Why You Need A Negative Keyword Strategy

Keyword strategy can be overwhelming—especially in a saturated market like multi-family housing. When attempting to capture and appeal to your ideal consumer, establishing an effective keyword strategy is crucial. It needs to balance bidding on the right keywords with filtering unwanted traffic out. The latter is your negative keyword strategy.

A successful negative keyword strategy excludes keywords that match irrelevant search queries. For example, if you’re targeting people looking for apartments in Denver, and noticed “apartments near Boulder” in your search terms report, “Boulder” would be a negative keyword to consider.

Implementing negative keywords with use of the search terms report prevents ads from showing to users who are searching for related items and can be implemented both on the campaign and ad group level.

Understanding Different Negative Keyword Types

Similar to traditional keywords that you want your ad to appear for, different match types pertain to negative keywords: exact, phrase, and broad. Keeping these match types in mind will help you determine what types of negative keywords you need. Then, you can closely examine the search terms report and begin to implement strategy—more on that later.

Negative Exact Match

Negative exact match prevents ads from showing if the search includes the exact keyword in the exact same phrasing. So, if you exclude “apartments near Orlando,” your ad may show in search results for “apartments near Tallahassee” or “Orlando apartments,” but it will not show for the term “apartments near Orlando.”

The purpose of this is to remove very specific search terms that may be entirely irrelevant to your product audience.

Negative Phrase Match

Negative phrase match prevents ads from showing if the search includes the exact same keywords in the exact order. However, searches can contain additional words. For example, if your negative keyword is “apartments for rent,” your ad may show for “apartment rent,” but it will not show for “apartments for rent near me.”

You might use phrase match negative keywords when you want to specify the exact phrase you want to remove within a search term.

Negative Broad Match

Negative broad match will prevent ads from showing if the search includes all negative keywords no matter the order, but it will show ads if the search only contains a few negative terms. If your negative keyword is “Columbus apartments,” your ad can show for searches like “2 bedroom columbus” but not for “rent apartments columbus.”

This is a good strategy when you’re looking to remove some terms present in a search, but not all.

How the Search Terms Report Helps Your Strategy

Search terms give us insight into what users are searching to trigger our ads, and the search terms report is a useful tool that can help weed out irrelevant search queries. A good rule of thumb is to keep an eye out for terms that are similar to your keywords but do not apply to what you’re offering.

Adding those terms as negative keywords can benefit the accounts’ overall health in a variety of ways: refining your audience, improving click-through rate, and enhancing lead quality.

Refine Your Audience

Through the use of different keyword match types, you’re able to cast a wide net and attract various users who may be interested in your property. The search terms report helps us understand what users within your target audience are searching and what searches trigger ads as a response.

Overall, this helps us filter through queries and remove any outliers—leaving a polished keyword strategy. In the multi-family housing industry, this will often look like users searching for “four-bedroom apartments” while your property only offers one- and two- bedroom units. In this case, adding “four-bedroom” as a negative keyword would prevent future searches, including this term, from showing your property’s ads. This focuses the campaign on user traffic more likely to engage with one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Improve Click-Through Rate

The steps you take to refine your audience and add negative keywords within the search terms report directly impacts your click-through rate. Once irrelevant keywords have been excluded, this allows your ads to be placed in front of critical users by reducing the number of impressions received with the associated negative term. This means less exposure to users who would be disinterested or less likely to click on your ad—getting you more exposure to those with intent.

Using the example above, users looking for a four-bedroom apartment will no longer be served your ads. This prevents them from interacting with your ad only to realize that your property doesn’t offer what they are looking for.

Enhance Lead Quality

When you ensure ads are placed in front of users we know have intent, you increase the probability of conversions. With a negative keyword strategy in place, you’re preventing unqualified users from completing actions on the site.

Referring back to our original example, people searching for four-bedroom apartments won’t find your property through an ad. This keeps them from bouncing off the site quickly when they find out you don’t have four-bedroom apartments. With the right strategy in place, your ad is more likely to be placed in front of users looking for a one- or two- bedroom apartment, and these users are more inclined to interact on the site, fill out a Contact Form, or call for more information.

Remember This

It’s important to keep a few things in mind while building your negative keyword strategy:

  1. Close variants of a negative phrase will not apply. This means ads can potentially show as a result for searches that include variations of the negative.
  2. Instead of excluding an entire search, look for specific terms that apply. Analyze the search terms report to determine which specific terms will get you the best results.
  3. Choose your negative keywords carefully. Too many negative keywords can be a disadvantage and prevent you from reaching key prospects.

In Summary

Understanding how negative keywords work and creating a strategy using the search terms report can help you make informed decisions and effectively target your audience. Using the information provided in the search terms report and being aware of negative keyword types helps you implement a strategy that can refine your audience, improve your click-through rate, and enhance lead quality.