04 Mar 2010

AdWords Negative Keywords – Stop Being Robbed!

March 04, 2010PPC Advertising



A lot of articles and blog posts have been written regarding the importance and use of negative keywords and I guess this is just one more, but we took on a client over the last few weeks that provided some incredible examples of two things:
  • How loose the AdWords algorithm can be when matching a search string to actual keywords.
  • How often those clicks can cost you big money.
OK, so let’s use what is hopefully the most outrageous example in this account, but one that should really get your attention.
Our client sells package ecommerce storefront solutions. One of the keywords we bid on is ".net store".
For those of you that don’t know (and this may in fact turn out to be Google) .Net is a software framework or code that was developed by Microsoft and used by web developers all over the world.
As part of our normal PPC campaign management, we run frequent checks on which search strings are actually causing our ads to appear. 
AdWords provides a very handy tool for this, all you have to do is go to the Keyword tab in a campaign and click on the See Search Terms button.

See Search Terms


When you click on that button you will get a choice to look at all terms or selected. In this example I chose selected and clicked the box next to the ".net store" keyword.
The next page will show you a report that looks like this:


search terms result page


Incredibly these are some of the terms that AdWords felt were close enough to the keyword ".net store" that they showed our ad.   BTW, this was in just one week and this is only a partial list of these types of words.
The second part of this is probably more incredible…at least to me. Larry Winget wrote a book called "People are Idiots and I Can Prove It" (http://www.amazon.com/People-Are-Idiots-Can-Prove/dp/1592404375). 
Maybe this will be in his sequel…..anyway, some software at AdWords might have matched up these keywords to our ".net store" keyword, but then someone actually clicked on the ad when they saw it. 
Remember, someone types "ross department stores com" in the Google search engine and then clicks on this ad when they see it:

.net ad*I have the customers permission to use this data, but I covered the URL.

It’s hard to believe….but that kind of traffic was costing our customer $30/day…or $10,000 per year!  So check your keyword traffic regularly, use negative keywords to block this traffic and don’t let trash clicks steal your profits!