PPC – The importance of negative keywords

A PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign is a very effective way to drive traffic to your website. Whereas search engine optimization is a strategy that works over time (months usually) to gradually work key terms up higher in the search engine results pages, PPC can garner a click literally moments after the campaign is activated.
It has to be remembered though that getting clicks is a simplification of the goal. The trick is to get meaningful clicks that create interest and hopefully earn new clients. Getting 1,000 clicks with no follow up is an expensive gamble. To make every dollar count, the PPC campaign should not only be diligently set up, it should be monitored carefully and frequently.

A powerful tool in maximizing your return on investment is negative keywords. They are a virtual superhero, defending the campaign from wasted clicks.

Why is that important?

  • Every click is costing you money
  • Every person who visits your site and doesn’t find what they are looking for may be less likely to click on your site again
  • Your limited budget only goes so far, so each click which is used up by someone looking for something else is one less click presented to a person actively searching for your product or service now
  • Every time your ad is clicked on and the viewer gets a poor landing page experience (indicated by clicking straight out and not engaging with the site), the quality scores for your keywords can be impacted. Lower quality scores result in a higher cost per click (CPC)

negative keywords

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are phrases or terms or even single words which, when matched to the search string entered online, will NOT trigger your ad to be shown.

How do you choose your negative keywords?

Right from the campaign kick-off, there may be some obvious keywords you want to enter. Just knowing you have the ability to add negative keywords triggers the thought process about how they can be utilized. Here’s a hypothetical example: Your business is rental cottages on the coast and you are looking to fill blocks in your calendar. Online searches vary depending on what the searcher wants. Search string about coastal cottages may be from the customers you want (those looking for a rental) but they could equally be about buying a holiday home or investment property. Those search strings could be almost identical:

Treasure Island beach cottage for rent (we want these people to see the ad)

Treasure Island beach cottage for sale (we don’t want these people to see the ad)

Treasure Island beach cottage (we don’t know if these people are looking for us but it could be worth a click)

Adding buy as a negative keyword will stop the ad being presented to those people who actively search for the word “buy”, thus reducing the chance of wasting clicks and honing in on the best target audience.

Even better – these negative keywords can be entered at the campaign level (blanketing the entire campaign), or at the adgroup level,  giving flexibility in how they are placed.

Once the campaign is active, click on the Keywords -> Search terms section to see what terms are being matched. If there are terms presented there that offer up new opportunities to fine tune the campaign and add more negative keywords, make a note of when they are added so you can monitor clicks moving forwards. Any changes can be reverted if they have an adverse impact.


If your business is looking to implement a PPC campaign, Trulium has the experience to zero in on the right keywords and identify the negative keywords which will maximize your ROI. Contact us today to get started.






SEO Keyword Strategy – Long tail vs Short Tail

How Long Should Your Keywords Be?

An ongoing debate for anyone choosing an SEO keyword strategy, what are the factors which can help you decide which keywords to use? One way to split out groups of keywords is by their length:

SEO keyword strategy

Examples include lifeboat, chocolate, chicken soup, gold necklace,  garden soil, hot cross buns, navy blue dress.

seo keyword strategy

Examples include chicken noodle soup recipe, Australian fire opal silver ring, search and rescue urban search techniques.

What do long tail keywords offer?

Most obviously the long tail keywords are much more specific. If there is a clear way to define your niche in the marketplace, and you can put into words the likely search terms that your ideal customer would use to find your business, long tail keywords offer several advantages:

  1. The visitors to your site are more likely to find what they are looking for as their search was more detailed.
  2. Your site is likely to rank higher as there is less competition in specific searches.
  3. Visitors who find your site are ALREADY looking for exactly what you offer so they are more likely to be ready to make a purchasing decision.
  4. If you decide to kickstart your marketing with a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, the long tail keywords are likely to cost less per click than broad targeting, short tail keywords which many others will also be trying to win.

The major downside – and it is a big disadvantage – is the volume of searches being done. Although you are likely to win a higher click through rate and connect with the right prospects, the overall number of searches being done for that particular (long tail) keyword will be lower than a broader search. For example, there might be 1000 searches for jewelry, 400 for gold jewelry and only 25 searches for gold jewelry necklace Figaro chain. Working the numbers: if your site converted 100% which matched that long tail keyword, it would be the same as converting   2.5% of the top level (jewelry) search but that may be difficult if you are ranking significantly lower – maybe pages lower than your competition.

What do short tail keywords offer?

They basically offer the flipside of all the points mentioned above – the biggest advantage being the sheer volume of searches being done. The bad news is that it can be difficult to rank highly and the field is competitive, leading to a high CPC (cost per click) if you decide to try PPC and a potentially long struggle to improve rankings to get anywhere near page 1, let alone position 1.

When a very specific search is entered (a long tail keyword), the viewer knows EXACTLY what they are looking for. That’s precisely why they are more likely to convert into a buyer after they reach a site. When a potential customer doesn’t know exactly what they want, they are more likely to enter a short tail keyword and may stumble across your site and then start to hone in on your product. It’s like an almost ‘accidental’ acquisition because your site has the chance to convert a general search into a specific interest in your product or service.

seo keyword strategy

SEO Keyword Strategy is a fine tuning exercise which has to be ongoing. Experimenting with long tail keywords could unlock a new marketing opportunity. If you’re looking for an SEO agency to help identify new keywords, contact us today.

PPC Management – Quality Scores

When running a PPC campaign, you can actively check every day and still miss out on learning how to monitor your ‘quality scores’ to optimize your strategy.

That’s because if you look at the campaigns, the ad groups or indeed the ads, you can see the number of clicks and other important data like average cost per click (CPC), the number of impressions and the number of conversions but you have to dig a little deeper to see the quality scores that google assigns to each of your keywords.

How to check your PPC Quality Scores

When you are inside your PPC campaign, you must click on the ‘keywords’ tab. In the ‘status’ column there are rectangular white bubbles which reveal the quality score for each keyword as they are hovered over. The lowest value is 1/10 which indicates ‘below average’ performance in each of the following factors

  • Expected clickthrough rate
  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page experience

PPC management

At the opposite end of the scale, the best possible quality score is 10/10 where all of the factors record ‘above average’

PPC management

The resulting box will also show if your ads are currently being shown right now. Even with a perfect quality score, your ad may still be not being shown currently. In this example ‘another creative in the ad group was selected over this one’. Quality score is a good guide and tool to help you manage your keywords but should not exclusively determine your actions.

PPC management

My quality score is missing

It takes time for the campaign to gather enough data to assign a quality score to any keyword. Rather than assign an arbitrary 5/10 as a mid point, instead the quality score remains undetermined until it can be assessed. When hovering over the bubble in the keywords tab you may see this explanation:

PPC management

Does a better quality score matter?

Yes! A higher quality score represents a ‘successful’ ad as measured by it’s history. The assumption is that if a click has performed well up to now, it will continue to do so and the system is set up to reward those interactions in which customers  look for something, choose to click in and then find relevant material at the resulting webpage. A lower cost and a higher ad position can result.

ppc management goals

How can you act on the information?

Make checking the quality scores a regular part of your PPC review strategy. Understand which keywords are seen to be performing well and see if they have something in common like particular wording or a specific landing page that is giving above average customer experience. Use that knowledge to help improve your keywords with poor quality scores or focus in on the best performing keywords by suspending some of the terms which are not performing well.


The bottom line

If you are measuring conversions in your campaign and they represent genuine leads then that rightly should take top priority in your strategy. Even if you are seeing a poor quality score, if a keyword is generating conversions then it makes sense to only make changes if your CPC is too high. A campaign with multiple keywords scoring 10/10 is not the goal – the goal is to connect with new customers. Quality score can guide your attention and efforts to improve the overall quality of your campaign but it is only one of the indicators you should be managing.

If you are looking to start a new PPC campaign, contact us today info@trulium.com

PPC Negative Keywords

PPC Negative Keywords are a way to exclude search terms or words which could cause your ad to show but are not relevant to your campaign. When running a Pay Per Click campaign the goal is to reach the optimal  target audience and connect with potential clients. If your ad is reaching a sector which you are not appealing to, it may be for a good reason. One reason could be ambiguity in your keywords. For example, perhaps you sell fishing nets and consumers looking for your product are searching for ‘nets’. Instead of fishing nets, they may be searching for soccer nets, the latest result for the Brooklyn Nets, mosquito nets or butterfly nets.

ppc negative keywords

This has a negative effect on your campaign for several reasons:

  • You are paying for each click
  • Every click is spending a portion of your daily budget and therefore potentially stopping the ad running to reach someone else
  • When someone clicks into your ad and doesn’t see what they expect, they are more likely to flag a reaction of a poor ‘landing page experience’ which will contribute to a lower quality score and therefore potentially a higher Cost Per Click (CPC) in the future.

There is a feature within ad words to help with this – negative keywords.

After spending so much time finding the keywords you need to reach your niche market, it’s important not to overlook this facet of the campaign.

If you have different ad groups under one campaign you have a choice:

  • Apply negative keywords to the entire campaign
  • Apply negative keywords at the ad group level

Negative Keyword formats

Broad Match Negative Keywords should be entered with synonyms, plurals and other variations – these are entered as words. Example:  soccer mosquito mosquitoes

Phrase Match Negative Keywords should be entered within quotation marks and will block the ad from showing if the exact term or a similar term is searched on. Example: “Mosquito nets” (which will block ‘mosquito nets’, ‘buy mosquito nets’, ‘mosquito net sale’).

Exact Match Negative Keywords should be entered within brackets and will cause the ad not to show if the exact term is entered. Example: [Butterfly Nets]


How to Find Negative Keywords

You know your good keywords and may already know some terms you want to add as ‘negative keywords’. If not, help is on hand.

Within your PPC campaign, click on Keywords and then the tab ‘negative keywords’. Here you will see  two columns – the first for ad group level and the second for campaign level. If the columns are empty then no negative keywords are currently set. When either column is empty, there is a clickable link to ‘find negative keywords now’ step by step. Clicking on this link will take you through the following process:

  • Click on the Search Terms tab – this shows the actual search strings entered by the people who then clicked into your ads
  • Scan through the list and select any terms which you know are not your potential clients – they are your unwanted search terms
  • Click on ‘add as negative keywords’
  • Click on ‘save’

As with all changes to your PPC campaign, you should carefully monitor the impact of adding negative keywords and amend the list as required. The ultimate aim is to maximize your ROI (return on investment) and focus the campaign to reach the right people at the right time.

If you need help identifying negative keywords for your campaign or are looking to start a new PPC campaign, contact us today info@trulium.com

Pay Per Click Advertising Myths

If you’re thinking of dipping your toes in the Pay Per Click waters, it can seem like a scary prospect. It seems a bit like a club and you don’t know the membership rules. PPC advertising is not for everyone but it does deliver results – fast. We are looking at a few myths to help debunk some of the chatter.

Set it up and you’re good to go

Technically speaking, you could set it up and walk away. Set up your campaign and keep your fingers crossed. The more experience you get with pay per click advertising however, the more obvious it becomes that there is a massive difference between a PPC campaign and a successful PPC campaign. If your goal is to tick a box and spend money on getting clicks, then it can be a very quick process. If your goal is to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ and run an optimized campaign, you need to put the work in and check results, tweak keywords, strategically pause adgroups at times, monitor closely your CPC (cost per click) and weigh the merits of your campaign components to make sure you are getting the results you want for your investment. If you don’t have the time or the knowledge to dedicate to your campaign, there are companies who can do this for you.Pay per click advertising dilemma

It costs a fortune

It can cost a lot of money, especially if you are looking to run ads in a niche which is highly competitive and carries a high CPC however YOU set your daily budget so there needn’t be any nasty surprises. Plan ahead, work out your investment strategy and make a start. The campaign can be paused or stopped at any time and your spend is front and center on the displays so you don’t have to go digging around to find out your costs. Consider also that if you are running a seasonal campaign or are looking to get a jump start for your business, PPC need not be a long term plan. It can be a short term investment.

PPC Advertising doesn’t help with SEO

OK – I’m going to reword this a bit and say that PPC certainly can give you leads towards your SEO efforts. In addition to all the analytics and tools used to improve your site’s SEO, the statistics gathered in a PPC campaign – particularly the ‘impressions’ – can be another piece in the SEO toolkit to help hone in on the search strings and keywords your potential clients are using. In addition, because the PPC campaign has very flexible geographical targeting capabilities, you are finding the keywords used specifically in the area you are targeting. This data can then be used to validate or tweak your site SEO.


Trulium can help you with your PPC campaign. Contact us today if you’re ready for a change: info@trulium.com

5 Reasons PPC may not be right for your business

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Pitfalls

PPC – or Pay Per Click advertising can be a highly effective marketing strategy however there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to success in business. In this blog we explore 5 of the most common reasons why launching a PPC campaign may be a costly venture, without the return on investment you hoped for. There are always exceptions, but there are products and services which typically should be wary of committing the budget to PPC advertising.

Your profit margin per transaction is low

PPC advertising can be expensive. Advertising may drive potential clients to your website, but each click does not equal a sale. Your profit margin needs to be enough that it pays not only for the successful clicks that led to transactions, it has to cover the cost of all the other clicks which didn’t result in a sale. It’s a balancing act – clearly if your average profit per client is in the order of thousands of dollars, then PPC could be perfect for you. Where is your cut off margin and how much is each click likely to generate for your business?


You don’t have the expertise or the time to set up the campaign

PPC advertising as a strategy can be powerful, but only if you are able to hone in on the keywords that work for you and the geographical area you are best targeting. Setting up a national campaign when you are local service will result in ‘wasted’ clicks, costing you money without realizing any sales. Setting up the campaign takes research and patience. Once established, the campaign then needs to be monitored and assessed, with adjustments made as required to maximize the value you are getting for your dollars spent. If you don’t have the tools to help you or the time for ongoing assessment, PPC could be an expensive gamble.


You need to be ready now

PPC clicksWhen PPC works, it works well. As soon as you enable that campaign, you have to be ready for the increase in traffic to your website. Don’t set up the campaign a month early to try and create a buzz about an ‘upcoming product’, that will lead to disappointed customers who will then be less likely to revisit your site even when you are up and running. Customers shopping online who are ready to commit are not going to wait for you.


Your customers don’t shop online

PPC blogEveryone shops online, don’t they? Well, maybe most – but not for all products. An example might be a farmers market – customers typically would go along to see what looks good on that day. Produce and selection may change not only seasonally but on a day to day or even an hour to hour basis. If your customers are not searching online, don’t invest in PPC. In this instance an online presence providing location and hours may be all that is required.


You’re a small fish in a big pond

PPC costs vary and if you are a retailer competing in a highly competitive field, each click may cost more than you are prepared to pay. You could look at ‘long tail keywords’,  strings of several words which might target your clients but are not as generic as the more expensive shorter keywords, however this will take clear focus, research and time.


If you’re struggling with your current PPC campaign or are looking to explore pay-per-click advertising for your business, contact us today  info@trulium.com  or visit our PPC services page