When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) a lot of time and effort is put into what keywords that companies and brands want their websites to show up for. Whether it be software, sporting goods or cleaning supplies, every industry has specific keywords that are necessary to show up for in order to be successful in that niche. Showing up for these keywords can be vital, especially if you have an online-only business and/or are just opening up shop and don’t have the luxury of word of mouth to galvanize your brand.

However, one tactic rarely mentioned (or mentioned far less often than I would like) is the implementation of negative keywords. Quite simply, adding negative keywords to your SEO strategy makes it impossible for your brand to show up for the particular keywords that you select. Much like how the software company wouldn’t want to show up for keywords consistent with the cleaning supplies industry and vice versa.

Once you know what keywords to target regularly (i.e. what you actually want to show up for) you will be able to reverse engineer and set up negative keywords. There is no limit on how many you can set up, and you don’t have to bid on them like regular keywords, since you are actively trying NOT to show up for them. Google Adwords, or whoever you use for your SEO, will simply take you out of the running for these keywords.

The bonus of this is that anyone coming from the wrong places clicking/engaging with your ads will no longer be targeted. Since these people were never real customers anyway, the wittling down will likely improve your conversion rates. It may sound counter intuitive, but once this happens, it will help to ensure that a higher percentage of your engagement are legitimate consumers of whatever it is that you’re putting out there, thus more thoroughly refining your target audience. The longer you have negative keywords in play, the better equipped you will be to catch other keywords that you are still actively showing up for but shouldn’t be. It should also help to give you a better picture of how your real keywords and ads are performing.

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