Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

Let me ask a question: How are negative keywords different from other keywords?

The choices given are:-

  • Make your ad appear for search terms that you don’t want.
  • Prevent your ad from showing for search terms that you don’t want.
  • Can only be used for ads on the Display Network.
  • Can increase your costs.

Correct Answer is:-

Prevent your ad from showing for search terms that you don’t want.


For search campaigns, you can use broad, exact, or phrase match negative keywords. However, these negative match types work differently than their positive counterparts. The main difference is that you’ll need to add synonyms, singular or plural versions, misspellings, and other close variations if you want to exclude them.

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

For Display and Video campaigns, negative keywords are always considered the exact match. You won’t be able to change the match type for negative keywords you add to Display and Video campaigns.

Read More: What Are The Key Benefits Of Using The Google Display Network?

How to Discover Negative Keywords

Coming up with an initial list of negative keywords is pretty easy. Here are three different categories of sources to help you get started:

  1. Starter Lists

There are a number of great negative keyword lists out there. Check them out for inspiration and add the most irrelevant keywords as negatives to your campaign.

  • 200+ Negative Keywords to Consider for B2B PPC
  • 75 Negative Keywords That Every AdWords Campaign Should Include
  • PPC Hero’s Super-Duper List of General Negative Keywords (Download)
  1. Search Query Report

You can (and absolutely should) review your search query report to see which searches are currently triggering your ads. Once you’ve pulled the report, you can sort and filter it to find the low hanging fruit–frequently searched irrelevant queries that you’re wasting the most money on. For help, read our Guide to Using the Search Query Report.

Here are the two ways to look for negative keyword opportunities.

  • Sort by highest impressions to see the most popular queries your ads show up for.
  • Sort by highest spend to see which keywords are costing you the most money.

Once you’ve sorted your queries, look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate to gauge the quality of the keyword. If the keyword is irrelevant and isn’t resulting in conversions, you can add it as a negative keyword.

  1. Google Keyword Planner

This keyword research tool provides a wide list of common and related keywords. Once you’ve created a list in the tool, review it for negative keyword ideas. Next article, we will explain how to use the Google Keyword Planner, so stay tuned with Kranthi.

Read More: Tips for Creating a Successful Google AdWords Campaign

List of Some of the Popular Negative Keywords

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

Let’s take a look at the piano example here and below are the list of some negative keywords that should be added early on in their campaign:

  • Refurbished pianos
  • Used Pianos
  • Piano music
  • Piano sheet music
  • Music for pianos
  • Piano repairs
  • Piano tuning
  • Old pianos
  • Piano concerts
  • Piano musicians

Common Negative Keyword Categories

  • Freebie / Discount Seekers – Free, Coupons, Cheap, etc.
  • Second-Hand Buyers – eBay, GumTree, TradeMe, CraigsList, etc.
  • Hacking/Cracking Searchers – Torrents, Warez, Hack, Nulled, etc.
  • Job Seekers – Careers, Jobs, Hiring, Work, etc.
  • Information Seekers – What is, how to, About, Stats, etc.
  • Tutorial/Guide Searches – Training, Class, Books, etc.

Three Techniques to Find More Negative Keywords

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

Identifying Potential Negative Keywords

When looking for potential negative keywords it is important to consider the intent behind the keyword. Think about your online marketing strategy and objectives while identifying negative keywords. When you look for negative keywords, you will also need to consider the strategy and objectives of your AdWords campaign, some people might want to add ‘reviews’ as a negative keyword, while others might want to include this as a keyword to target.

Using Actual Search Terms

Inside AdWords, you can see the actual search terms that triggered your ad and resulted in a click. This is really important, especially if you are using broad match keywords, where bidding on ‘tennis shoe’ as a broad match would mean our ad could display for keywords like ‘buy tennis shoes’, ‘tennis shoe photos’ and even ‘used tennis shoes’.

Since there can be a difference between the keyword you are bidding on and the keyword that people are using to find your ad it is important to use this information to refine your campaigns.

Using the Opportunities Tab

The opportunities tab in AdWords provides automated suggestions for your account, including keyword suggestions. This is another great way to identify new keywords and even potential negative keywords for your account. Since the suggestions are all automatically generated it is worth spending a little bit of extra time and care when reviewing the recommendations.

Navigate to the ‘opportunities’ tab within your account and check that you are on the ‘keywords’ tab. There will be keyword suggestions for different ad groups within your account.

When you are scanning the keyword recommendations look for negative keywords that you can add to your campaigns, ad groups, and negative keyword lists. Using the same technique we covered when using the actual search terms report, we can identify terms within the keyword suggestions. For example, if you are advertising a real estate agent and you see the keyword suggestion of ‘real estate coaching’ you can add ‘coaching’ as a negative keyword if you don’t offer a coaching service as part of your offering.

Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another great way to identify negative keywords to further refine your campaigns. Head over to Google Analytics and navigate to the ‘reporting’ tab. Start by scanning through the organic (free) keywords that are driving people to your website. You will find this report under ‘Traffic Sources’, just click ‘Sources’, then ‘Search’ and finally select ‘Organic’.

You are likely to have hundreds or even thousands of different keywords sending people to your website, so focus on the keywords that are driving the majority of traffic; these will be at the top of the report. You can then expand the number of rows by changing the ‘show rows’ option or simply page through the report using the arrows in the bottom right corner. Quickly scan for potential negative keywords that you can add into your AdWords account.

Read More: Which Two Bidding Strategies Can Boost Brand Awareness and Recognition?

Why Should You Use Negative Keywords?

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

Use negative keywords when you want to ensure that your ad doesn’t show for a particular word. By preventing your ad from showing on irrelevant searches, you save money on wasted clicks and create more opportunities for it to display on searches that are relevant and could lead to conversions.

There are four main reasons to use negative keywords in your pay per click campaigns: to cut advertising costs, increase click-through rates, direct traffic to the most appropriate ads, and to keep your campaigns and ad groups as honest as possible. Below, we’ll explore each of these reasons in more detail.

Cut Down On Your Advertising Costs

First, negative keywords can cut down on your advertising costs by actively excluding keywords and keyword phrases that do not meet your ROI goals. For example, you might find that it’s profitable to bid on the broad match keywords “widgets.” Over time you discover that many variations are profitable, but that some search queries like “Blue Widgets” and “Red Widgets” result in a lot of clicks and high cost, but no profit because your business does not carry blue or red widgets. In this case, “blue” and “red” would be excellent choices to add as negative keywords in your account. By doing so, your ads will no longer display for these queries, and you’ll no longer be charged for unprofitable clicks, resulting in higher ROI.

Increase Your Click through Rate

Click through rate (CTR) is the ratio of clicks you get out of how many times your ad is displayed. Reducing the number of extraneous impressions your ads receive will results in higher Click through Rates. This plays out when you see certain search queries producing huge impression volume while not inducing many clicks. It could be a mismatch of intention, it could be that your ad copy is doing a great job of qualifying clicks to your site. Regardless, the only thing worse than a keyword that doesn’t get clicks is a keyword that gets clicks but doesn’t convert. You can save yourself some grief and avoid either fate altogether by adding the appropriate negative keywords.

Direct Traffic to the Best Possible Ad

The negative keywords you select to act as a traffic director – allowing some traffic through to one ad while blocking ad impressions for another. This benefit is one that’s a bit more advanced, but a tactic that can really help you turn the dial and increase your keyword to add to landing page relevance dramatically. Since multiple keywords across your account can compete on a given user search query, plus the fact that Google will display the ad + keyword combination in your account that has the highest ad rank, this can result in an unintentional ad being triggered at the wrong time. Don’t worry, though, you can take steps to avoid this

When Should I Do Negative Keyword Research?

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

Negative keyword research should be an ongoing process just like regular keyword research, but here are three common scenarios:

Before a PPC campaign is launched – This is considered proactive negative keyword research. By brainstorming and researching all the different irrelevant searches your ad could be shown on, and setting those negatives before you launch, you can save money on wasted clicks, and prevent the detrimental effect they have on your Quality Score.

Once a campaign is live – This is considered reactive negative keyword research because it is in response to irrelevant searches that your ad has already matched against. Within the first few days of a campaign going live, you should mine your search query reports for keywords with high impressions and low clicks.

On an ongoing basis – Many PPC marketers do negative keyword research on a weekly basis, but negative keyword research at any time can only help a live campaign. Mine search query reports for dips in conversion rate or Quality Score. These are indicators that your ads are being shown on irrelevant searches and negatively impacting your campaign performance.

Why Create a List of Negative Keywords?

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

To summarize, here are the most important reasons why you should create a list of negative keywords:

  • Your ads will no longer be displayed for irrelevant keywords
  • Improved click-through-rate. Significant reduction in clickthroughs that don’t convert.
  • The higher positioning of your ads while keeping the CPC low. This means more savings and significant improvement in ROI.
  • Improved knowledge of your keywords, so that you can also use them in your web content, articles and blog posts.

Things to Consider While Choosing Negative Keywords

Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

Remember, a negative keyword will stop your ad from showing up for the specific words or phrase chosen, so take extra caution when adding negative keywords. To stay on the safe side, add negative keywords as the exact match with [brackets] for Google AdWords and “quotes” with Bing Ads. Also, make sure you know which campaign you’re affecting as some negative keywords will work for one campaign but not for another. You don’t want to accidentally cancel out keywords that you should be bidding for. If you’re unsure about which negative keywords to use for your industry, contact a PPC expert.

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Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords

If you are not already using negative keywords in your campaigns, it is time you started including them. For more information about running successful PPC campaigns, it is recommended to seek help from the industry-leading experts. Also, stay tuned with Kranthi to get more valuable tips and expert guidance.




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