If you put “Negative Keywords” and “Content Network” in the same sentence, even folks with intermediate PPC experience get confused. I felt the same way until a recent conversation with our Google Rep. She helped to clarify the best practices for using negative keywords when creating AdWords campaigns that target Google’s content network.

While writing this article, I will assume that you are already implementing the AdWords best practice of separating out your search traffic and content traffic campaigns. If you aren’t, well shame on you! It takes about 10 minutes in AdWords editor and can save you tons of money.

For quite some time, most SEM specialists have known that the best practice is to eliminate phrase and exact match types in content network campaigns, only using broad match terms. Since the keywords are being viewed as a theme, match types do not apply. It is best practice to have no more than 10 to 15 broad match keywords per ad group in content campaigns.

Negative keywords should be thought of very differently on the content network. Copying the negative keywords you have in your search campaigns to your content campaign could limit the sites your ads are eligible to show on. This could severely restrict a number of relevant impressions being generated (and possible conversions!)

The right way to use negatives on the content network is to:

1.Start off with only negative keywords that are highly irrelevant.

2. Only add your negative keywords in broad match.

To control where your ad shows, run the AdWords Placement Performance report. This report will show you which content sites your ad was shown on. You can view performance (cost, conversions, etc.) for each site. Site’s that are highly irrelevant or unprofitable can be added as excluded sites.

So go take a look at your content negative keywords. A few simple changes to your negatives could open up the taps on tons of relevant traffic!