Negative Sculpting to Target the Right Searchers

By Mark Browner | Feb 17, 2011
More Articles by Mark


One aspect of PPC management that many people forget to do is Negative Sculpting. It is extremely important to add negatives to your account. If you don’t, you are going to get a lot of impressions and clicks from search queries that are not relevant to your product or service.

Why Negative Sculpt?

  • Makes your campaign much more highly targeted
  • Saves budget by deterring non-targeted clicks
  • Leads to a higher ROI and lower cost per conversion
  • Forces AdWords to funnel search queries to the most appropriate Ad Groups (Google sends search queries through all different keywords, so if there are broad keywords the queries are likely to come through un-targeted broad keywords)

There are 2 different ways to Negative Sculpt. I strongly suggest doing both in order to have the most relevant PPC campaign possible.

Adding Negatives to All Campaigns:

Make a list of all the words, terms and phrases that are not relevant to your campaign. This list should include anything and everything that will be bring in traffic to your site that is not appropriate. For example, if you sell a product that is high end and somewhat costly you should add account level negatives for words such as -cheap, -free, and -low cost. There are several different ways to compile this list of possible negatives:

  • Type your keywords into the Google Search Bar, and using Google Instant see which terms come up as suggested search terms
  • Search for your terms and see what the organic and payed results are
  • Run a search query report for your whole account to find the phrases that are showing your ads

When conducting these searches, you will want to take note of all possible negatives. Once you have done this research you want make all of the irrelevant terms into negative keywords throughout the whole account. The easiest way to do this is to use AdWords Editor and add the negatives to all Campaigns throughout the account at one time. Refer to Search Mojo’s quick webinar, AdWords Editor 101, to learn how to make multiple keyword changes.

Adding Current Keywords as Negative Keywords to All Other Campaigns and Ad Groups:

This involves taking all of the keywords from one ad group and making them phrase match or exact match negative keywords for all other ad groups within that campaign. You also want to make all keywords from one campaign phrase or exact match negatives in all of the other campaigns. This is done because, if your campaigns contain broad matched keywords, search queries will inevitably come through less relevant keywords. This forces AdWords to funnel search queries to the most appropriate and relevant ad groups thereby matching search queries with the best ad copy.

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