We’re finally in Q4, the most exciting time for conversion-focused advertisers.
While it’s exciting because it’s the time of the year when most sales happen, it can be a pretty tedious time for account management.
Many advertisers shift into a sort of maintenance mode during Q4.
- Account structures are set.
- Tools are in place.
- Experiments have been completed.
- Now it’s just time to sell, sell, sell.
During this time, it’s all about the execution of all the carefully laid plans.
With that, I hope I’m not too late to offer one more script you might want to add to your toolbox. I promise this one will help you recover lost sales, so it’s a good one to try.
Negative Keywords That Block Good Search Queries
The idea for this script came from one of my company’s customers.
It’s simple, Google has a script for finding negative keywords that conflict with positive keywords.
But as we all know, keywords are just a means to get our ads to show for queries so we really should also monitor if our negative keywords are in conflict with high performing queries.
Here’s an example of what the Google script would help identify as a potential issue:
Clearly, if we decided we wanted to show ads for “plasma TV”, it would be bad to have a negative keyword “-plasma” because it blocks ads from showing for that search.
But plasma TVs are kind of a thing of the past, if you believe Google Trends:
So imagine a more likely scenario:
The broad match keyword “flat screen tv” triggered an ad when a user searched for the related “plasma tv”. But someone on the team was looking into their n-grams report and saw the term “plasma” was part of some queries.
They astutely realized that their client no longer sells plasma screens, but rather only LED, OLED, and QLED so they add the negative “-plasma” to the account.
But guess what – that user looking for a plasma TV with incredible blacks came to the site and realized that OLED is just as good and they bought one of those.
The account manager just added a negative keyword that is semantically correct, but it actually would block future searches for a converting query.
So what this script does is simple. It compares negative keywords to queries that have converted.
If a negative keyword might block future conversions, it’s added to a spreadsheet and emailed to you as a report.
Here’s an example of what that report looks like:
By default, the script looks back 90 days so it’s important to put this one on an automated schedule in order not to miss things.
The Google script for finding blocking negatives can be run anytime and tell you about issues because the positive and negative keyword will always exist and be included in reports, even if there are no impressions for the keyword.
This script, on the other hand, looks at queries and those must have impressions in order to be in the reports.
If your negative keyword starts to block a query, that query stops getting impressions and will gradually disappear from reports if you wait too long.
Get the Script
This script has just a few settings:
currentSetting.LAST_N_DAYS = 90
This is used for the report that checks which queries had conversions in the past n days.
If you have a massive account and the script times out, try setting this number lower so that it has to process fewer queries every time.
Also, this number should ideally be in sync with how frequently you run the script automatically. For instance, if you run the script weekly, a 7- or 8-day lookback window suffices and avoids getting notified about things you already fixed last time.
currentSetting.EMAIL = ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
This sets who gets emailed if the script finds blocking negatives.
It is also used to add editors to the Google Sheet with the report so that the people who get the email will also have permission to look at the Google Sheet.
There are a lot of moving parts when managing Google Ads accounts.
It’s easy to accidentally block converting queries with a poorly chosen negative keyword.
Hopefully, this script helps you catch those types of mistakes before they reduce your conversions too much.
Send me a message on Twitter if you’d like to see your idea for a script in a future post.
More Paid Search Resources:
- 3 Scripts for Automating Google Ads Reports in Spreadsheets
- 5 Things You Could Be Automating with Google Ads Scripts
- How to Block Poor Performing Ad Placements in Apps Using a Script
Screenshots taken by author, October 2018