How To Use Negative Keywords


Caller: Hello, Amazon?

Hannah: Um… No. You’ve reached OSS Marketing..

*Awkward Silence*

It’s funny, but it’s true. Someone called my office looking for Amazon digital services. While I’m flattered to be considered as amazing as Amazon (I mean c’mon, have you heard of Prime!?) – I’m still not Amazon.

The caller, let’s name her Joy, got our number from a Google Adwords ad we were running. I had a feeling I knew what the problem was and why Joy had reached OSS instead of Amazon. She was nice enough to answer a few quick questions before I pointed her in the direction of Amazon, and I was able to pinpoint what I had suspected.

Hannah: Did you by chance click on an ad in Google?

Joy: Yes.

Hannah: Do you remember what keywords you typed into the search bar?

Joy: I typed in “Amazon Digital Services.”

Hannah: Ahh.. Yes, I see. I own a digital marketing and advertising agency, and we’re running an ad on digital services. It looks like we need to add a negative keyword!

We hung up, I had a good laugh about it, and then I went into Google Adwords and added a negative keyword (also known as a negative modifier) for the term “Amazon.”

Okay, let’s back up a bit

For those that are learning, Google Adwords is a great advertising option that is also known as search engine marketing (SEM). This is not the only SEM product out there and you’ve certainly got some options to choose from. Our agency alone uses multiple SEM products depending on the client needs and industry.

SEM isn’t for everyone. It depends on your specific business, and like any advertising method it should be used strategically.

SEM makes it so that your website pops up at the top of the page when a potential customer searches for a product or service that you offer. It’s a great tool that allows you to show up before your competitor. SEM operates on pay per click advertising (PPC) so that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

The specific type of campaign I was running for this particular ad is what is called a click to call (CTC). This is a handy dandy tool that allows potential customers to click the ad from their mobile device and immediately call you.

Back to negative keywords

For those that are learning about Adwords, a negative keyword tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who has searched the term that you specify.

In our Amazon real life example, I went into my Adwords account and added “Amazon” as a negative keyword because I didn’t want my ad to be shown to anyone searching for that term.

The reason I did that is because every time someone clicks my ad I pay a fee for that click (called pay per click (PPC) ). If the person that clicks my ad wasn’t looking for the services I offer, then it was a waste.

This is actually pretty common when running an Adwords campaign. When you’re setting up your campaign you can try and think of every rational negative keyword that you can add, but there will always be weird search terms that you won’t think of. There is no rational reason why I would have thought to put Amazon as a negative keyword while creating my campaign.

Yet there it is, sitting in the negative keyword pile of shame.

Things to think about

If you’re currently running an Adwords campaign and you often receive calls that don’t apply to you then it’s time to make some adjustments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when someone calls looking for someone else. Ask them how they came to call you, and if they did click on an ad then what did they type into the search bar? Just like I asked my friendly caller, Joy. Most people are happy to help and answer questions if you’re polite and explain to them simply why it’s important to you.

It’s important that you gather this information. It’s you need to make your campaign even more specific and effective.

If you have someone running the campaign for you, it’s a good idea to communicate with them when something like this happens so they know to add a negative keyword and save you some of your ad budget.

If it sounds like the SEM product would be a good fit for your business and you’d like more information on how it could be applied to you, give us a call or shoot us an email. There are a lot of digital advertising options. If SEM isn’t a good fit, something else will be.

Our team at OSS Marketing is always ready to dive into a new project.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this post, and I hope it helps you in your digital advertising endeavors!

– Hannah