Do you want to double your ad spend in one easy step?

This article is for you.

Let’s talk about negative keywords. When you are running a Google or Bing campaign, you have the option to define negative keywords.

Within the keyword broadness spectrum, keywords are things like “limo service” or “limo.” It could be one word or five words. These are loaded into your account. When keywords are triggered or activated, your ad gets shown. Negative keywords do the opposite.

Keywords = Show Ads
Negative Keywords = Don’t Show Ads

Negative keywords communicate to Google: “when someone searches for this, don’t show my ad.”

Use Negative Keywords in Your Ad Account

Adding negative keywords to your account is very simple and very effective. You can add a huge volume of negative keywords. This laser-focuses your ad spend, avoiding unnecessary triggers that would deliver ads to the wrong viewer. Essentially, this practice ensures that your ad doesn’t show up for people who are searching for things outside of your service.

In the limo industry, negative keywords can have a huge impact. You can start small but it’s highly recommended that you scale your negative keyword strategy as quickly as possible. The negative keyword list can be built up into the thousands. Best practice for building negative keywords could be a list of 2,000-4,000 words. You should add new negative keywords each week.

How to Add Negative Keywords

When you click on keywords (left side of the screen on Google, mid-screen on Bing), you’ll select “see search terms.”

1. Click on “keywords”
2. Select “see search terms”
3. Pick date range
4. Analyze the data

Getting familiar with search terms helps you market to your buyer persona. This study helps you understand the search queries people are performing that do or don’t trigger your ad. The goal here is to drill down into the search queries that don’t convert for you. Once you identify that, you create a negative keyword entry based on that unproductive search.

Let’s look at it in the real world.

You could find the search query: “taxi to JFK from Brooklyn.”

This search query wouldn’t be ideal, because it would require someone to type that exact phrase in. It also illustrates a non-relevant term that you don’t want to waste money delivering on. Do you see it?

Think about it: what about that search don’t you want to show up for? 

The location is fine. The transportation type is not. Someone who is searching for a taxi doesn’t want to book a limo. So, you would want to extract from this exercise the valuable understanding that you need to eliminate ad spend on the term “taxi.” You do this by entering taxi as a negative keyword in your account.

Keep in mind, keywords are exact. If you add “taxi” as a negative keyword and someone searches for “taxis to JFK from Brooklyn” you may still show up. You need to add “taxis” to your negative keyword list as well. Now you see how your keyword list gets into the thousands. This is simplified by understanding the difference between broad match and exact match. 

keyword targeting limo marketing

Broad Match vs. Exact Match Negative Keywords

As you configure your negative keywords, you will have the option to do so as “broad match” or “exact match.” The category you pick matters. Here’s why.

If you pick keywords for exact match only, the system will only eliminate the exact word or series of words that you input. While building a list in the thousands seems like a hefty task, doing it with exact match would require exponentially more than that. Why? People’s language varies too much to predict.

So, if you have disallowed “taxi” but someone searches for “taxi near me,” that last search will still present your ad. Broad match creates a better catch-all for related words that you may not think to prohibit. It’s a safety net for your strategy.

Keep this in mind:

Even with a perfectly created campaign, you could lose 40-50% of your ad budget. These systems can come with significant risk and feeble ROI. In a Google ad or Bing campaign, 90% of your success will come from:

  1. Keyword selection
  2. Keyword match type
  3. Negative keywords

It’s worth your time to focus on those three things.

negative keyword strategy limo marketing

Negative Keywords for Limo Companies

There are a few kinds of keywords that limo companies should not use. Negative keywords for your limo business include:

ONE: Airport names or codes of places you don’t service

Example: A company in San Francisco has an ad campaign running. One of their keywords is “car service.” Someone from San Francisco is traveling to NY and looks for “NYU car service.” The ad is shown to the searcher. This is a waste because the searcher wasn’t looking for service in that region. That company wasted $4-$5 on that click.

How to avoid this mistake: find the top 300 airports in the world and get their airport codes and common names. Input all irrelevant locations into your negative keyword list.

TWO: Locations you don’t service

Example: Someone is in Arizona and are flying to Florida. The searcher in Arizona looks for “Miami limo service.” They’re on their way to a party. The company in Arizona has the keyword phrase match for “limo service.” They will show up for that search because they are regional but it’s a wasted ad spend because the service isn’t for the right area.

How to avoid this mistake: find the top 500-1,000 cities and input these as negative keywords in your ad account. Beyond a 500 mile radius of your location, plug in all of those locations as negatives.

THREE: Competitors

When someone’s looking for a particular company, they may be looking because they lost the phone number or need to update their reservation. They may not be looking for a quote. Even if they are looking for a quote, ask yourself this question:

Would you rather put your ad in front of…

  1. Someone who’s looking for your service but no company in particular?
  2. Someone who’s looking for your competition?

When you can only choose one, you want to serve your ad to someone who doesn’t have a brand in mind. 

Keep in mind, you need every variation within a competitor’s name. For “Dan’s Limo Service” you need to include things like:

  • Dan’s
  • Dans
  • Dan
  • Danny’s
  • Dann

Even add misspellings, if possible.

FOUR: Common Negative Keywords

You can harvest common negative keywords from websites. Just google it. There are so many different lists that are good negative keywords. Bargain words, like “cheap, discount, low-price.” The goal is to eliminate as many tire-kickers as possible. In any industry that offers price-shopping over the phone, you will get price-shoppers. 

Marketing collateral comes to the forefront here as you use distinctives other than price to separate yourself from the competition.

FIVE: Questions

This last category is implemented on a case-by-case basis. For high-spending accounts, adding questions to your negative keyword lists can enhance performance.

In other words, take these words:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How

While these could be potential leads, the question is: could this be a bad search? Typically, there will be enough people searching for exactly what you’re offering exactly where you’re offering it to achieve your budgeted goals. Whether or not you do this has to do with search volume. In a small market, you need to allow broader criteria. In a large market, you need to add as many negative keywords as possible. 

ad spend negative keywords

Accomplish Ad Goals With Negative Keywords

The goal of negative keywords is to eliminate irrelevant searches. These drain your ad budget and don’t convert leads. There is enough good traffic, you just need to catch the right searchers. We can help you manage your SEO. Want to learn more? Reach out for marketing advice and follow this blog to get the latest content.

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