• Building your list of cheap and free negative keywords

    by  • February 18, 2008 • Keywords, Pay Per Click • 6 Comments

    There are always those people who are looking for things for free… even when you know that what they are looking for isn’t free (looking for a “Free iPod” or “Free XBox” anyone?). But when you are broad matching your PPC campaigns, you want to ensure you aren’t paying for ads when it is the freeloaders looking.

    Here is a list of common freeloading keywords that you can add to your negative keyword list.

    complimentary (and mispellings of the word)
    “free download”
    “free sample”

    If you sell any kind of software or subscription service, you will also want to add these keywords to your negative keyword list too.


    Now, if you are offering something for free, you need to take care that you aren’t actually losing traffic because if this, such as if you are offering a free consultation or free eBook!

    Not sure if you are getting traffic from any of these freeloading keywords currently? If you are using dynamic keyword insertion in your URLs, you will be able to track the exact keywords people are using when they click your ad. So if you are selling iPods or XBoxes, you can see how many of those people were actually looking for free iPods or XBoxes, and not seriously looking to purchase one. People looking for freebies rarely convert, particularly when they are searching for these types of products.

    Cheap can be a tricky one, because in some markets it can work well, but in others it is much harder to convert. If you are selling a service, for example, you don’t necessarily want to be known as “cheap”, especially if customers are paying a premium for your service… if you are good at what you do you can charge a premium for it that someone new or not as well known wouldn’t be able to do. If you are selling a product that you are pricing very competitively, this can be a good converting keyword for you. Remember people who are using the keyword “cheap” are usually shopping around for the best possible price and might hit 4 different advertisers looking for which one is the cheapest. So if you are the cheapest you have a much higher chance of converting… but if you aren’t, this is one you will want to either watch very carefully for conversions or add to your negative keyword list. Bottom line: “cheap” can be successful if whatever you are selling or offering is the cheapest, but people are looking for the cheapest above anything else you can offer and your conversion rate will reflect this.

    Once you have selected which negative freebie keywords you need to add, simply cut and paste it into your PPC campaigns so that you will no longer be serving up broad match ads when they keywords searched for include those words.


    Jennifer Slegg is a longtime member of the SEO community and is an expert on social media, content marketing, Google AdSense and search engines.

    6 Responses to Building your list of cheap and free negative keywords

    1. February 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

      Intresting. “Cheap” is actually a pretty good one in our industry (financial services).

    2. Jenstar
      February 18, 2008 at 10:30 am

      I was talking with an advertiser last week about how “cheap” never converts for him, and one of the points I raised is that if he isn’t the cheapest when compared to the other advertisers, he should either not bid on the keyword or add it to his negative keyword list. If you are the cheapest advertiser – or at least very competitive in the pricing – it can work well. I added a paragraph to the above to reflect this. I should have clarified it when I wrote it originally!

    3. February 19, 2008 at 9:38 am

      […] I stumbled upon an excellent post regarding building a negative keyword list for ‘cheap’ & ‘free’ pay per click keywords over at Jennifer Slegg’s Blog. […]

    4. Pingback: Ant Onaf SEO Blog » A Good Tip on Building You Negative Keyword List

    5. November 21, 2008 at 7:52 am

      Great examples. The list should be as long as you can make it. Its not unheard of to have 1000’s of negative keywords. As this can produce great results.

    6. Pingback: Negative Keywords are Positively Fantastic for ROI | Acquisio Search Blog

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