buckworks - 4:45 am on Jun 24, 2013 (gmt 0)
Spend some time exploring with a keyword suggestion tool, watching for terms that would be good to block.
Example: I know of more than one sports team called the Stampeders, sometimes "Stamps" for short. If the keyword tool turned up things such as city names, player names, sports terminology etc. in "stamps" searches, those words would be prime candidates for your negative keywords lists.
I've never yet come across a sector that didn't have some targeting weirdness caused by vocabulary overlap with something completely different.
have to pay an average of three times what I used to pay to get onto the first page.
You might have to bid more for a while, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'd actually have to pay more. That's why I asked if you had tried raising your bids.