In Part 1 we explored some ideas for negatives in the search arena; today, we’ll explore some areas beyond that realm, including what we should do about the myriad sites competing on the search-term “Satan.” Read along…if you dare.


Lesson 4: Don’t forget you can exclude sites, too.

Remember: The point of negative keywords is to filter irrelevant traffic, not all traffic.”

This doesn’t so much concern the search network as it does the display network; there’s a lot of products and businesses – from speakers to books to games to car dealerships – named “Acheron.” Now if we’re running a display campaign, we can exclude our display ads from running on those irrelevant sites. Let’s focus on car dealerships, as I imagine many gamers, electronics enthusiasts, and librarians probably would love guided tours of Hell (and car dealers would probably be more appropriate as one of the tour highlights). If we navigate to the shared library in our account, select “campaign placement exclusions,” and click the “+ List” button, we could then add, say “” and “” – sites that focus on rentals – to list of excluded sites.

Devilish PPC

Malabranche, Malebolge, Phlegethon, etc. – and Ciampolo

Granted these don’t have much search volume, comparatively, to begin with, but you can probably guess what the bulk of searches focuses on: Dante scholars (or, more likely, English students with a paper due in three hours). And you may be congratulating yourself on predicting an irrelevant group of searchers; Hey, I could add “term papers,” “scholarly articles,” “write my essay, for the love of God! I have a scholarship at stake” etc. as negatives and weed these people out!

Lesson 5: Don’t go overboard.

So maybe these searchers aren’t looking for guided tours of Hell when they type in “term paper on Malabranche,” but don’t be too hasty – after all, they already have an interest in Dante and Hell – don’t they seem like the ideal people for our product? And to that point, poor Ciampolo receives only a meager 10 searches a month – too many negatives, and that your ads may never show for that keyword. Remember: The point of negative keywords is to filter irrelevant traffic, not all traffic. Let them run first and see how they perform – you may pick up quite a few conversions!


And now the big guy. And it seems like everyone wants to capitalize on his name – churches, bands, costumers, what have you – what’s the poor devil to do? Fortunately, the Keyword Planner says that competition for this term is low, and since it’s a branded term, this particular keyword should have a fairly high quality score. As would his various aliases: Lucifer, Scratch, the Devil, Toby, etc.

But we want to be really evil.

bald business man screaming in crisis at computer from pressure watching Satan trademark his name

Lesson 6: Don’t Be Evil.

Nuts to that! Were I Satan, I’d trademark the Hell out of my name and then send Google a flood of formal complaints to any AdWords account mentioning it – even without the complaint, those ads may receive limited eligibility to run, and with the complaint, it could even lead to those accounts’ suspension! Muahahaha!


Okay, so maybe non-evil digital marketers can ignore the trademark recommendation for Satan; nevertheless, the other rules (handily summed up) should apply:

  • Lesson 1: Keywords may not just refer to your target audience.
  • Lesson 2: If there’s overlap, identify a common theme.
  • Lesson 3: Descriptive ad copy is also a negative.
  • Lesson 4: Exclude irrelevant sites from your display ads.
  • Lesson 5: Not everything is irrelevant.
  • Lesson 6: Really, Don’t Be Evil.

Of course, that’s just one part of how I’d go about setting up Hell’s PPC campaign, but, in the spirit of the season, I figured it’d be appropriate to focus solely on negatives. And, as it turns out, there’s a lot you can learn from Hell – at least a lot more than the guy searching for a term paper on Malabranche has learned.

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