Step 6: Reduce Wasteful Spending with Negative Keyword Discovery

Step 5 of our 7-step guide focused on top-performing keywords – that's where you should direct your content creation efforts first for the strongest return. 

However, for long-term success in search marketing, it's also critical to identify keywords that hamper performance and filter them from your research. This process is known as negative keyword discovery.

This will save you time and money on both the paid and organic fronts. For PPC, negative keywords reduce wasteful spending on irrelevant impressions that drag down CTR and irrelevant clicks that don't convert. (And higher CTR boosts your Quality Score, further reducing your costs.) Eliminating those same keywords from your SEO research prevents time and money being wasted on optimizing content for the wrong audience.

Broad Match Mishap

So how do you go about finding negative keyword candidates?

  • You can start by brainstorming. For example, if you sell bedding, your negative keyword list should include "music sheets," "work sheets" and other phrases that aren't related to bed sheets. In addition, you can often find negative keyword lists online for your industry.
  • You can look at your search query reports in Google AdWords and identify negatives on a case-by-case basis. This will help you catch negative keywords that wouldn't have otherwise occurred to you.
  • You can set up rules, or filters, that catch and eliminate irrelevant keywords from your research before you use them in your campaigns.

The third option is the most efficient, because it filters out whole groups of keywords that don't belong in your research – even those that haven't yet found their way in! WordStream's smart negative keyword tools do just that, greatly simplifying the negative keyword discovery process. 

Negative keyword discovery is just one of the repetitive, ongoing tasks that every search marketer faces. In the final section of our 7-step guide, we'll cover how to manage the continuous nature of SEM. 

To try out our negative keyword tools with your own data, sign up for a free trial of WordStream Keyword Management for PPC.