Why Negative Keywords Can Be Positive ROI

February 17, 2014

A typical global SEO strategy usually focuses on positive keywords and ads related to a product or service, and eventually the localization of these keywords for other markets. While keywords are essential for an online search, you want to ensure that you use the best keywords to end up in the top search results, in front of the right customers; otherwise, the search is a failure for you and the user. Did you ever think that the right keywords could actually be the wrong ones?

We work with many leading companies and agencies in support of their Global SEO requirements. Negative keywords are very rarely provided to us for localization, normally as a cost-savings measure. This presents a paradox: while trying to keep costs down by not considering the negative keywords, the client may in fact be losing money by being found in unrelated searches that may not convert to a sales opportunity for them.

Planning A Global Campaign

ROI-SEO-KeywordsSearch in global markets is often performed differently than in English (USA). Therefore, a straight translation is not very beneficial for Global SEO / SEM requirements. It requires a true localization process (more information can be found here: Global Search Engine Marketing). Likewise negative keywords must also be localized to be very useful.

Negative keywords will keep users from clicking on your paid ads if they are not really looking for you or your products and services. For example, if you are a web designer you need to consider hundreds of irrelevant keywords to list them as negative. The list of negative keywords might include (jewelry designer, interior designer, etc.) not only that, but you may also need to avoid some other relevant keywords that may not be applicable to your business (e.g, cheap web design, free web design, free web design templates, learning web design, web designer job, etc.).

As you can see, it can be very easy for your ad to appear as a search result when the user's intent was otherwise. You may have just paid for access to a non-customer opportunity that could have been avoided with localization of your negative keywords.

Large companies can have over 1000 products or variations of their products and pay a $1 or more per ad click. For a relatively small price up front they may be able to avoid many thousands of dollars being lost to non-opportunity clicks by localizing their negative keywords when they begin their global campaigns.

Avoid Google Translate

I often hear how companies and even SEO agencies use Google Translate for their Global SEO / SEM campaigns. They use this as it is a free tool. But how much is "free" tool costing these companies for poor search results in their global campaigns. Google Translate is a nice tool for getting a simple translation in return. But for Search, it often does not know the intent, especially for a single word or phrase. It will typically provide a literal translation. For example: In Spanish "Coche" is commonly used for "car", while in Latin America (Argentina), the same Spanish word may be more commonly used for "baby-stroller". So are you looking for people that want to buy a car or a baby stroller?

For more advanced information, you may check our blog post: The Difference between Keywords Translation and Keywords Localization.

Using Google Translate to translate keywords and/or negative keywords can harm your campaign and ROI. If you are an agency you can be more effective for your client by avoiding Google Translate and seeking a professional localization agency that understands search and how to properly localize your keyword and negative keyword lists. Many localization vendors are no better than Google Translate in this regard as they do not understand SEO and merely translate rather than localize for how the search would be performed in a respective market. So review your vendors' process to be sure your investment in localization and global SEO will be effective for the campaign's ROI.

As useful and beneficial are negative keywords in your English language PPC campaigns, please consider localizing them along with your keywords and Ads in your Global SEO / SEM campaigns to make the most of your Global SEM investment.

Further resources on Global SEO and Multilingual Websites

You may gain further insights into SEO localization, multilingual SEO, multilingual PPC and related topics by reviewing previous blogs written by GPI:

You may contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions. You may also request a complimentary Translation Services Quote for your project as well.

Global SEO
Multilingual Keywords, Global SEO, Global SEM

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  • Vic GonzalezOn Feb 24, Vic Gonzalez said:
    Excellent info. You've opened my eyes to this unique situation. Thanks!
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Peter has over 20 years’ experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers including LMI, Berlitz, Welocalize, GPI and Beyondsoft. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.