Negative Keywords Are a Positive Thing in Pay-Per-Click Advertising

In search engine marketing (SEM), also called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you may stumble across the phrase “negative keyword.” While most would assume that this is a search phrase that showcases your dealership in an unflattering way (which it could be) the better way to look at negative keywords is to think of them as a way to focus your SEM marketing campaign on prospective car buyers, not just anyone who wants to read the latest automobile news.
Negative key-what?
According to Google, adding a negative keyword to your PPC campaign keeps your ads from showing up on search queries containing that term. For example, if you had ‘Jeep Wrangler’ as a broad keyword in your campaign, but you did not want your ad to appear when someone searched for ‘Jeep Wrangler timing belt’ on Google, Bing or Yahoo, you could add ‘timing belt’ as a negative keyword. The next time you search ‘Jeep Wrangler timing belt’ your ad will not appear, but when you search ‘Jeep Wrangler’ by itself, you ad will appear. You don’t want to have your ad appear on every single Google search, only the ones that are going to result in someone clicking on your ad and interacting with your dealership in a productive and profitable way.
Protect your image
Adding negative keywords to your PPC campaign not only helps you deter undesirable traffic to your website, it can also prevent searches that can be damaging to your dealership’s image. Someone searching for recalls, complaints, or lawsuits should not be exposed to your brand name. You sure don’t want to see your dealership’s ad next to an article about your brand’s safety criticisms. Add any keyword that will draw unwanted attention to your dealership on your negative keyword list immediately. Examples of these keywords are recall, lemon, scam, complaints, problems, trouble, cons, and any other keyword that might be added after a make or model.
From negative to positive
Negative keywords are essential in any search engine marketing campaign and are critical in sending only qualified leads to your website. If your keywords are too broad, then your ads will show on favorable and unfavorable web searches. If they are too specific, you might be missing out on a large number of relevant searches from potential customers. Negative keywords are the perfect solution to help filter out the unwanted searches without limiting yourself to exact match keywords. This will have a positive impact on your campaign and will improve the overall functionality of your search engine marketing.
By adding negative keywords, not only are you avoiding unwanted searches and clicks, you are saving money by only having qualified leads go through to your website. By narrowing the search engine keyword scope, eliminating damaging keywords from your account and targeting only relevant searches, you will optimize your budget and get better results from your pay-per-click campaign.
Tom Knoop is director of search engine marketing for Stevenson Advertising. If you need help starting your own pay-per-click campaigns, feel free to contact him at 800-643-8584 or email



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