One study I read about recently said that almost half of all PPC advertisers don’t add a single keyword to their accounts over the period of a month. That doesn’t mean they don’t use negative keywords – but that considerable amounts of time may pass before they add even a single one. Building a negative keyword list is not a priority for them. And that’s a big mistake.

As we know the way you get your ads in front of a potential customer or client is to bid on search terms that they may use when they are looking for the product you carry or service you offer. In a nutshell, you sell Red Rubber Balls – you bid on “red rubber balls” and variations of that keyword and when someone searches for red rubber balls or variations of, your ad appears. Assuming you’ve done your homework and have built your campaign using SpeedPPC (cheap plug =) that someone clicks on your ad, lands on your perfectly aligned landing page (aka red rubber ball specific) and converts.

But what if someone is looking for “blue rubber balls” and you specialize in red only. If someone searches on “blue rubber ball” and you are using broad or phrase match – your ad may show up. And that someone may click on your ad even though your ad is very specific to the red version of rubber balls. The searcher hits your red rubber ball specific lander, immediately sees its got nothing to do with blue and leaves.

This all has a negative impact on your campaign. It adds an impression you shouldn’t have gotten, it adds a click cost you shouldn’t have paid, and it lowers your user engagement metrics which affect your quality score and ad position because it generates a higher bounce rate. Enough of these poor quality clicks and you can do some serious damage to your campaign and your wallet.

If you had added the exact match term [black rubber ball] or maybe just “black” to your negative keyword list that would have prevented this from happening. No ad triggered, no wasted click, no wasted spend.

So where do you find these negative keywords? If you’ve done your keyword research some negative keywords should be obvious straight off. Like our above example if you only sell red rubber balls then you may wish to add negative keywords that are color specific. You may also wish to add keywords that are materials specific- so “plastic” as your balls are only made of the finest rubber.

SpeedPPC’s keyword research tools are good sources of negative keywords. For example when I used the Phrase Match Report to search on possible red rubber ball keywords one of the keywords it returned was “red ball rubber boots”. This was not something I had even considered! Now because my campaign is very targeted I doubt this particular keyword would have actually triggered one of my ads – but safe better than sorry so “boots” goes into my negative keyword queue as well as [red ball rubber boots].

Another search research report worth testing is our Related Keyword Report. These are keywords that are thematically similar to your keywords. Here I found great negative keywords like “rubber spacers”, “spalding sports”, “bobby vee rubber ball” and “hollow plastic balls”. Again because my campaigns are as targeted as they are (thanks SpeedPPC!) none of these keywords would have triggered any of my ads – but word to the wise right?

Google’s Keyword Planner is another great place to find negative keywords. A simple scroll through the keywords Google recommends should gain you a considerable number of keywords you know are not a good match.

In addition, Google’s Search Terms Report is essential to building your negative keyword list. These are actual search terms used that triggered your ad. You are bound to find good quality keywords here but also keywords that clearly are only sending poor quality traffic to your site. You should be checking this report every time you check in on your account.

There are of course many other keyword research tools out there both paid and free. Most draw at least in part on the same databases, so if you are using SpeedPPC’s keyword research tools and Google’s Keyword Planner and Search Terms report on a regular basis, then you are already ahead of the game.