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How to Identify Negative Keywords for Your SEM Campaign

negative keywordsWhen it comes to your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy, choosing the right keywords can make or break a campaign. From the content you create to the ads you publish, every asset should center around a core list of keywords that align with your target audience's needs.

Whether you're new to running SEM campaigns or consider yourself a seasoned pro, you've likely spent a great deal of time considering what keywords will drive the most clicks and conversions. But what about negative keywords? That is, the keywords you don't want to rank for.

Let's take a look at how a negative keyword list can help improve the success of your SEM efforts.

How Do Negative Keywords Work?

You know what your ideal prospect looks like. From their age range and budget to their interests and lifestyle, you can likely paint a clear picture of this persona. But what about an ill-fitting prospect? That is, someone who isn't likely to convert because your product isn't relevant to them?

Negative keywords can help reduce the chances of your ads being shown to people who aren't likely to convert, ultimately helping you spend your SEM budget more effectively and generate better leads.

What Does a Negative Keyword Look Like?

This keyword concept can be a little tricky. A reason why, according to HubSpot, is because up to 24 percent of advertisers don't use it.

While the concept seems complex, it's actually pretty simple. Let's say you run a bakery specializing in custom cakes, and you don't sell any other products. In that case, you may want to add words like "donuts," "bagels," "muffins" or "cupcakes" to your negative keyword list. This way, if someone was searching for "donuts near me," your shop's ads wouldn't be triggered.

Choosing a Negative Keyword

To determine the negative terms you should include in your campaign, start with your standard keyword list. Are there any modifiers that a search engine user could add to any of these words or phrases that would change the meaning to something other than the products or services you offer?

For example, let's say you own an appliance store and one of your keywords is "front-loading washing machine." You might add the phrase "used front-loading washing machine" to your negative keyword list if you only sell new products, or "front-loading washing machine repair" if you don't offer that service.

By making a negative keyword strategy part of your SEM process, you can help drive more relevant (and better-qualified) searchers to your offerings and increase the likelihood of a conversion.

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