January 22, 2008: (After you read this article, consider using our free Keyword List Generator to build large lists of target keywords and/or negative keywords.)
Every search engine advertiser should be using negative keywords in their Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns and/or Ad Groups. Negative keywords are words and phrases that you do not want searchers to associate with your products and services (see Google’s AdWords blog for some high-level information about negative keywords).
When you add negative keywords to your PPC campaigns your ads will not be served if those words are part of the user’s search query.
Not only does this benefit you by directly saving money on wasted clicks, it also improves the click through rate (CTR) of your keywords/ads, which helps improve your ad quality scores in Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Improved quality scores can help you with bidding strategies by allowing you to bid less than a competitor (who is not as knowledgeable, skilled intelligent, talented, sophisticated, etc. as you are), and maintain high/higher ad positions on a search results page.
Over my 6+ years managing Pay Per Click campaigns, I have built up a list of negative keywords that are useful when conducting B2B PPC campaigns (I am providing some of my list only :)).
This list is by no means exhaustive, and each company has its own unique market positioning. So, do not use this list of negative keywords indiscriminately!!! The list of B2B negative keywords below is meant to be a resource for you, and a starting point when you are deciding which words you do not want associated with your ads.
Avoiding Job Seekers
Prevent your ads from appearing for common employment and career-related searches:
Don’t waste money on people looking for information that is only loosely related to your products/services or industry:
No Research & Stats
Assuming you have a limited advertising budget, avoid people doing research, and make sure your are using your advertising $$ to generate sales and qualified leads:
We Don’t Provide Education
Prevent your ads from being shown to people looking for classes and education:
These negative keywords will help if you are positioned as a premium provider. If you do want visitors for these keyword concepts, create an additional campaign or ad group to focus on these discount concepts, and specifically bid on keywords that contain these words. And then make sure to add this list of negative keywords to the campaigns or ad groups that do not target the discount audience:
Avoiding Price Shoppers
You may want visitors to your site looking for pricing and/or quotes, but if not, make sure to add in these words as negative keywords to avoid prospects who may be more concerned with price than with quality or service:
In many industries there are “do-it-yourselfers” or hobbyists who are searching for information on how to take on a project themselves. It’s a good idea to screen out this audience if you do not cater to it:
Selling Commercial Software
This is a tricky one. If you are a company selling commercial or enterprise software, a) you are likely to want to avoid the thousands of software developers who are looking for free resources, and b) you want to avoid confusion with consumers looking for tools and home-use products. Use this list as a starting point, but also brainstorm and use keyword suggestion tools to find potential negative keywords that are specific to your software space:
download (if you don’t have one)
downloads (if you don’t have any)
microsoft ( )
Manufacturing & Industrial
This is a very broad list of words, covering many different concepts related to manufacturing and industrial companies. Use this list to start the process of generating negative keywords specific to your industry, product lines, and business model.
Obviously not all of these materials will apply to one business. I created this list of product materials as a reminder to screen out searches for product types that a company does not offer. One might wonder if it is OK to not screen for these in the hopes that someone will search for one type of product, but be convinced to buy a different type once they see what is available. Most B2B marketers have limited PPC budgets, so usually it is a better idea to only show your ads to people who don’t have a specific alternative to your products already in mind:
It is probably a good idea to prevent your ads from being shown to people looking for information related to legislation and regulations. There will be cases where this might not apply, especially if your product/service solves a regulatory/compliance issue (and if you have a landing page on your site that speaks to the legal issue AND provides a conversion action right there on the page):
Other Negative Keywords B2B Marketers May Consider
Here are just a few more words that seem to come up in B2B search advertising campaigns…
Remember, the list above is not comprehensive, and does not apply to all B2B marketers.
Please add your suggestions to this list!