You know what really perplexes me? The willingness of people to just give away their money for no reason. Especially, when those people are fiscally responsible, like paid search marketers focused on driving ROI.

There is a terrible misconception about what success looks like for ppc managers and Google is cashing in on our blissful ignorance. Where did we go wrong? We accepted and assumed that turning a profit is good enough, and as long as we improve month after month, everything is fine.

You and I both know that we’re not going to convert every single click. In fact, we probably won’t convert most visitors. Here’s the rub. How many of those clicks could we have avoided in the first place? Especially if that word has been searched before. Especially if it’s a word that never converted.

The problem is we have a defeatist mentality that we’ll never achieve 100% conversion rates, so as long as we turn a profit, that’s good enough. Good enough to keep us feeling accomplished, and good enough to keep our clients happy and off our back.

Unfortunately…Good is The Enemy of Great!

I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in just being good enough. I want to be Great. I want to be the best. I want to give Google as little of my clients hard earned money as possible.

I know there is a point of diminishing returns. A point where the net effect of your efforts is actually more costly than the savings. (We all know there is enough to do with PPC management to keep us busy day and night. We don’t  need more work.)

Still, if you get complaints from your clients about competitors clicking their ads, why aren’t you looking at server logs and blocking bad IP addresses? If you’re running any keywords that aren’t exact match, how often do you invest in negative keyword development? Don’t get complacent with a set and forget strategy, did you know that if your negative keyword is the 11th word in a query, your ad will still show up? This is why it is so important to negate every single bad keyword as quickly as possible. Who knows, maybe your negative keyword will be word 11, and if only you invested in a more comprehensive list, you would have avoided a bad click.

We all know and fear the “death by 1,000 clicks” demon. Nothing is a bigger waste than watching you burn through your budget on terrible keywords. Here is how I silence this particular demon and my favorite negative keyword tools.

1. I build out the most complete negative keyword list I can by hand prior to advertising. For this I use Wordstreams negative keyword tool. I also make sure to add common negative keywords, like the Super Duper list PPCHero compiled. I also run a few searches in google for my clients industry or  head keywords plus negative keyword (i.e. negative keywords for plumbers) to see if anyone wrote a blog post on my industry and shared their negative keyword list. If there are any data sets with historical search query data, I make sure to mine that list as well.

Many people use their all keywords tab within adwords, or their search query reports in analytics to mine for negative keywords, but analytics is an incomplete data set, and adwords only lets you add a full query, not individual words.

While I do look at my search query report, there is a better and more accurate way.

2. I only know of one other PPC manager that does real time monitoring of search queries to quickly get rid of any bad keywords. This requires an in-house tool I use which works some pretty awesome magic. It captures the full query in real time, and every time a query doesn’t convert, it parses the query into individual words and checks it against all queries that did convert to see if each word in the query ever appeared in a query that converted. If a word never appeared in a query that converted, it recommends it to me as a negative keyword. The tool will even show me the relative cost per acquisition of each word so I can see if it’s hurting me too much.

This leads me to a very important question. What do you do with a word that seems like a good keyword and logically should produce conversions, but never converted. I guess it depends on your clients wishes and budgets, but I would get rid of it. Even if it seemed like a great keyword. focus your spend on what works.

When I first launch a campaign, I use this tool about once an hour for the first 4 hours. It only takes a minute or two. Obviously there is less conversion data to run it against, so I only remove clearly bad keywords until I have more data. Still, this real time monitoring keeps me from dying via 1,000 clicks.

I continue using this tool every day for the first week my campaigns run, and after a while it only surfaces one or two words a day at which point I can look at it once a week. At the end of the month, I will upload the full list of queries and see which words are wasting my money.

This strategy works best for negative broad match keywords, because I never want that word to be shown again.

3. As I fine tune my broad modifier match keywords and discover what queries works well, I break those out into their own adgroup and/or into a new campaign, and make sure they are negated out from all my other campaigns.

Probably the biggest waste of spend is when you compete with yourself, and not only pay a higher click price, but often show the wrong ad and landing page for that keyword.

If there is one thing I can emphasis more than anything it’s to be proactive with your negative keyword research, and unless you are converting 100% of your visitors, don’t get complacent. Be great, not…barely good enough!

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

13 thoughts on “Don’t Write Google a Blank Check: Advanced Negative Keyword Strategies For Savvy PPC Marketers”
  1. Negative keywords are the foundation of any pay per click optimization strategy. It baffles me how few small businesses will not take 10 minutes to find a good negative keyword list off a Google search.

    1. I’m not going to lie, the first two years I ran paid search, I never added negative keywords. Amazingly, it was pretty successful without them, but obviously now I know I probably wasted 30% of my budget on avoidable bad clicks.

    1. lol. I figured since I linked to the source it was ok. the images were really an after thought to the post, so I didn’t put much effort into finding the best pics.

  2. I wish I had money to give away! Hahaha I can barely make it to paycheck to paycheck. I get why all of this must perplex you because I don’t understand it either!

  3. It just takes a little bit of effort to make PPC work for you, but of course no one wants to put in the work or pay someone to do the work for them. Bunch of lazy fucks.

  4. PPC is a tricky game, so many things get overlooked and google is constantly changing their algorithms so that no one can keep up with the game without their help. But of course their help doesn’t come for free.

    1. Faisal, that is certainly true, but its a shame because all this info is out there in the open.

  5. Great Article. I am a New Blogger, your all Tips is Really helpful for me. Thank you very much for Valuable Tips.

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