Improving B2B Paid Search Ad Targeting

Patricia Hursh March 12, 2012

B2B marketers often use paid search for lead generation and customer acquisition purposes. Based on the lifetime value of a customer, many business marketers are willing to pay a significant amount for a PPC-generated lead. Advanced PPC matching technology can be extremely effective to ensure campaigns are highly targeted in order to provide high-quality inquires and leads.

Below are four recommended negative keyword targeting methods that will help you better target your B2B ad campaigns.

Utilize Both Campaign & Ad Group Level Negatives

You can apply negatives at the campaign level or at the ad group level in Google Ads.

Campaign-level negatives apply to every ad group in your entire campaign. Use campaign negatives for broad-based, general, undesirable words, phrases and concepts.

For example, many B2B marketers who are selling high-priced, high-consideration products or services use campaign-level negatives for words like: free, used and cheap.

Ad group-level negatives only apply to a single group of words. I recommend that you use Ad Group negatives for more granular and specific undesirable words and phrases.

For example, if you sell commercial doors, home would be a good negative keyword to add to your Commercial Garage Door Ad Group.

Include All Forms Of The Negative Keyword

When implementing negatives, don’t forget to consider all variations of the keyword. This is the only way to ensure you weed out all undesirable queries. Specifically, I recommend that you:

  •  Include both the singular and plural variations of the negative keyword
  •  Include common misspellings

Actual B2B search query data shows that PPC ads are often times erroneously displayed for commonly misspelled undesirable) keywords. Why? B2B marketers forget to add misspellings to their negative list.

For example, to prevent your ads from showing on search queries that include the word foreign, add the following words to your negative list:

– Forinn

– Forieng

– foriegn

Use Google’s Search Query Tool to find variations, derivatives and misspellings of non-desirable words and phrases.

Include Phrase & Exact Match Negatives

When including negatives, it may be easy to determine several broad match keywords you would want to add (such as “home” from earlier example). But, you should also know that both “phrase” and [exact] match negatives can be included in your Negative KW list(s), which is often a good idea.

Phrase match negatives should be included in “quotes”. These negatives will prevent your ads from being displayed when this phrase is included in a search query (in the exact order).

For example, if you sell commercial pet supplies, add the phrase “denver broncos” as a phrase match negative keyword.

Exact match negatives should be included in [brackets]. Google will not show your ads when someone searches for the exact word or phrase you include as a negative.

  • If you don’t want to run PPC ads to promote a white paper – you can add an exact match negative keyword: [white paper].
  • Or if you’d like to maintain your company as a premium provider, include brackets around keywords such as [bargain][closeout], and [discount].

Include Domain Name Negatives

When analyzing website search queries you’ll likely find several domain names. For non-relevant domains that you don’t want to trigger you ads, add the domain as a negative. Here’s how to do this:

  • Periods (and dashes) are ignored by AdWords, so this domain: will actually be depicted as laptopcomputers com in your search query report. (Notice the space where the period used to be located).
  • Based on how AdWords treats periods, you should use a phrase match negative keyword like this: laptopcomputers com
  • In addition, you should also include a second negative keyword using the period (i.e. – to ensure all desired negative keywords are included.

Target Your Investment

Keyword targeting is extremely important for B2B marketers… especially firms investing a significant amount in lead generation and customer acquisition. When you’re paying $10 – $20 per click and over $100 per lead, you need to make sure the searchers’ intent is aligned with your marketing objectives.

Test these four proven negative keyword methods to improve your PPC ad targeting methods and results.

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Patricia Hursh is the president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing. Today she leads the Client Services division of the agency. She specializes developing digital strategies and full-funnel marketing solutions for B2B companies. Patricia leads multi-functional teams to ensure bottom-line business results for SmartSearch Marketing’s clients.