Marketing is a tricky game. You aren’t just trying to broadcast your ads to everyone who can possibly see it. Instead, you want to get your message to interested parties. We want real leads and in PPC we want clicks that are going to lead to conversions. We are paying for those clicks after all.
To weed out the garden and keep your add showing up for irrelevant content or uninterested searchers, Google AdWords offers negative keywords. Not only can you designate the terms you want to bid on, but also the search terms that are likely to result in wasted clicks.
Some write off the importance of properly setting up your negative keywords. They underestimate how often people click the top results without actually checking to see what the result is, even when it’s an ad. Google doesn’t exactly try to obviously differentiate ads from regular results, and anyone can just click the top result. If your ad is irrelevant to them, you just wasted money on that ad.
Those who ignore or underestimate the importance of negative keywords tend to assume it is rare for searchers to blindly or accidentally click the top link, even when it’s not relevant to them. The group from Search Laboratory recently ran an experiment in the form of a Bruce Springsteen themed ad to show the exact opposite.
When Springsteen was set to perform at the Leeds Arena, they set up ads for the keywords ‘Bruce Springsteen’, ‘Leeds Arena’, ‘tickets’, and ‘reviews’ with a little play on the song title Born to Run. The ad was simple and clearly humorous, and it was very up front that the company is an SEO & PPC business.
They break down their results in a little more detail on their page, but simply put, the CTR was over 2% on an average position of three. It isn’t a perfectly scientific study of the effect, but it is pretty clear that they received quite a few clicks from people that were almost certainly not looking for PPC or SEO services. It highlights the need to get your negative keywords right and make sure your ads are shown to the interested markets, not just random people.