You can tell a lot about an AdWords account by reviewing its search queries - i.e. the terms web users are typing in to trigger your ads.
This data should be reviewed at least weekly, with negatives added to filter out the less relevant traffic from eating into your budget. A proactive agency will add several negative keyword lists before the account goes live, meaning your PPC campaigns will only ever receive the highest quality traffic.
Having worked with a variety of clients, I’ve quickly learnt that there are five types of web users you need to prevent from triggering your ads. You can get started with this by adding the following negative lists to your AdWords account:
Every business has competitors. Unless you’re bidding on their brand name, you’ll need to negative your competitors from within your account. These searchers are likely to bounce on your website and spend your valuable PPC budget – so this really matters.
The solution? It’s simple. Use an online directory and search for businesses in your industry and within your local area, you’ll also probably know a few already! All this means is that you’ll have a large list of competitors that you can add to your AdWords account and prevent your ads appearing against.
A negative list of names is particularly beneficial for companies who are bidding on their own brand name. It’s also helpful for industries where organisations are commonly named after their founders, like law firms - it can make weeding out your competitors very challenging!
You’d be surprised at how many web users search for a specific individual at a company e.g. Scott aquamarine media. However, this can be a problem for companies with lots of employees as the people typing these queries are probably looking to contact that specific person and aren’t that likely to convert via your ad.
Again, one of the best ways to combat this is to use an online directory that details the most popular boy/girl names in your target country and then add them to your AdWords account. You don’t want your ad appearing if a user is searching for a specific company or competitor, i.e. Sarah Witton’s Estate Agents, and a negative list of common names is a great way to avoid this.
Whilst you can set up your campaign to only target users within a geographical location, it doesn’t stop web users from searching for services in locations outside of that area.
A man living in Bolton might be considering relocating to London and so may search for “houses for sale in London”. Estate agents in Bolton will more than likely have their ads triggered by the phrase “houses for sale”, which would then potentially spend their ad budget.
Location negatives are by far the most challenging to remove completely as it’s almost impossible to cater for every city, town and village across your target area. However, I would recommend adding negatives for all the named places within the surrounding counties and, at the very least, you should be adding negatives for countries and cities!
A large list of generic negatives should be applied to almost every account that you work with. These will cover all the basic terms relating to jobs, free, photos, etc. Having a solid generic list in place from the start will give your account the best possible chance of succeeding.
If you’re handling multiple PPC accounts from similar industries it is certainly worthwhile creating negative lists that are industry-specific. For instance, in the software industry, you would want to negative terms relating to user guides, free downloads and cracked versions of software.
Finally, there are the researchers. These are the web users that are looking for specific information, statistics and answers.
Watch out for newspaper readers looking for answers to the latest crossword clues (yes this does really happen) or the web users who are at the initial stages of the customer journey.
The easiest way to prevent the less relevant members of this group from triggering your ads is to negative terms such as facts, figures, statistics, data, information. You may however want to consider creating specific ad groups for more challenging researching terms including best, review, compare and comparison. If these ad groups don’t perform then you can simply lower their bids or negative them entirely.
Work With An Expert
Search queries are one of the biggest indicators of an AdWords account’s health, but they are just one piece of the delicious PPC pie! If you think your AdWords account could perform better, get in touch to arrange a free, no-obligation audit and let us help you achieve PPC success!