5 Ways B2B Technology Companies Can Build PPC Negative Keyword Lists

Running a successful PPC campaign for a B2B technology company goes beyond coming up with a robust set of keywords to bid on. With search queries from potential customers changing at such a fast pace in the industry, it is essential to not only determine when an ad should appear, but also when it shouldn’t.

This is where highly targeted negative keyword lists come into play.

SEO Keyword Mapping

Negative keywords are words and phrases that shouldn’t be associated with a company’s products and services. When negative keywords are added to a PPC campaign, ads will not be served if those words are part of the user’s search query. This will save a company money by avoiding being shown on irrelevant search queries.

With Google’s most recent changes to the match types, it is now more important than ever for technology companies to have a fine tuned, carefully vetted, negative keyword list.

In this blog post, we will be discussing five tactics for developing negative keyword lists that need to be considered for B2B technology companies before launching a new PPC campaign.

Specific Industries

It is essential to understand how to align keyword targets to applicable industry verticals. More than likely, companies are not trying to target every paid search campaign to every type of industry. Understanding specific industries of focus will not only impact keyword bidding, ad copy, and landing pages, but also the negative keyword associated with ad visibility.

For example, if a management planning software vendor is focused on the financial industry, the following keywords should be negative to avoid inaccurate placement:

  • “Real Estate”
  • “Accounting”
  • “Marketing”
  • “Construction”

Current Events

Technology is always changing, especially when it comes to current events. Sudden changes in the news can affect what people are searching for. If the news topic aligns with a company’s keywords, it could lead to a huge jump in impressions, a decrease in CTR, and lots of irrelevant traffic coming to the site.

For example, if a company offers malware protection software for businesses and a new virus attacks, news reporters and non-business-related users will be looking into “malware protection.” The following negative keywords should be added to avoid these users:

  • “What is”
  • “How to”
  • “News”
  • “Articles”

These type of negative keyword themes can limit the number of visitors that are purely information seekers and not necessarily further along the B2B buyer journey.

Competitive Brands

While this should not come as a surprise, having an ad show up for a competitor’s brand name can lead to the following results:

  1. Higher cost per click
  2. Lower average position
  3. Poor CTR

These results are due to poor ad relevance, which can lead to a below average quality score and a significant amount of wasted advertising budget. Without a specific set of tactics to address competitive bidding (IE, proper landing pages, comparative offers, etc), competitor brand names should be added as negative in all campaigns.

Jobs and Employment Seekers

Technology jobs have been on the rise the past few years, as more and more people are excited to enter the field. While this is positive for companies looking to hire, these users could also see ads if the right negative keywords are not added. Examples of these would be:

  • “Career”
  • “Employment”
  • “Hiring”
  • “Jobs”

Similar to the tactics associated with current events, these type of negative keywords also can limit the number of visitors purely looking for information and not associated with the sales funnel.

Geographic Targeting

Not all technology companies can have the widespread reach of Apple or Google. Companies start small and can expand when it’s the right move. In the meantime, it is important that users from non-serviced areas don’t see the ad.

While geographic targeting will help mitigate the amount of traffic from specific states/countries, a comprehensive negative list of states and cities of where a company doesn’t operate is important to implement as well.

For example, if a technology company selling point of sale systems to restaurants doesn’t operate in the east coast, then a negative keyword list needs to be created that includes the following:

  • “Florida”
  • “NY”
  • “Boston”
  • “New Hampshire”

Final Thoughts

The world of B2B technology is large, fast paced, and always changing. Having a nice set of long tail keywords is simply not enough, especially with Google’s recent match type changes. Creating a robust set of negative keywords is essential for avoiding irrelevant clicks and saving money.

This list should be updated regularly to follow the trends in the industry. Like writing ad copy, or choosing the right landing page, understanding a company’s target audience and goals is essential for making the perfect negative keyword list.

Are there other important themes your B2B organization has used to fine tune a PPC negative keyword list? Reach out to us on Twitter or LinkedIn to share your thoughts and perspective.

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John Yeung — John Yeung, Digital Marketing Manager, Stratford University

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