Max Crowe

Posted by Brian Aubert, Account Director

Why would you ever want to use your own brand name as a negative keyword in paid search when you are running brand keywords?  Answer: When you want Google to map search queries to the most relevant keyword, of course.

Here’s why.  Keywords that contain brand terms—such as parent name, sub-brands, model number, or product name—typically perform differently than nonbrand generic keywords.  Brand terms have higher Quality Scores, higher click through rates (CTRs), and lower cost-per-click (CPCs).  Therefore, paid search marketers typically separate keywords into brand and nonbrand campaigns (e.g. Mortgage – Brand vs. Mortgage – Nonbrand).  This division provides better visibility into performance differences between campaigns.  An added benefit of separating campaigns is that campaign-level negatives can be used as “directional negatives” to steer traffic.

Directional negatives are negatives of keywords you actually have in your program.  These negatives help guide the search engine algorithm to map search queries to your more efficient keywords, which are typically brand terms.

For example, say you are Bank of America bidding on mortgage-related keywords and your campaigns are set up as follows:





Mortgage- Brand

Bank of America mortgage



Mortgage- Nonbrand



Bank of America

Imagine a person searches for “Bank of America mortgage”.  You would rather have Google map that search query to the “Bank of America mortgage” keyword with $1.00 bid than the “mortgage” keyword where the bid is $15.00.  You can remove any doubt that the brand query will map to the nonbrand keyword by employing directional negatives, in this case a “Bank of America” negative in the Mortgage – Nonbrand campaign.

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