How to Use AdWords Negative Keyword Lists
January 3, 2019
January 3, 2019
Hey everybody, Adam Arkfeld with ParaCore, and in today’s video I’m gonna go over AdWords Negative Keywords List, why you should consider them, maybe times that you shouldn’t consider them, and then also how we organize them here at ParaCore. Anyways, all right. So today we’re gonna be talking about Negative Keyword List, and this is a campaign that we used to run quite a long time ago, that just has not been closed down yet. And one of the most important parts of running an AdWords campaign is negative keywords. And there are really two different ways to manage them.
The first one is adding negatives to ad groups or campaigns specifically. And then the second option is to create a keyword list. And a keyword list is a list of keywords that you then apply to campaigns. In this screenshot, I’m on a campaign so I can see the ad group level. And then if I head up to tools, there’s this link here that says negative keyword list. When I click on that you can see the negative keyword list that I have set up for this account. This account is related to construction. It has an incredible amount of negatives related to the construction industry, so this one has 1,300 negatives, this one has 1,248, the global has 391. There were just a lot of negatives.
We spent months and months and months cleaning the traffic out of this account and it ended up performing quite well. So when I look at this list there’s five different negative keyword lists. So we have a branded list where we, this company specifically had a home inspection company that had a very similar name, so we added that as a negative. We categorized them into equipment, global, which went across the entire account list, this was applied to every single campaign, GPR and utility locating and then video inspection.
So these were applied to very specific types of services that we ran for this business. This business did GPR and utility locating and they also did video inspection. Any campaign that we had that related to GPR and utility locating we applied this negative list to. And any campaign that we had that related to video inspection we applied this list to. This business was national and they had campaigns running in a variety of different markets. I think there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 markets. So when there are 10 markets, that for us was 10 different campaigns, because we had different ad extension, different messaging for the geographic targeting, we had different landing pages that had geographic specific information.
So instead of adding a negative to the account, I don’t even know if you can add it to the account level, but to every single campaign, you add the negative to this one list here and then you apply it to all the campaigns. So if you’re just getting started, you can head over here through the tools section and go to negative keyword list and now here are all of your lists. You can create a brand new list by hitting this plus button, name the list and then add the negatives in here, and then you can save that. I’m gonna click into GPR and utility locating. And in here, these are all of the different things that came out of our keyword cleansing that we wanted to apply to all the GPR campaigns. So a lot of this stuff is kind of unique. There are some things in here that I would change, so if you’re an AdWords expert, don’t get all over me about our negatives. We had a lot of people working this account. But there are things like, a lot of these things are related to vehicles, a lot are related to equipment and products. This is related, a wire locator, wiring, seven days to die. I have no idea where these negatives came from but what I do know is that we didn’t want the searches related to them to be in this campaign. So we added them to this list, and then we applied the list to all of these different areas.
So we have GPR and locating in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, it just went on and on and on. So now if I were to add a negative to this list, it’s applied to all these campaigns and the negative is applied to all those campaigns. So it creates one central area to manage all of your negatives. And then if I decide to remove a negative I can remove it out of that list, and then it’s removed from all the campaigns. So it makes management way easier on the campaign level. So those are all the campaigns supplied to. If I hit apply to campaigns, then they all come up and these are all pods so I can choose which ones, and then I can move ’em over and then I can apply it. Now, one of the risks with running negative keyword lists is that you forget to apply it to a campaign, and that’s a bummer. So you might be doing some negative keyword cleansing, you take some keywords you don’t want in the search terms, you add ’em to a list, and then you don’t actually apply it to the campaign, and then you’re in trouble because the work that you did actually isn’t working. So you need to make sure that you’re checking these very, very frequently and making sure that the keywords coming out are actually coming out the way that you want them to, so you’re actually cleaning the traffic. Because if you don’t apply it to the campaign you’re totally out of luck.
So that’s what the negative list looks like, and I’m gonna show you how to find it now when you’re looking at the campaign itself. So if I head over here to ad groups, excuse me, I’m in a campaign right now, and I’m gonna head over to keywords. And then here at the top you have negatives, search terms, and auction insights. So a lot of times I’ll hit the search terms and I’ll just do all time, because I know some will come up. So we hit the search terms and then we have these different search terms here, right? So ground penetrating radar, concrete x-ray, blah, blah, blah. So if something comes up, like let’s say we don’t want sewer locator, then I would head over to negatives. And what you’ll notice here is that we don’t have a long list of negatives in this campaign or in an ad group. We only have three lists. We have the equipment list, we have the global list, and we have the GPR utility and locating list. So that is very important to know because when you’re adding a negative, don’t add it to the campaign if you’re running lists. If you added a negative to this right here, it would be like sewer locator, and if you added it, then you would see sewer locator. So this is not what we want. We don’t want this type of thing happening here.
We only want these three lists, and then having this here. Now, there are instances where you might wanna be adding negatives in the campaign itself. So for example, if you have different ad groups, and there’s something just really specific about this one ad group where you just wanna make sure that certain traffic doesn’t go into it. Let’s say that you have a sewer locator technician, and sewer locator equipment, or something, let’s just say that you wanted to put sewer locator technician into the sewer locator equipment categories so that you made sure the traffic didn’t overlap. That’s definitely doable. And that might be a time when you want to put them in the ad group or campaign itself. We also have some campaigns that we’ve taken from very, very broad when we took over the account, and we moved them into the single keyword ad group structure. And we start adding negatives to ad groups and campaigns to start filtering traffic to the correct ad groups, like, if I have a very broad match campaign that is pulling in a lot of traffic from different types of searches, we’re kind of using it for R&D, we’re kind of using it for different purposes than our other single keyword ad group campaigns, then I might add the phrase and exact match of the single keyword ad group in the broad match campaign so that that traffic is filtered into the correct campaign I want it to go to.
So there are times when you might want it, but I would say 95% of the time you are adding keywords to a list. Even if you only had one campaign or two campaigns, or it’s not a complicated account, start using lists, it’s just so much easier to manage, okay? So you can see these three here, so we have equipment, global, and then GPR. So global is in every single campaign that we run. Equipment is in this campaign because they don’t sell equipment, they only sold services. So all the equipment-related searches we grouped into one. We also oftentimes will create a list for locations. So depending on how you set up your geographic targeting, the locations might be, people might be in the location that you service, but they’re searching outside of it. And so that can kind of be a bummer if you’re not excluding the states around you. So there’s a lot of different things with geographic targeting that can kind of be a problem. So we often create a locations list, or if you have a broad geographic target, and you just want to exclude certain small pieces. So a locations list is very, very common. And if I head over to video inspection, now you see I have equipment, global, then video inspection, but I do not have the GPR and locating list in here.
So that is the power of the list. I can get all the equipment in here, and it’s all the same equipment across all of my campaigns. I can get all of the global keywords in here and that goes across all of the campaigns. And then video inspection, and then I can select and match different types of lists for different types of campaigns. So for this business it was GPR and video inspection were main categories. And so we had lists that applied to each of those. There might be keywords in both of the lists that are the same, but what I wanted to do was kind of segment conceptually which keywords went in which campaigns, and then you can apply those to all the different locations. So that worked out really, really well for us. Now, one of the challenges with keyword lists is that AdWords does not give you the notification of hey, you have a keyword conflict.
When you have negatives in here, just right inside the campaign, then AdWords will shoot you a notification to say, hey, you have a negative keyword conflict. One of the keywords that you have that you want people to find is conflicting with this negative that you added. And AdWords gives you that notification, and then you can fix it. When you do lists, it doesn’t work like that. You need to add one more feature, you can add a script that actually searches for those. And the way that you get around that is by using a negative keyword list script for your campaign or for your MCC account. Now, what I’ve done is I’ve gone to the Google Ads script library. I just typed in Google AdWords scripts negative keyword lists and it got me right here in search. And I clicked down here to negative keyword lists. And this says a new negative keyword list and add to the, so construct new keywords and add to the campaign. And then you put in the list name and the campaign name. And then this script will run and it will tell you if there are conflicts in the negative keyword list.
So what you need to do is you need to actually add a script to your account that manages negative keyword conflicts through a list. And what I did was I searched for Google AdWords scripts negative keyword conflicts. This is for a manager account and you can actually click over here to a single account. And you add a script to your MCC account, or if you have a single one then you do the single one. So what you do is you go through all these different lists and it tells you what to set up. So you create a Google Drive spreadsheet, you put in the spreadsheet URL. You also put in recipient emails, people that you want to receive the email. Then you can narrow it by an account label, so let’s say you have 15 accounts in your MCC account, you can label five of them saying check for negative keyword conflicts. And then you can provide the campaign label that indicates whether or not the script operates on the subset of campaigns in each account.
So what you do is you just copy this source code and then you head over to your AdWords account, your MCC account, you create a new script, and then you change some of the variables in here. So you take your spreadsheet URL from Google Drive and you drop it in. You put in your recipient emails, so for us this is all of our account managers. We have a group email that goes to all the account managers. And then we have a label for ours so we have to add a label to a campaign in order for this to run the script. And we schedule ours at 2:00 a.m. every day. It runs through all of our accounts and it compares the keywords against the negative lists, and if there are conflicts it actually sends an email to us saying, hey, we found some conflicts in your accounts. We need you to rectify this. And you’ll keep getting that email over and over and over until it’s fixed. So that’s really amazing.
This is really important if you’re gonna be using negative lists because you might add a keyword accidentally that conflicts with a major search term. It’s happened before. And then this list will allow you to manage those conflicts and catch them very, very quickly. So this is a really good safeguard against things like that. So if you’re not using negative keyword lists I would highly encourage you to do so. They’re incredibly powerful, they’re amazing, they make managing your account so much easier, they’re totally a best practice that we do here at ParaCore. And basically, everyone that we hire is used to just adding them to the ad groups and campaigns. We require them to move them all to lists unless there’s another reason not to do so.
So that’s all. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or ask below. I appreciate you watching. Please like and subscribe. My name’s Adam, the owner of ParaCore. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, we’re at ParaCore.com and we’re a PPC agency. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you in the next video.
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