By Paul Parcellin, Staff Writer
May 23, 2014

When you drive traffic with online paid advertisements in your PPC campaign you're taking on an often challenging task. Lead generation companies may find that bidding for keywords is particularly confusing. One strategy that might help you run more successful PPC campaigns is using negative keywords.

For those new to PPC, negative keywords can be used in keyword ads, and they prevent ads from being shown when negative keywords are searched.

When used properly, negative keywords can help ensure that your ads are being viewed by the audience you hope to reach. Ad networks provide instructions on how to add and edit negative keywords. The aim is to use negative keywords to craft a more finely targeted PPC campaign and increase the advertiser's ROI. Negative keywords prevent your ad from being triggered. Here are some suggestions for effective use of negative keywords.

Lists for Lead Generation Companies

You can compile a negative keyword list of your own, but that can take time. Rather than start from scratch, you can use an existing list. Begin by doing a Web search to find negative keyword lists. Experiment with your list and modify the entries as you see fit. You'll eventually find which words are yielding the results that you're looking for, and you'll save a lot of time in the process.

Ad Levels and Lead Generation

You'll want to designate certain negative keywords for two separate, distinct categories: your campaigns, and your ad groups. Campaign negative keywords are specific to individual campaigns. Among your campaign negative keywords you'll want to include broad terms related to items or services that you don't offer. If you don't offer extended warranties, or repair services, "warranty," "fix" and "repair" might be negative keywords to add at the campaign level.

However, if, for instance, you sell computers and you offer Mac, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard laptops, you may want to establish ad groups for each brand. In your Mac ad group you'll likely want to use "Samsung" and "Hewlett-Packard" as negative keywords. While you may want laptop-seeker traffic coming to your site, you may want your brand specific ad groups to attract those seeking the machines you have defined in your ad group.

Whichever way you decide to arrange your campaign and ad group keywords, it's important to develop a clear picture of how negative keywords with affect your ROI. You'll probably want to develop different approaches to each.

Lead Generation and Match Types

As a PPC marketer, you've got to be careful when using negative keywords because match types can help or hurt you. Keywords can have one of four match types:

Broad Match - Allows your ad to show on similar phrases and close variations of the keyword. Close variations include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stems, abbreviations and accents.

Phrase Match - Allows your ad to show for searches that include the exact phrase and possibly includes other words as well.

Exact Match - Allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase exclusively in that order, no other words.

Negative Match - Ensures your ad doesn't show for any search that includes that term. For example a search query for "cheap laptops" shouldn't trigger the ad with "cheap" as a negative.

PPC experts must choose a proper combination of match types to run effective campaigns.

It's important to be cautious when selecting broad negative keywords. Because of the potential far-reaching impact of match types, your negative keywords can have unintended consequences.

Learn more about match types and negative keywords in the video below:

Ongoing analytics is the most critical part of keyword research. You can always use as much research data as you can get to help you in your keyword bidding. Run Structured Query Reports (SQRs) to find out which keywords are getting placements and hits for your ads. You will want to run SQRs on a weekly basis, and probably daily when you are operating a complex campaign.

Build Lists for Lead Generation

While starter lists can be quite effective, you'll need to put in some serious effort to compile a good negatives list over time. You can compile a list to get your negative keywords efforts started, but eventually you'll need to devote more work toward refining your list. But it takes time, so don't expect immediate results. It's a good idea to give a campaign at least 30 days to begin paying off before you think about abandoning it.

Greater Returns on Lead Generation

When you use negative keywords you have the ability to increase your campaigns' effectiveness by trimming and fine-tuning the response you will receive from your keywords. When used effectively, negative keywords can reduce your costs and maximize profits.

It takes a bit of commitment for a newly launched campaign to begin to bear fruit. But, once you gain some experience in using them, you'll find that negative keywords are fairly easy to master and can be quite effective.

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