Most sports fan watched the NFL playoffs over the past few weeks and got to enjoy some really competitive, entertaining football.  While I too enjoyed that, the SEM geek in me saw something else.

What a great example of the need for negative search terms in your SEM campaigns!

I was not planning on writing about SEM best practices this week, but here is a quick post on the importance of using negative keywords in your campaigns.

One of the story lines this NFL playoffs has been the Denver Broncos march to the Super Bowl, led by future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning.  For those out there unfamiliar with Peyton Manning – well, the rest of the football part of this story will probably be lost on you – please bear with me as I will get to an SEM lesson .

Manning is known for being one of, if not the, smartest quarterbacks in football.  More so than anyone else playing his position, Manning calls his team’s plays and has the authority to change these plays at the last second .  As the teams line up for the snap, Manning is always heard screaming out instructions to his team – these “audibles” are hollered in a short-hand code to save time, and hopefully disguise the intentions of the play to the opponent.

No term was heard more frequently or clearly than “Omaha” – by one person’s count it could be heard 44 times during last week’s game. (If you care enough to understand what it actually means to the players, just search on Google or Youtube and you will find a host of explanation)

Anyway, the term “Omaha” started trending big-time.  Below is from Google trends for the last 12 months– note the January 2014 spike in “Omaha” searches.


OK, so what does this have to do with SEM?

Let me start off by saying that I do not work with Omaha Steaks and never have.  They have always been strong marketers so they are probably already on top of this. But if not, here is my free advice:

–          Immediately go into your branded account and make sure you are setting up as many negative terms as you can think of.  Here is a list to start you off, starting with Google Trends and adding a few more

  • Peyton Manning
  • Peyton
  • Payton Manning
  • Payton
  • Manning
  • Audible
  • [Omaha call]
  • “Omaha play”
  • Football

Why set up negative keywords?  Remember, the goal of SEM is not to get the most impressions – this is not a branding vehicle.  You want to get as many qualified clicks as possible.

If someone searching for a term like “Football Audible Omaha” is presented with a result for Omaha Steaks (entirely possible assuming they are bidding on a broad match basis for the term “Omaha”):

–          Any clicks will be so unqualified (probably mistaken clicks) that conversion rate will be extremely low.  In other words, a waste of marketing funds

–          The click-through rate will probably be so low that it could negatively affect both the keyword and ad group going forward (remember click-through rate is part of the placement algorithm – low click-throughs indicate that the ad is not relevant, causing either the CPC to rise)

Anyway, that’s my short story on how SEM lessons can even come from watching a Sunday football game 🙂

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