Negative Keywords for software ads

Are you using negative keywords in your Google ads? You probably are. But are you taking full advantage of this powerful way to cut costs and increase click through rates? I know I sure wasn’t. Of course I was using some obvious negative keywords like: free, freeware, crack and serial. But that was all.

Lately I have been investigating the use of negative keywords (again after listening to Perry‘s interview with two dudes from Epiar.com). Currently, I have hundreds of negative keywords in each campaign. How I found them is another story, maybe I will write about that later.

Today I just want to give you a list of negative keywords specific to selling software. Simply add them to all your Adwords campaigns (and Yahoo Ads for that matter) and immediately save money and increase click through rates.

Freeware

First, you probably don’t want visitors looking for free stuff. Of course, if your software is great, you can probably convince some of em to buy, but in general it isn’t worth paying money for that kind of visitors. So here’s my list of anti-freeloader negatives:

free
freeware
gratis
kostenlos
gratuit
“public domain”
“open source”

Cracks

Then, there’s another type of “bad” visitors: people looking for cracked or pirated software. You definitely don’t want to pay for their clicks, as your chances of converting to sales are next to nothing. Here’s how I prevent my ads from being shown to pirates:

crack
cracks
cracked
crackz
key
key gen
keygen
keygens
key gens
key generator
key gens
keygenz
“registration key”
“license key”
pirated
pirate
patch
patches
rapidshare
rapid share
serial
serials
serialz
wares
warez
unlock
unlocking
hack
hacked
hacks
password
torrent
torrents
torrentz
bittorrent

Platforms

If you are selling Windows software only, you don’t want visits from users specifically looking for Mac software. Luckily, Mac users tend to append “mac” or “apple” to their searches when looking for software, it helps them weed out Windows apps from their results. So, let’s help them by removing our ads too. And while we’re at it, why not avoid clicks from linux nerds too. Add these as negatives to your campaigns:

mac
macintosh
apple
osx
“os x”
linux
freebsd
unix

If you sell Mac software only, then things are more difficult. Those arrogant Windows users simply refuse to add “windows” to their software searches. Adding negatives like “windows”, “win” and “microsoft” may kill a few impressions, but you will still get loads of clicks from Windows users. Clicks that cost you money but will never result in sales. The only thing you can do is make it absolutely clear from your ad that your software is Mac only, e.g. add “Mac Only” to your ad body. Our mac-only competitors at Delicious Monster even have it in their ad headline: “Fun Mac Library Software”.

Web apps and mobile apps

This is getting more popular lately, people specifically searching for a web-based or mobile solution. If you don’t have a web-based or mobile version of your software, I suggest you create one as soon as possible and then start converting those clicks. Of course, that may take “some” time :-)
In the meantime, get rid of those hip “web two point oh” folks using these negative keywords:

online
“on line”
webbased
web based
web
internet
net
iphone
mobile
pda

Programmers

You probably know one or two personally :-) The type of computer user who doesn’t buy software because he prefers to just program it himself. Admirable of course, but the problem with these guys is that they search Google looking for sample code, open source projects, etc… Let’s not show our ads to them. Add these as negatives:

c++
delphi
php
flash
xml
visual basic
ajax
vb
api
excel
java
code
source
template
templates
model
example
sample
xls
xsl
sheet
schema
project

Selling database apps like we do? Then you may want to add these too:

access
“ms access”
mdb
filemaker
fox
spreadsheet
mysql
dbase
sql

Too broad

If you are advertising for software, then you are probably using the words “software” and “program” in many of your keywords. Which is fine, but if you are using broad matching you run the risk of Google showing your ads on searching for just “software” or “programs”. This will only happen when you have high click through rates, but still, you want to avoid those at all costs.
But how to negate those impressions? Adding “software” as a negative keyword is not a good idea, because people using the word “software” combined with your main keywords probably are your best prospects. The trick here is to add exact match negative keywords:

[software]
[program]
[programs]
[shareware]

Competitor brands and product names

This is a tricky one. Searchers typing a competing product name into Google are typically hard to convert, as they already have a specific product or website in mind (and it’s not yours). On the other hand, these folks are more or less exactly your target audience, as they are looking for your type of product.

Now… what to do…. do we add competitor brands as negative keywords or do we advertise on them, adding them as “positive” keywords?
Well, I do both. I have added them as negative keywords to my regular campaigns and I have created a separate campaign where I specifically advertise on them.
This lets me set separate ads and separate bids (lower ones) for those keywords, keeping my regular campaigns clean.

One warning though: be careful with using competitor brand names in your ad copy. Often this is not a problem, but if the brand is trademarked and registered at Google, your ad may get disabled for trademark violations.

So there it is, my list of generic software related negative keywords. I recommend to add them at the campaign level, just open a campaign, use the link at the top for adding/editing negative keywords, then just copy/past the keywords in. If you do decide to add them at the ad level, don’t forget to add minus signs!

Finally, if you have ideas for other negative keywords specific to the software business, please post them below.

5 thoughts on “Negative Keywords for software ads

  1. Pingback: 150+ Negative Keywords for Software Selling AdWords Campaigns | Avangate Blog - Software Sales Tips | Software Business Blog

  2. Thanks so much. This is a great article. I just took over the PPC for a software company who had zero negative keywords and this was a big big help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>