What Are Negative Keywords? 

In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, negative keywords are keywords that prevent your ad from being displayed to users. When you add a negative keyword, you tell Google AdWords not to display your keyword when a searcher uses that term. For example, if you add the word “free” as a negative keyword, then anytime a user’s search query contains that word, your ad won’t show and you won’t be charged. 

Why Should You Use Negative Keywords? 

Negative keywords are one way that you can save money on your pay-per-click advertising campaigns. You can prevent your ads from appearing on irrelevant searches that would be less likely to results in a conversion. Using negative keywords help you prevent spending your money on wasted clicks. When you aren’t spending your budget on wasted clicks, you can appear more often for higher quality searches.

When you effectively use negative keywords, you can help improve the following metrics in your PPC campaigns.

  • Conversion Rate: By ensuring your ads only appear for relevant searches, you will help improve the percentage of users who click on your ad and convert.
  • Quality Score: Google calculates your quality score by factoring your keyword, ad and URL relevance and evaluating the user experience on your site. If your ads are appearing for keywords that aren’t relevant to your products are services, this could affect your quality score. By focusing on only keywords that are relevant, you can improve your quality score which could help improve your ad rank. 
  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR): If your ad is appearing for more relevant searches, your click through rate will improve. 

Taking the time to add negative keywords to your campaigns can have a significant impact on your campaign’s overall performance. 

How to Find Negative Keywords

When you begin generating ideas for negative keywords, you may have a few terms in mind that you know users are searching that don’t relate to your business. However, there are probably a lot of keywords that you aren’t aware of to add as negative keywords. Luckily, there are many tools you can use to help find negative keywords to add to your campaign.

Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner is an ideal place to start when looking for negative keywords. Although this tool is most commonly used to find keywords to bid on, it can also provide insight into keywords you don’t want to include. When you search for terms on the keyword planner, you will see the average monthly search volume and a suggested bid of the keyword you searched. You will also see related keyword ideas that relate to the term you searched.

For example, if you search for the term “plumber,” the keyword planner provides terms related to plumbers. In the example below, you will see keywords like “water heater repair” and “water heater replacement.” If you are a plumber but don’t offer that service, you would want to include that as a negative keyword. Any terms you see in the related terms section that don’t relate to your business, you should add as negative keywords.

Search Terms Report

Google provides a search terms report that outlines the keywords that users searched for that led them to see your ad. To find the search terms report, navigate to the keywords tab and then select the search terms tab.


You can review all the terms users searched and review information about clicks, impressions, CTR, cost, conversions and more. If you see a term that is costing you a lot but not resulting in any conversions, you may want to consider adding this keyword as a negative keyword. Also, if you see keywords that don’t relate to your business, you will want to add them as negative keywords.

One nice benefit of the search terms report is that you can add negative keywords directly from the report. You can check the keywords you want to add as negative keywords on the left and then click the “add as negative keyword” button. This feature makes adding negative keywords quick and easy.



How Do I Add Negative Keywords

When adding keywords, you can add using the search terms report as mentioned above, or you can add under the negative keywords tab.



You can add negative keywords at the campaign level and the ad group level. Also, you can use different match types when adding negative keywords: 

  • Broad Match: Broad match negative keywords prevent your ad from appearing anytime a user includes the negative keywords in their search. The user can search for the keywords in any order, and your ad will still not appear. For example, if you have the term black jacket as your broad negative keyword, your ad won’t appear when a user searches for “black jacket discounts” or “jacket in black” because these searches contained the word “black” and “jacket.”
  • Phrase Match: Phrase match negative keywords prevent your ad from appearing when a user searches for the exact keyword phrase you have excluded. A searcher can have additional words before or after your phrase. To denote a phrase match negative keyword, use parenthesis (i.e., “keyword”). 
  • Exact Match: Exact match keywords are denoted by adding brackets around your keyword (i.e., [keyword]. An exact match keyword will only prevent your ad from being delivered if the user types the exact same keyword or phrase you have listed as your negative keyword.

When adding negative keywords using various match types, you will want to ensure you won’t be blocking any relevant traffic. 

How Often Should I Add Negative Keywords?

Adding negative keywords should be something you do on an ongoing basis. When you initially set up your campaign, you should include any negative keywords that you can think of or that you found through the keyword planner. 

On an ongoing basis, reviewing the search terms report will provide insight into new words or phrases to add as negative keywords. Since users are constantly searching for different terms, reviewing the search terms report will help you continue to make improvements to your campaigns. 

Start Using Negative Keywords Today

Negative keywords can help you optimize your campaign on an ongoing basis. With proper research and implementation of negative keywords, you can improve your CTR and conversion rate. Adding negative keywords is easy to do and can help you save money and avoid wasted clicks. Don’t wait to get started. Optimize your PPC campaign with negative keywords today!


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