Why Having a Negative Keywords List is Crucial

Written by Devin Sizemore

June 5, 2019

Owning a business and running its online presence can be overwhelming. There are a ton of things you have to pay attention to like reviews, SEO terms, and what your competition is doing. One thing that can be crucial to your business’s online presence is the negative keywords that may be used.

This is why building a negative keywords list is so important to make sure your company thrives online. Today you’ll learn everything you need to know about what negative keywords are, how to build a negative keyword list, and different ways to use that list to benefit your company! Let’s talk a bit more about what a negative keyword is exactly.

What Are Negative Keywords?

how to find negative keywords for google adwordsIt’s hard to make an entire list for something if you don’t know what you’re writing about. Negative keywords are words that may be in your advertisement that prevent the ads you have from showing to potential customers or clients.

If you have an ad that isn’t being shown to people who are looking for your product or service, you’re wasting company money. This is what is called a negative match. When specific words are added as negative keywords to your ad group or campaign market, you’re telling AdWords to essentially hide your advertisement from anyone searching something with that word in it.

Let’s say you own a car dealership. If you add “discount” to your negative keywords and John Doe is searching for “discount cars,” your company, advertisements, and available vehicles won’t be shown to John.  

This is because when you add negative keywords, such as “discount”, your advertisement won’t be shown to those using such keywords in their search. That’s an easy way to lose business. Don’t let this discourage you; having negative keywords can be good, especially if that car dealership you own only sells high-end vehicles.

The point of using negative keywords is so that you can reduce the number of visitors to your website or advertisement that aren’t going to buy your products or service anyway. This way, the people who are clicking your ads are authentic, relevant buyers.

Negative Keyword Types

When negative keywords are added, they are done so on one of two levels. You have your ad group level and your campaign level. In addition to those levels, there are a few different campaigns where you can apply a negative keyword list.

You have the option of adding negative keywords to video campaigns on sites like YouTube. You also have a search network campaign just as Google or display network campaigns that are on other high authority websites.

The last thing you must keep in mind is the type of match you want to accomplish. There are three different types of matches: broad, exact, and phrase. Let’s discuss those more in detail.

Phrase Match

For a phrase match, you choose a phrase you would like to add to your negative keyword list. Let’s stick with the example of owning a high-end car dealership. You can add the phrase “previously owned” or “slightly used” to your negative keyword list.

Whenever someone searches for the exact phrase, such as “previously owned Buick” or “slightly used Buick”, your ad will not be shown. But if someone searches “lightly used Buick”, your ad would show. It must be the exact phrasing, in the same order that you add to your negative keyword list.

Exact Match

Exact matches are like phrase matches. You can block people from seeing your ad by adding specific keyword terms to your list. People must search the exact terms in the same order you have on your list, without any extra words for your ad not to show up.

Using the example above, if someone searches “slightly used Buick”, your ad would still show up if you only have “slightly used” on your negative keyword list instead of “slightly used Buick”.

Broad Match

Broad match should be your go-to when it comes to the type of negative keywords on your list. Using this method will block your advertisement from being seen from someone that searches the keywords on your list, in any order.

The only downfall to this type of matching is that if you have “slightly used” on your negative keyword list and John Doe searches “used Buick” your ad would still show since they didn’t use the full phrase you have in your negative keywords list.

How To Make A Negative Keywords List

Making a negative keywords list is a lot easier than you may think. The best way to do so is by using Google AdWords. There you can make lists of negative keywords on an account level or start more curated lists for ad or campaign groups. Here are the easy directions for using Google AdWords to make a negative keyword list for your company or business:

  1. Go to your keywords.
  2. Click on “Negative Keywords”.
  3. You then have the option to make a new list, add to an already existing list, or use your negative keywords lists that you’ve already made. Choose the option you’re looking for.
  4. There is a box above where you type in your words; click on this.
  5. You then must choose if you’re going to add this list to your Ad Group or your Campaign.
  6. Type in your negative keywords in the box available.
  7. Save your list.

How To Improve Your List

Once you have your negative keywords list, you want to make sure it’s top notch. Below you will find a few ways you can improve your list, so you get the most out of having one in the first place!

Use A Thesaurus

Whether you’re expanding your negative keyword list or your main keyword list, a thesaurus can be a great help. Chances that your competitors use one when adding to their lists is high, so you should as well. Missing a word or phrase here and there can make their ad come up before yours if yours comes up at all.

This can make the ad you’re running a waste of money if it’s not being shown to potential customers. When you use a thesaurus you’re able to add words that are like the one you’re already adding, thus making sure all keywords are covered.

Perform A Search Query Reportnegative keywords adwords

If you don’t already know what people are searching for when your ads come up, you should. Performing a search query report can show you everything that has been searched that has triggered your advertisements to be run.

You’ll be able to see if anything you don’t want your ad correlating with is searched for and you will then be able to easily add those words or phrases to your negative keyword list. Doing this will save your advertisements for relevant searches.

Universal Negative Keywords

There are lists available that have keywords that are negative for nearly all PPC campaigns online. Many of these lists have the negative keywords broken down into categories. If you’re posting an ad for a job opening, there is a list for that. There are lists for just about every industry out there, too.

Most of these words will apply to your campaigns, but don’t just add the entire list. Make sure you look through the lists, so you don’t add a word you didn’t want to by mistake. Sometimes you may even find positive keywords that help your campaign.

Google Keywords

Google has a keyword research tool within AdWords. There you can add between two and four keywords you want to specifically target. Make sure you add these words in order of relevance to your campaign.

You’re then able to use the keyword column of the tool to find search queries that aren’t relevant to your product or service. Once you find these queries, you’re able to click the arrow that’s pointing down.

This arrow is in the “Match Type” column for every keyword you want to add to your list. Choose “Negative” and then it will be added to your negative keyword list! Pretty easy, huh?

How Negative Keywords Are Bad

If you’re not using negative keywords correctly, they can be bad for your business. We couldn’t let you read all about negative keywords without warning you about ways you may be using them incorrectly.

You’re Not Using Them

The main way they can hurt your business is by not using them at all. Not using negative keywords allows people to click on your ads that have no interest in buying your product or service.

It will mess up your analytics and make it look like you have more interested clients than you do. Using a negative keywords list helps you weed out the people who aren’t interested from the ones that actually are.

You’re Putting them In The Wrong Place

This is where knowing what’s relevant comes into place. If you don’t know what is relevant to your campaign, you may be putting the keywords in the wrong place. This is another great reason to know what people are searching for when your ad comes up.

If you’re running a high-end car dealership, you don’t want people looking for junk cars to see your ad. Make sure you’re putting the best, most relevant keywords in the correct places to ensure you’re getting the most out of your campaign.

Positive And Negative

Another thing to check is if you’re using the same keywords or phrases in both your positive and negative keyword lists. Make it a regular part of your routine to go through both lists and delete or move around keywords to their correct lists. Having the same phrases or keywords on both lists cancels them out and defeats the purpose of having that word or phrase on either list in the first place.

You’re Not Managing Keywords

It’s important to make it a habit of going through your keyword lists regularly. You’ll be able to add up to 10,000 keywords to your list, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space. Complete regularly scheduled research for your negative keyword list so you’re as up to date as possible about any words you may need to add to your lists.

You’re Naive To How Matches Work

If you are adding words to your negative keywords list, you need to make sure you’re adding every version of that word. Let’s use the word “work” for example. If you’re adding the word “work” to your negative keyword list, be sure to add “worked”, “working” and “works” as well.

An easy way to make sure this is done is to pay attention to the three tenses: past, present, and future. Also, make sure you’re adding in the plural and singular versions of keywords as well as the full word. For example, if you’re using the word “promo” on your negative list, make sure to add “promos”, “promotional” and “promotions”.

Make sure you pay attention to the different match types you read about earlier and apply them to your negative keyword list. When you do this, be sure to use the correct match or you may end up wasting time by having to do the same work over again.

Final Words

Now you’re much more well-versed on negative keyword lists than you were before. Using a negative keyword list is a great way to ensure that your campaigns are getting shown to a relevant audience. That way you’re not wasting marketing money on an audience that has no interest in your product or service. Now you’re able to easily apply what you’ve learned to improve your business.


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1 Comment

  1. Zena Goldman

    I knew negative keywords was something I had to understand better, but I hadn’t quite got there yet. Your examples are so helpful and I’ve definitely grasped why a luxury car show room would add discount to it’s negative keyword list now


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