate visitors that came to site were able to boost the conversion rate further.

Overall the use of the negative keywords has on its own helped increase the ROI of the PPC campaign. By using negative keywords you are able to target your ideal customers more specifically. I cannot recommend using them enough in your PPC campaigns.

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