Below are other articles I've written about search engine marketing, many featuring specific advice for B2B campaigns.

The Importance of Negative Keywords in Search Engine Marketing
Top strategies for using negative keywords to save you money on Google AdWords and Yahoo.

First, we must know what a negative keyword actually is. Google notes that A negative keyword is a kind of keyword that prevents your ads from showing on irrelevant search queries. This means that you can not only define when your ads show up by using keywords, but also when they don't by using negative keywords.

Adding negative keywords to your search engine marketing accounts can save you money, and help your pay per click campaigns perform much better.

This is one of the quickest ways to improve results on your Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing campaigns. It can be one of those 'set it and forget it' deals, or you can aggressively add negative keywords to keep the savings rolling in.

Negative Keyword Examples to Get You Thinking:

  • Car Sales: -lemon, -fraud, -auction, -complaints, -best time, -lease, -tips, -battery
  • Book Sales: -text, -used, -rare, -audio, -review, -phone, -club, -address
  • Business Insurance: -scams, -health, -car, -auto, -international, -agents

But Why Are They Important?

  • Pursue high volume traffic without the risk: Negative keywords allow you to go after high volume search terms without appearing for unrelated searches. If you appear for an unrelated search, your click through rate (and thus ad position and cost per click) can suffer. Plus you could be spending money on clicks that ultimately won't convert because the searcher wasn't looking for a product or service you offer.
  • Don't let you ads show up somewhere that would be harmful to your business! If you sell airplanes, you certainly don't want to appear on a page talking about a horrific plane crash. The same goes for a pet food seller and an article about a recent pet food poisoning incident. There are some things you can research ahead of time, but some may only come up with the winds of change.
  • Help focus your campaigns on your target audience: If you're a B2B company only focused on Fortune 1000 businesses, make sure to use terms like 'small' and 'SMB' as negatives in your campaign. If you're a specialty clothing merchant only selling baby clothes, you may want to include keywords such as 'womens' and 'mens' as negatives.

How to Find the Right Negative Keywords

Research your highest cost keywords using Google AdWords' Keyword Tool. Choose 'Possible Negative Keywords' from the drop down menu to get their help in selecting negatives for your campaigns. You should come up with a list of at least a dozen possible contenders. Other options are: WordTracker (paid subscription) and Keyword Discovery (paid subscription).

A few additional ideas:

  • Think of your business' focus and what type of searchers you don't want to pay for
  • Ask your sales team about the leads they never follow up with, or for a retail organization ask about returns or refunds before the product was shipped
  • Focus your research on your high volume, high cost keywords to keep your costs low
  • Review your search log files (ask an IT person if you don't know what this means) to see if anyone is coming to your site via searches you find undesirable

How to Start Using Negative Keywords on Google AdWords

There are two versions you can pursue: Campaign negative keywords and AdGroup level negative keywords. Except in very specific cases, you can put all of your negative keywords at the Campaign level. Simply navigate to: 'Edit Campaign Negative Keywords' under the Tools menu to enter your keywords. Alternately, you can type your keywords directly into the AdGroup simply by placing a negative sign (-) directly in front of the term.

Additional Tips

Anytime you research new keywords to add to your campaigns, don't forget to do your due diligence to find related negative keywords. It's an easy step that can save you lots of money.

When adding negative keywords to your AdWords account, make sure to save them into a separate file instead of just typing them into the box. That way you can use the same negative keywords across multiple Campaigns more easily.

Don't use your competitor's brand name as a negative keyword, as this can be valuable traffic at low CPCs.

Be careful that your negative keywords don't exclude other options. For the Book Store example above, I could have used the term 'blue' for a negative keyword to exclude searches for the Kelly Blue Book. However, that would also keep people from seeing my ad if they had searched for books about Blue's Clues or The Island of the Blue Dolphin.