How Negative Keywords Can Get you Positive Results

All you need to do is combine the perfect keywords in your paid search campaigns with a great quality score and you’ll be rewarded with a number one rank and limitless clicks for your ads.


Ah, if only it were that simple.

If you want to beat your competitors and find the prospects that are most likely to turn into actual students, you also need to include negative keywords in your AdWords campaigns.

What are negative keywords?

They’re words that you specifically choose to filter out the kinds of searches you don’t need or want to pay for. Negative keywords help qualify your leads by eliminating searches that don’t make sense for you. They let Google and other search engines know that some queries aren’t relevant to your school and its programs.

For example, while you may want to attract someone who types a query for medical assistant programs in your state, if they’re looking for “free” medical assistant programs, they’re not for you. And if your programs are campus-based only, then you’d want to exclude prospects looking for “online” programs. And what about that student who might be a good prospect for your truck driving school? Ideally, they’d use long tail keywords like “truck driving schools in my state” and a match made in heaven—or Google—could begin. But if truck is your keyword and you neglect to add negative keywords like rental, custom, purchase, instead of finding students, you’ll find people looking to rent, customize and buy trucks. Not helpful, and it could also be very expensive. After all, you’re paying for those precious clicks.

Use negative keywords in your ad campaigns to qualify your leads and save you money. Filter out terms where you don’t want your ads to appear to ensure that the clicks you get—and pay for—are more likely to be those that really matter to you.

Negative keywords can also save you money by creating more relevant keyword groups that yield higher click-through-rates (CRT). That relevance is viewed favorably by Google and can increase your quality score. Your quality score is tabulated by search engine algorithms and considers multiple factors including CRT, ad text relevance, relevance of keywords to their ad group and the overall performance of your AdWords account. And the higher your quality score, the lower your overall costs.

If you’d like to learn more about running effective AdWords campaigns that help turn prospects into students, contact the HigherEd Geeks at Effective Student Marketing and we’ll show you how.

~Linda Emma