Ultimate Guide to Negative Keywords for Dentists
Dentists, listen up: Every professionally managed Google Ads account should include negative keywords.
If the person, who is managing the ppc campaign for your dental practice, has not yet added negative keywords to your Google Ads account, you may be wasting the majority of your budget on irrelevant search queries.
It is important to understand that negative keywords are one of the most critical parts of successful Google Ads campaigns.
Whenever someone asks me asks me to audit a Google Ads campaign, that they have been running themselves, I most often find the biggest room for improvement in the keywords.
More specifically, significant improvements for most Google Ads campaigns can be found in one of the following 3 areas:
Keywords that are being targeted
Match types of keywords that are being targeted
Read on to learn more about negative keywords and discover some simple but clever strategies on how you can find negative keywords, in order to stop wasting your budget on irrelevant search queries.
How do negative keywords work?
You can think of negative keywords as a bouncer in front of a night club. Just like a bouncer selects who can and can’t enter the night club, negative keywords serve as a tool to indicate to Google when to trigger and when not to trigger your ads on any given search query.
Let’s look at an example for a typical dental Google Ads campaign.
Once I list a few examples below you should start to understand what kind of keyword is worth paying for and how negative keywords can help to make your campaign more effective.
A dentist that is advertising in the UK using the keyword dentist as a broad match in his/her campaign will most likely trigger these types of actual search terms:
- Dentist near me (good)
- Nhs dentist (good)
- Nhs dentist charges (bad)
- dentist salary (bad)
- dentist London (good if you are located in London, bad for all others)
- nhs choices dentist (bad)
- dental costs (bad)
- dental jobs (bad)
- dentist degree (bad)
You can see from these examples that out of the 9 search terms the dentist’s ad would have triggered, only 3 are worth the money.
6 out of 9 search terms are irrelevant and simply a big waste of the available advertising budget.
By adding the following negative keywords we can exclude searches that we do not want our ads to appear for:
Keep in mind that when implementing negative keywords, the best practice is to include both singular and plural versions of each keyword that you want to exclude from your campaigns.
Based on the search terms above you should also add the following negative keywords:
If you know of a word that has common misspellings, you should also include the misspelled keyword to your negative keywords. Google will only exclude a search query if an exact keyword or phrase from that query is on your negative keyword list.
How do I add negative keywords?
Negative keywords can be added in a few different places within the Google Ads account:
Ad group level:
Adding negative keywords on an ad group level, will only exclude searches in the specific ad groups, to which you have added negative keywords.
Adding negative keywords on a campaign level, will only exclude searches in the specific campaigns, to which you have added negative keywords.
Account level / Negative keyword list:
Adding negative keywords to shared negative keyword lists will enable you to implement negative keywords on an account level.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can add negative keywords to your Google Ads campaigns.
The easiest way to add negative keywords to your Google Ads account will be to use the built-in short cuts within the account interface.
Once you are logged in to your Google Ads account simply type in the letters “G T”. This will trigger the “go to” function within your account, where you will be able to specify what it is you would like to do or see.
After you have typed in “G T” a search bar should open up, there you simply type in negative keywords. When you type in “negative” into the search bar,you should be presented with two options:
Negative keyword lists
The main benefit of adding negative keywords on an ad group or campaign level is to be in complete control of when ads get triggered if you are targeting similar keywords in different ad groups or campaigns.
While it definitely is recommended to use these advanced features for negative keywords in a professionally managed Google Ads campaign, this can cause more harm than good if falsely implemented by a non-expert.
That is why in this article I will recommend implementing negative keywords on an account level, using negative keyword lists for anyone, who is not a full-time PPC or Google Ads specialist.
The advantage of adding negative keywords to shared lists is to have all your negative keywords in one place.
This is great, because having all negative keywords in one place makes your life much easier when you want to quickly check which negative keywords you have currently added to your Google Ads account.
By sorting the negative keyword lists alphabetically, you will be able to scan through your list and check whether you have added all obvious negative keywords, both singular and plural versions.
How do I find negative keywords?
Great question. Let’s look at some of the way that you can find negative keywords that you should implement into your Google Ads account.
While none of the following methods will make your account bulletproof to any irrelevant search query, you should be able to block most searches for which you do not want your ads to appear for.
Google estimates that about 15% of search queries that are being typed into the Google search bar each day are unique and completely new queries.
This means that globally, almost a billion new and unique search queries are being typed into Google every single day. This ever growing amount of keyword variations is the main reason why you will never have a 100% complete negative keyword list.
What would you or your team members type into Google?
One of the best generators for negative keywords is your own brain. As a practice owner, dentist, dental practice manager or receptionist you know the industry of dentistry better than anyone.
Think of some obvious keywords that you may want to exclude from your Google Ads account such as: education, degree, salary, jobs, medicine, etc..
Use Google’s own tool the Keyword Planner
When you type in some seed keywords to get suggestions for keywords that you might want to implement in the Google Ads campaigns, you should quickly notice several keywords with significant search volumes that you will want to exclude.
Take out a notepad and a pen and start writing down keywords that you will want to add to a negative keyword list.
Use advanced tools such as SEMrush
While it may not make economic sense for your dental practice to pay for a paid version of one of the premium digital marketing tools, at Profitable Dentistry I make use of SEMrush.
This is one of the best tools on the market and allows me to find keywords that should be added to and / or excluded from Google Ads accounts.
View your search term reports
If you have been running Google Ads campaigns for at least 3-6 months, without adding negative keywords, you should have enough data to find plenty of negative keywords within your account.
Head over to the Keywords tab and click on search terms at the top.
The search term report will show you which actual search queries triggered your ads in the past.
Looking at the search term report can be an eye-opener for anyone who thought he or she knows how to manage Google Ads campaigns. It is not unusual for people to be in a shock when they notice how much money they have wasted on totally irrelevant search queries.
If you are running Google Ads campaigns at the moment, make sure to check your search term report at least once a week, in order to filter out irrelevant search queries and spend your advertising credit on keywords that you actually want to target.
There are multiple benefits to cleaning out your account’s search terms:
- More control over your Google Ads account
- Savings in advertising credit
- Increased click-through-rates
- Increased quality scores due to increased click-through-rates
- Decreased cost per click for keywords due to increased quality scores
Quick tip on how to filter through your search terms:
You have made it through the entire article, so I thought I should reward you with a tip on how to save substantial amounts of money if you have not yet optimized your keywords and search terms.
Open the keyword tab in your Google Ads account and click on search terms.
Now do 3 quick analyses to see what search terms your ads are showing up for and which ones are costing you money without being of any benefit to your dental practice.
Sort the search term report by Cost
Here you will see which search terms have used up the most advertising credit, e.g. which search terms have cost you the most money.
If you have been advertising on Google for 6 months, 12 months or even longer than that, you may be in for a shock to find that you have possibly wasted hundreds or thousands of pounds / euros / dollars on totally irrelevant search queries.
Sort the search term report by avg. cost / click
Here you will see which search terms have the highest cost per click.
While your account average cost per click may be 1.50 € you will in most cases come across several keywords that have cost you 3 €, 5 €, 10 € even 15 € or more per click.
Make sure to go through the entire list to ensure that you are not throwing money out the window. When you sort by average cost per click, you will typically find search terms with very few impressions or clicks.
Therefore, you might not find them if you sorted by impressions, clicks or cost.
Sort the search term report by impressions
Here you will see which search terms have triggered your ads most frequently. Check if the majority of your search terms with high impression counts are relevant to your business or whether they are irrelevant queries.
In most cases single word or two-word keywords will have the highest impressions, but most likely will not have the highest conversion rates. Removing high impression, low CTR search terms, will help to raise the click-through-rates of your targeted keywords.
Now that you are armed with powerful knowledge on how to add negative keywords, I hope that you will go ahead and start implementing negative keyword lists into your very own Google Ads account.
If you still fill uneasy about the task of managing your own Google Ads account and you don’t want to waste the majority of your advertising spend on irrelevant clicks, I am here to help. Feel free to reach out via e-mail or the contact form and I will be happy to discuss your questions with you.