QUESTIONS? 1-866-931-4878

The Positives of Negative Keywords

Posted on by Mike Poserina in Google AdWords, Keywords, MSN AdCenter, Yahoo Search Marketing

Alright, so you have your keyword list built out. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of keywords all ready and waiting to be typed in and searched by your beloved audience. You’re ready to get people on your site. You’re excited.

But here’s the snag: unless you’re running campaigns made entirely of exact match keywords, you’re going to need to throw in a few negatives to keep the undesirables out. And by a “throw in a few,” I mean “build a comprehensive list.”

Why? Well, first off, a lot of people underestimate the power of the negative keyword. But if you think about it, negatives refine the search process just as much as any other keyword. They all have the same purpose, though the methods are different: keywords bring certain people in and negative keywords keep certain people out. Like a guest list and a bouncer, respectively. You need both to throw a successful shindig.

Yeah, just roll with me on the analogies here.

Like this one: basically, negatives are the silly putty that plug the holes left by broad and phrase match keywords. Without them, your search funnel will be leaking all over the place. Which just leads to wasted money, in the end.

So what’s the first step? Keeping in mind that there are two different levels of negative keywords, the ad group level and the campaign level. And trust me, they’re not the same.

Ad group level negatives are best used to keep your ad groups completely separate from each other, so that search queries don’t trigger a broad match in one ad group when there’s an exact match in another ad group, one that happens to be much better suited for them. In other words, they keep your keywords in the ad groups they’re supposed to be in.

So really, all you need to do at the ad group is cross-examine your main keywords. For example, if you have Dog Toys and Squeaky Dog Toys ad groups, then you should probably make “squeaky” a negative keyword in the Dog Toys ad group. That way, anybody who types in “squeaky dog toys” gets ad creative from the right ad group.

That’s really it for ad group level negatives. Campaign level negatives, in the other hand, are a bit trickier.

The best method for those is to take a good look at your keyword list and think long and hard about what kind of searchers you want to exclude. In some cases, these might be fairly obvious (but not always), like a realtor excluding “courses,” “picture,” and “jobs.” The people typing those in are probably not the people a real estate agent is looking for.

But in other cases, negative keywords aren’t quite so straightforward. Sometimes, you can think of them right up front, which saves you a little time and money. But sometimes, you don’t catch them until later.

The good news is, any Google search can turn up a few good lists of negative keywords, both broad and for specific sectors. Most companies also have their own negative keyword lists that you can use.

Do not, however, just copy and paste them in; you’ll run the high risk of blindly excluding people that you actually really want. Instead, you want to go through and pick and choose which ones would be best for your campaign. Use the lists as a baseline and don’t give up on brainstorming some of your own.

The last and most important step? Keep updating your negative keyword list. Don’t give up once you’ve set up the account. The best thing you can do is consistently run search query reports and pick through the things people type in to make sure that they’re all in harmony with what you want. Over time, you’ll find more and more irrelevant and non-converting keywords to add to your pile.

And that is the spirit of optimization.

Dale Carnegie got it, Ashton Kutcher gets it, however many large companies with hundreds of thousands of visitor’s seemingly do not understand that Twitter is about winning friends and influencing people. Somewhere in between the hype and the effectiveness of social media are the managers that are either winning and influencing a positive reaction from follower’s or doing a good impression of comment trolls and offending customer’s. The fact of the matter is that your selection of the person managing your Twitter account can lead to a positive impact on your bottom line or a PR disaster.
Today a perfect example of this Double edged sword was displayed in a jaw dropping back and forth between a fan and an NFL team. We all know that fans get angry when a team they love is losing, they sometimes get irrationally angry. In this case the fan tweeted directly to the team that he was losing faith in the team and didn’t think they spent enough on players to be competitive. The complaint did have the numbers wrong and took an offensive approach.

KC Chiefs twitter war

Things got interesting when the team, rather than using the comments for the best and turning the angry fan into a revived cheerleader, decided to “let him have it” and stooped to his level.

KC Chiefs reply to TeeDubya tweet

This unsympathetic and aloof response must have seemed like it was not a big deal at the time of the tweet.  However, it set the twitter-sphere off and got a large amount of publicity.  So much so that the Chiefs had to offer a formal apology.

KC Chiefs twitter apology

At this point they have blocked the original twitter user and will have to explain themselves further to repair the image people have of the team being unprofessional and not caring for their customer’s, in this case their fans.
The double edged sword of twitter comes about when you are a large brand, forced into using social media by your customer’s and your industry and never embracing its’ value. This is a classic example of managing a large twitter identity without taking seriously it ability for good and bad effects. This one tweet could cost the team huge profits from merchandise, season tickets and bruise their public image for a long time.
Social media standards can help you prevent this from happening at your company.
1. Give your Social media interns standards for responses. Though we believe it is best to leave it to professional copy writer’s or PR reps, many companies have interns manage these accounts by necessity, make sure they ask themselves, “does this message represent the business in a positive light?” and “am I writing as an individual or as the business?”. In this case the tweet replied sounded more like a blog comment argument that was taken too personally. The apology uses the terms “I” and “my” showing that this individual is making statements for the organization though we still don’t know the individual. This takes the sincerity out of the apology. The organization, brand or business always needs to refer to itself as the whole and any apologies need to be directed towards the individual that was involved.
2. Look for a positive spin in any negative twitter message. There is an opportunity to talk about the great deal that the team got on any number of players this season, a great week of rushing, the increased cap space for next year or to invite the customer out to the stadium or the business for a tour. Thanking them for their long lasting loyalty to a small market team is important here. Make sure the customer feels glad that they got a response and extend gratitude that they had been buying in, ensure them that they can be proud of being involved with your business. Don’t ever talk down to the customer, remember, every opinion is true to the customer, whether it’s based on facts or not.
3. Turn answers into traffic and improvements in the business. Dive into the customer’s complaint and explain it in an article, tweet the article as a response and drive traffic to the site. For the Chief’s an article explaining how cap space rolls over to the next year would help drive traffic to the site resulting in higher traffic, ad revenue and possible merchandise sales. It would also resolve the issue with the customer. Another option for e-commerce companies is to ad the answer to the FAQ. You can use your customer’s complaints to improve your future customer’s experiences in pre-purchase, fulfillment and post purchase. Respond with a message showing that you appreciate their opinion and have gone so far to explain why it’s fair that someone may have that opinion and let them know, “here is what we are doing about it”.
4. Educate the customer don’t offend them. Sometimes customer’s become angry due to a lack of knowledge, this is not their fault. Explaining in depth is not a place for twitter but it can be done through references. This is also your best sales tool. Give them the knowledge that they need to change their mind and let them know that you are glad someone spoke up about their opinion.
5. Just let it go. Sometimes it’s best to simply let a comment go without getting too involved. There are many people out there who are attacking businesses and looking to get attention from it. Rarely there is a case for letting it the comment go when providing a response or an answer gives too much credibility to the question. Once again, this is rare since most issues like this have an amicable if not positive solution with the right response.
By not embracing the opportunities to connect with and manage customer’s, satisfied or otherwise, the organization dug itself a hole and looks as though the angry customer was completely right in their assertion. Having the wrong person control the account cost this team quite a bit of respect that could have been used to improve the bottom line, connect and help fans have a full understanding of the team they love.
We have greatly appreciated the opportunities that social media has enabled and have many friends that have helped us develop our understanding for the platform. If you are looking for consultation on your own account, please reach out to us.