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Negative Keyword Guide - Save Money with Intelligent Negative Keyword Filtering

There are several negative keyword best practices that can be implemented when using your WordStream account. The software offers a unique means of taming and putting to work for you the long tail of search (the lesser searched keyword variations which comprise, in aggregate, a majority of search traffic).

One aspect of this capacity to get the most out of the long-tail keyword tool is the way in which WordStream helps you to identify and filter negative keywords.

Negative keywords are keywords you are attempting to avoid bidding on. In designating a keyword as a negative keyword, you are telling search engines, "I don't want to bid on these keywords." It's important to effectively identify the terms you want to avoid bidding on so that you aren't spending your ad budget on words and phrases that are both irrelevant to your business and unlikely to drive qualified traffic to your site. This will improve your click-through rate and lower your PPC costs.

This tutorial teaches you to use WordStream's negative keyword tool set to do just that. Feel free to skip ahead to the section that seems to best fit your question or concern about negative keywords:

using WordStream as a negative keyword tool

In order to identify negative keywords with WordStream, you simply browse your keyword database to determine which keywords aren't in your best business interests to be bidding on. As you do this, keep in mind that:

  • Junk floats - The broader the keyword bucket, the more likely it is irrelevant keywords will be present. This is particularly true of the filtered version of the "All Keywords" folder.
  • Mine your long tail - More often than not, longer string phrase variations (key phrases containing multiple words) will reveal multiple irrelevant keywords. Often, the keywords you'll want to weed out will be located lower down the tail (the beauty of WordStream is that you can extricate these irrelevant terms without completely chopping off the "long tail").

Identifying the Keyword "Junk" and Cleaning Up Your Long Tail

When you first begin creating keyword groups, you'll be segmenting your WordStream keyword database by groupings of terms that are important to your business. You can then turn those groups into Ad Groups or leverage them for search engine optimization.

Once you have performed this initial segmentation, you will have created keyword groups that are highly relevant to your company and offering.

For instance, let's look at an example of a website offering diet and exercise information and products:

To identify negative keywords, first segment your keywords into groupings.

As we can see, this account has been segmented into several keyword groupings relevant to this customer's business. After thorough segmentation, a majority of the keywords that are relevant to your company and offering will be located in these groupings.

As such, in order to locate the best candidates for negative keywords, you want to sort through the keywords in your account that remain ungrouped after your segmentation efforts.

WordStream as a negative keyword generator

In order to generate this list of ungrouped terms within your WordStream account, you simply need to view the keywords that haven't been assigned to a Keyword Group.

To do this, first highlight the "All Keywords" folder, as shown here:

Generate negative keywords with WordStream by strategically viewing your all keywords folder.

Then pull down the drop-down menu located directly above the All Keywords folder and select "View Only Selected Group", as depicted here:

Identify negative keywords by strategically viewing your WordStream keyword database.

By selecting "View only selected group" you can now see all the terms left in the All Keywords folder when you exclude everything that belongs to a Keyword Group.

This will leave you with a list of words that didn't fit into any of your keyword groupings. This is a very manageable list of terms, and will likely be home to a number of words and phrases you'll want to set filters for.

Note: This process can be repeated for large, higher-level keyword groupings. In this case, once you have mined the All Keywords folder for negative keywords, you might also consider sifting through the "diet" and "exercise" folders viewing by "selected group only" to find irrelevant keywords.

It might not be worth your while to drill any further down than higher-level groupings (containing more than two requisite key terms), because the more tightly you segment your groupings, the less likely it is for irrelevant keywords to sneak into a Keyword Group (variations of "best diet plan" are very likely to be relevant to your diet-centric website, whereas some variations of a single- or two-term acronym are more likely to be irrelevant).

finding negative keywords in your long tail

Negative keywords you'll want to filter are often included in keyword phrases with other keywords you'll want to avoid. For this reason, it is useful, within the strategically segmented All Keywords Folder, to pay particular attention to longer queries.

You can do this by utilizing WordStream's advanced search functionality. Having highlighted the All Keywords Folder and viewed by selected group only, you can now enable advanced search on this list of keywords. Start by clicking the "Show Advanced Search" link in the top right-hand corner of your screen:

Negative keywords can be better identified with WordStream using advanced search.

Now, the advanced search dialog will be revealed. You can now further segment your keyword database to identify only longer queries:

Use WordStream's advanced search to better target approrpiate negative keywords.

Note that the ungrouped terms in this account number 3727.

The default setting for WordStream is to return all keywords: you can then alter the minimum number of visits, maximum number of "terms" (terms in this case meaning the terms within a key phrase, so "healthy diet" would have two terms, "best healthy diet" would have three, etc.), and minimum number of terms.

In this case, we are interested in the minimum number of terms. To find really strong negative keyword candidates, we want to view only the ungrouped keywords with five or more terms:

Locate negative keywords with WordStream's advanced search functionality.

Here we see the list of key phrases has been narrowed from almost four thousand to about five hundred by only including longer keywords.

You can now view all the ungrouped keywords within your WordStream keyword database that have five or more terms in the grid in the lower right-hand corner of your screen:

Identify negative keywords within your long tail keyword variations.

Here we see that within the longer, ungrouped keywords terms that are completely unrelated to our site are driving traffic. These terms represent keywords we'll want to set negative keyword filters for.

We can designate filters for "English" since we don't want to bid on variations of English exercises. You note that we also want to set a negative keyword filter for "efl". We may even want to set a filter for "quizzes" if we don't want to drive traffic to our site for that term.

By utilizing WordStream's advanced search functionality, we have filtered out multiple terms and eliminated several useless clicks we might otherwise be paying for. All in a few minutes work.

filter negative keywords: don't delete them

The next step is to be sure to optimally filter negative keywords.

While WordStream offers an option to either filter or delete keywords from your WordStream keyword database, we recommend choosing the filter keywords option. We make this recommendation because filtering keywords is the only way to create a negative keyword for the term you're filtering in your Google AdWords PPC account, and because filtering a word sets up a net to keep irrelevant keywords out of your WordStream account.

You can learn more about filtering keywords in the tutorial: Assigning Negative Keywords and Deleting Keywords.

setting group specific keyword filters

Finally, WordStream offers you the option of setting a group-specific filter within your WordStream Keyword Groups:

Unassign negative keywords from specific Keyword Groups with WordStream.

An important best practice highly recommended by WordStream is to:

Feel free to include the same keyword in multiple Keyword Groups.

For instance, if you've created a health group and an exercise group, feel free to include the keyword "health and exercise" in both.

This is the case because Google and other search engines will only run your ad against one of the two search queries, and will generally select the most cost-efficient version of your ad, with the highest Quality Score (in other words: the Ad Group Google AdWords determines the keyword to be most relevant to, and thereby assigns a lower minimum click and higher ad position).

the value of effective negative keywords

Utilizing broad match in tandem with powerful negative keyword tools affords you your only opportunity to efficiently tap into the buy-ready search traffic represented by the multitude of traffic located in search's "long tail". By following the above best practices in implementing WordStream, you can drive more and better qualified traffic to your website.

learn about more than negative keywords

To learn more optimization tips and techniques that will help you earn even more money from your WordStream account, take a look at any of the next modules in the WordStream Best Practices Guide series:

 

 
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