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How Negativity in Adwords Can Yield Positive Results

The challenge of Paid Search/Adwords can be quickly dismissed once one realizes the incredible possibility of impressive results.

There are many educational resources for “would-be Adwords experts” along with plenty of tutorials, agencies, and expert-trainers who can be hired. However, in my experience, the only real way to master Adwords is to dive right in and start building campaigns yourself.

Mazda Adwords Changes


This tutorial isn’t going to teach you the basics of Adwords, SEM, or any other entry-level approach to Paid Search Marketing. Instead I’m going to focus on the area of Adwords that in my opinion is the most overlooked and can really be the deciding factor between relevancy and completely unrelated traffic.

It can be the difference between generating a lead or generating a bounce. It affects your quality score, ad relevancy, the frequency your ads are shown and perhaps most importantly YOUR WALLET.

That’s right boys and girls today we’re going to learn about Negative Keywords. How to find’m, how to select’m, and how you can use them to avoid gaining the attention of those who have no intention of buying your products, using your services, or even interacting with you in any way.

The methods I am going to reveal to you are unquestionably Best Practices. Let’s begin!

For this example, I am going to use a brand that in my opinion poses one of the most difficult challenges to use SEM advertising effectively on. The brand… Mazda. Zoom! Zoom!

The route of problems with SEM and the Mazda brand are directly correlated to the fact that half of the vehicles this particular OEM sells carry the brand name “MAZDA” in the model name(s) – Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda5, Mazda6. So, if you have any intention of displaying model-specific ads based on Search queries to your target audience, negative keyword selection needs to rank high on your list of priorities. This is especially true when you consider that no one is seriously considering the purchase of a “New Mazda 3” is searching for the number “3” and if they are and you’re bidding on it… shame on you!

**Check Point** This is information Dan could send a bill for, but hey – we’re feeling generous today because Jeff took a tumble on the bike trail and hit his head. 🙂

This is the process I strongly recommend that you start on a Campaigns that already exists. This logic stems from my belief that in order to create a truly kick ass adwords account you must start with untamed Advertising blocks and slowly methodically whittle them down (over time) into heavily optimized Campaigns > Adgroups > Keywords > Ads.

Keyword Selection

In order to get the full benefit, it’s essential that you separate your desired model keywords from your suppressed model keywords correctly.

In the case of Mazda, I recommend using broad match modifiers for the desired keyword list as much as possible. For example, if you are running ads for the New 2014 Mazda3, break this keyword phrase out into a few variations +New +Mazda +3; +New +2014 +Mazda +3 ; +New +Mazda3; +New +2014 +Mazda3. This will really hone in your traffic and increase the likelihood that your ads are only being displayed to people who:

  1. Are really, and truly interested in the Mazda3 vs. other Mazda models.
  2. The traffic is comprised more heavily of in market shoppers.

At the end of the day who really cares how many eyeballs see your ad? I’m more concerned with relevant eyeballs with their heart and wallet dead set on purchasing the models I offer.

Negative Keyword Selection

Now this is where your advertising chisel comes out, especially in the case of SEM. For a Mazda dealership you’re going to want to make sure you reduce the amount of Model Marketing Overlap. To do this you must, in addition to selecting negative keywords to suppress your ads from searches like  ‘Mazda +service’, ‘Mazda +repairs’, and ‘Mazda +history’, supply keywords that block all non-Mazda3 ads from being triggered without fully suppressing ads for the Mazda3. Believe me this is harder than it may seem.

First, I recommend blocking exact matches for [Mazda] as it’s way too vague. The searcher could be looking for practically anything.

Next, you need to be sure to include broad match-modified keywords and their variations for example: +Mazda +2; and +Mazda2, you’ll want to do this for every non-Mazda3 model.

[highlight color=”#F0F0F0″ font=”black”]HINT: Using Excel spreadsheets with Find and Replace or (even better) Adwords Editor can really help you speed up this process.[/highlight]

Use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool

I can not stress the importance of this powerful tool enough! After going through and doing your best to eliminate all irrelevant queries from showing your ads the only true test (really the only intelligent way to perform a true test) is to use Ad Preview and Diagnosis found under the tools tab in the navigation.

First, set your location to where you want to show up for the model your looking to test ad relevancy on.

Next, plug in several different searches and see if any of them spark the incorrect ads or less-relevant ads to fire.

Make any and all adjustments and continue to test throughout the month not just on the day you added your new Negative keywords. Otherwise you will not know if you took your Adwords negativity too far!

Use the “Search Terms & Auction Insights’ Report

If you’re looking for one of the best ways to better understand how well you’ve optimized your Adgroups and all elements that make them up, look no further than the Search Terms report found in the keywords section under ‘Details’. No where else will you find exactly what searches generated your ads to show, how many clicks those searches provided, and if set them up correctly, how many conversions these searches provided. From this screen you can also add searches you don’t find to be in keeping with your advertising goals to your negative keyword lists, as well as, add keywords that hadn’t occurred to you to your desired keyword lists. Pretty Sweet, Huh? 

You can use the Auction Insights report to help you determine whether or not the cost of a certain keyword or advertising approach is worthwhile based on what it costs, how many times your ads show up and at what percentage. It also gives you the ability to see if your competition is trying to be a player for that keyword.

I can’t stress this enough. If you’re using a “set it and forget it” Adwords approach or just “leaving it up to your agency and or vendor to handle”- YOU ARE MISSING OPPORTUNITIES, WASTING MONEY, and LETTING YOUR BETTER SEM-VERSED COMPETITION WALK ALL OVER YOU!

Smart dealerships get involved in their SEM efforts. They’re asking questions, self training, and getting better results.

My only questions is why haven’t you joined the party? 

Dan Mondello is a true “Car Guy” – his first word (as a baby) was “Vehicle” and while in college Dan worked part time as a Corvette Restorat...