What Are Negative Keywords?

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Often in PPC marketing negative keywords get completely forgotten in a race to figure out what keywords to target. But just as it is important to find great keywords to target it is incredibly important to find out what not to target.

Negative keywords are an important element in skyrocketing your ROI in Google Ads. They allow you to exclude search terms from your campaigns. This reigns in the ad, targeting it specifically for users who are interested, and so, have a higher chance of converting. Better targeting allows you to focus on those who matter, increasing your ROI.

By taking advantage of negative keywords you won’t have to pay for as many dead-end clicks from searchers looking for a totally different product or service than you provide. By choosing the right keywords you could filter out irrelevant searchers who may want a similar product, but not quite what you are offering.

Say you are a pet shop trying to advertise pet mice. You begin your Google Ads campaign by finding a bunch of keywords to target relating to pet mice. The trouble here is that there will be a lot of searchers looking for computer mice, who will just google “mice” or “mouse”. These searches will all be dead ends for your ad, they may click on it, realise you sell pet mice and move on, charging you for the click. Yuck! By adding in negative keywords relating to computer mice you provide Google with a list of search queries that are not relevant to your product. Now you don’t have to worry about those irrelevant clicks getting in the way. However, you of course still want to target “mouse” or “mice”, or you may miss out on those legitimate searchers looking for a pet mouse. Balance is key.

How do you source negative keywords?

Finding negative keywords requires a lot of research and a bit of creativity. You need to find terms that are similar to your keywords but are unrelated to what you are selling. There are four techniques you can use to help you create excellent negative keywords.

  • Use Google Ads Keyword Planner

If you haven’t been using Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, then you need to. It is perfect for helping you find some keywords to get you started in Google Ads. But it is also an excellent tool to help you find negative keywords. When you type in the keywords that you want to target you will see a list of suggested keywords. In this list will be keywords that you know are unrelated to your business, these should be added to your negative keyword list.

  • Search Google

Do a Google Search of your keywords and see what comes up. Each result displayed is a website or product/service that Google thinks is relevant to your search. If results in the search seem irrelevant to your business, then look to add the related terms to your negative keywords list.

  • Be Creative

If your business could relate to a song, movie, book or any strange search term, ensure that you begin to place those in your negative keywords list. Start thinking outside of the box and you will find more terms to eliminate, reigning in your ads’ targeting.

  • Use Search Terms Report

After your campaign goes live you can look over and see what search terms have been triggering your campaign. You can use Google’s Search Term Report to find these. Continue to tweak your keywords with this data to improve your ROI.

How Do I Add Negative Keywords to My Campaign?

Before you launch your campaign, it is important that the list of negative keywords that you have researched have been added. This ensures that you aren’t wasting any budget on ads that receive dead end clicks. One of the last major decisions you will have to make before you launch your campaign with negative keywords is how you want to apply them. You have two options, each effecting the campaign in different ways. You could either apply them at the campaign level, or at the Adgroup level.

If you want to Google to never show any of your ads for certain keywords, then you want to apply them at the campaign level. This way, no matter the Adgroup, Google will not show them when these keywords are searched.

Your other option is to stop individual Adgroups from appearing for certain negative keywords. This way you can fine tune exactly which of your ads appears where.

Now that you have worked out where you want your negative keywords to go it is time to apply them.


Taking advantage of negative keywords could transform the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns, drastically improving your ROI. They can be challenging to get right, and time-consuming to continue tweaking to maximise your ROI. If you need help with your Google Ads campaigns, you should talk to a digital marketing agency who are experts at PPC marketing. Contact Link Pixel now!


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