Harnessing the Power of Negative Keywords

by Ben Holse (He/Him)


Negative Keywords Can Help Prevent a Whole Lot of Confusion

Do you know what a negative keywords are? As anyone who has ever used Google can attest, what comes up in your search is not always relevant to what you were actually looking for. Negative keywords are very specific words or phrases that you want to block from your target keyword list in an ad campaign to ensure that your ads will not be shown around those specific words. These words often share grammatical similarities to keywords you would like to target, but have a vastly different meaning. 

For instance, a few months ago I was digging into The Campaign Workshop’s Google Analytics and discovered that one of the top keywords driving searches to our page was my name. As I dug deeper, I discovered that Benjamin Holse had come up in 14,000 searches in a one-month period. Funny, I thought, I didn’t think I was Googling myself that often. It turns out that in addition to being a Junior Account Manager at The Campaign Workshop, Benjamin Holse is also the name of a famous German grifter. His most recent excursions have seen him enjoying the nightlife in Thailand. 

There are countless other examples of negative keywords that drive odd traffic to your site as well. Many may not know that GO TV happens to be the name of a popular South Asian TV streaming service. One could see how that would get a little confusing for those searching “GOTV Best Practices” around election time.

And if you are, say, running an ad campaign around search terms, its pretty important that you are reaching people who are actually interested in your product or service. But how do you prevent this from happening? Well, the answer is identifying your negative keywords. For those running ads around GOTV, you would definitely want to be sure to include GO TV to the negative keywords list.

That said, coming up with a list of negative keywords takes time. After your ad campaign has run for a little while, be sure to go in and take a look at which keywords are prompting your ads to be shown. If it is a keyword that has nothing to do with your target audience, add that term into your list of negative keywords. Save your impressions for the people who are most likely to want to see them.

Have other questions about negative keyword best practices? Ask them here.