The Importance of Negative Keyword Auditing in Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Despite its name, negative keywords are actually a good thing for you, your wallet, and your pay-per-click campaigns. Negative keywords enable you to curb undesirable traffic and clicks that aren’t performing in your pay-per-click campaigns.

This, of course, can save you money.

How Negative Keywords Work

When you add negative keywords at the ad group or campaign level, you are telling the search engine, like Google, that you do not want to show for that specific search. You may not carry that specific product or maybe you found that the keyword never converts and only drives up your cost. Whatever the reason, you are using negative keywords to better target your audiences and lower your return on investment, since you will no longer be paying for those unwanted clicks.

Proven Method of Discovering Negative Keywords

The first step in adding negative keywords is figuring out what searches your ads are displaying for and analyzing the data, like cost, conversions, and cost/conversion. You also should be aware of the timeframe – a keyword that looks like it costs only a few dollars a month without any conversions, actually could be hundreds if you look at it overtime.

The easiest way to see your audience’s searches is to run a Search Term report. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Keyword tab
  2. Click the “Search terms” button

You now have full insight into what searches have pulled up your ads for that specific keyword. From this reporting view, you can easily add negatives as you analyze the keywords.

Areas to Look For:

  • High cost, little to no conversions
  • Higher than the average cost/conversion
  • Unrelated-to-your-industry search terms

When you add negative keywords, you have to be aware of matchtypes – phrase, exact, and broad. This determines how much reach your negative keyword will cover and exclude.

A Positive Story of Negative Keywords

For our eCommerce client, a storm of Minions hit when the movie launched – everyone wanted ribbons, gift bags, and birthday supplies with these lovable yellow guys on it.

Unfortunately, our client saw an increase in spend without any conversions, since there was no inventory to support the searches. We quickly added “minions” and “minion” as phrase-match negative keywords at the campaign-level and saved the client hundreds of dollars every month.


Exactly how we felt!

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