For years, I struggled with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. As newbie to the SEO and advertising industry, learning all the ins and outs of creating an effective campaign was not only complicated, but also extremely time-consuming. Through years of effort and a lot of trial and error, there are a few best-practices that have stood out from the others. One of these is the use of negative keywords.

Why are negative keywords needed?

Have you ever created a paid search ad that is ranked for a keyword that you did not mean to rank for? You aren't alone--this has happened to me and a million other PPC marketing executives.

Sometimes, your ad is ranked for a keyword with a high density in your ad content, but that is not actually a target keyword. This is a huge waste of time and money. After all, ranking well for irrelevant keywords isn't good for anyone. Your ads will appear for irrelevant people who have no interest in your services or products if this happens. These people are going to wind up annoyed, and you will spend money on a wasted click.

Avoiding this situation requires the use of negative keywords. This will help ensure you never rank for any irrelevant keywords.

A negative keyword is the search term or terms that you exclude from your ad campaigns. You do this to ensure you are not ranked for irrelevant keywords.

Negative keywords versus traditional keywords

Unlike normal keywords, the ones you are trying to rank for, negative keywords are the ones you don't want to rank for, but that may be included in your ad copy. This is the key element that makes negative keywords different from traditional ones.

Another way that negative keywords are unique from regular ones is how the close variants are treated in each situation. With traditional keywords, close variants will be targeted automatically. With negative keywords, you must add the close variants. This is because only the negative keywords you add manually will be blocked or considered.

It is possible to add this information through the Display Network and Google Search campaigns, which will ensure your ads are not shown on site that are using those keywords. You can also add these in Bing or other ad campaigns you create.

Finding negative keywords

If you are running a traditional ad campaign, it is smart to create a list of keywords you should block. This can help you save money and time that may be wasted if these irrelevant keywords trigger your ads.

Searching and finding these keywords isn't too different from finding traditional keywords. In fact, the process is the same except that you are looking for the most irrelevant keywords on the list rather than the most relevant ones.

By doing this, you can get the desired results for your campaigns and enjoy the benefits of reaching only people who want to know more about the services or products you offer.