Welcome to the world of online advertising, where every click counts! As a beginner navigating through the vast landscape of digital marketing, it’s crucial to equip yourself with effective strategies and tools that can maximize your ad campaign’s success. One such tool is negative keywords – an often overlooked but powerful asset in your SEO arsenal.

In this comprehensive guide, we will demystify negative keywords and show you how to harness their potential. Whether you’re running Google Ads or Bing Ads, understanding and utilizing negative keywords can significantly improve your ad targeting, minimize wasted spend on irrelevant clicks, and ultimately boost your return on investment (ROI). So let’s dive right in and discover the secrets behind this invaluable technique!

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are like the gatekeepers of your ad campaign, ensuring that your ads are shown to the right audience. In simple terms, they are specific keywords or phrases that you choose not to target with your ads. By excluding these negative keywords from triggering your ads, you can refine and optimize your targeting strategy.

Let’s say you’re running an online shoe store and want to reach potential customers searching for “buy shoes.” However, you wouldn’t want someone looking for “free shoes” or “used shoes” to click on your ad and waste precious advertising budget. This is where negative keywords come into play.

Researching negative keywords is a crucial step in building an effective list. Start by brainstorming terms related to your business that may attract irrelevant traffic. Think about common misconceptions or search queries unrelated to what you offer.

Adding negative keywords is relatively straightforward once you have identified them through thorough research. Most advertising platforms provide options for adding negatives at both the campaign and ad group levels.

When adding negatives at the campaign level, it ensures they apply across all ad groups within the campaign. On the other hand, adding negatives at the ad group level allows for more granular control over which specific ad groups they impact.

How to research negative keywords

When it comes to building a successful Google Ads campaign, researching negative keywords is just as important as targeting the right keywords. Negative keywords help you exclude irrelevant search terms and avoid wasting your budget on clicks that won’t convert.

Look for traffic

To effectively research negative keywords, start by analyzing your existing data. Look for search terms that are driving traffic to your website but aren’t relevant to your business or goals. This could include generic terms, unrelated topics, or even competitor brand names.

Planner or SEMrush

Next, utilize keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to expand your list of potential negative keywords. These tools allow you to uncover additional search terms that may not be immediately obvious.


Another useful approach is leveraging the power of customer feedback and online reviews. Pay attention to what customers are saying about your products or services and identify any recurring themes or words that indicate a mismatch between their expectations and what you offer.

Trends and niche

Additionally, monitor industry trends and stay up-to-date with popular topics in your niche. By understanding the current landscape, you can proactively add negative keywords related to trending subjects that don’t align with your objectives.

Remember, effective negative keyword research requires regular monitoring and refinement. As your campaign progresses, keep track of new search terms appearing in analytics reports and adjust accordingly.

By conducting thorough research on negative keywords, you’ll improve the relevancy of your ads and increase the likelihood of attracting qualified leads while saving money by reducing wasted clicks from non-converting searches.

How to add negative keywords to your campaign

When it comes to adding negative keywords to your campaign, there are a few simple steps you can follow. First, take some time to review the search terms that have triggered your ads in the past. Look for any irrelevant or low-quality searches that aren’t relevant to your business.

Next, use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find additional negative keywords related to your industry or products/services. These tools can help you identify common words or phrases that may be triggering irrelevant clicks.

Once you’ve compiled a list of negative keywords, head over to your ad platform’s settings and navigate to the “Negative Keywords” section. Here, you can add individual keywords or entire lists of negatives at once.

It’s important to keep in mind that negative keywords should be added at the campaign level rather than the ad group level. This way, they will apply across all ad groups within that campaign.

Regularly reviewing and updating your negative keyword list is crucial for optimizing your campaigns and ensuring you only attract high-quality traffic. By regularly refining this list, you’ll save money by avoiding wasted clicks from irrelevant searches.

Remember, building an effective negative keyword list takes time and ongoing maintenance. As new search trends emerge and user behavior evolves, it’s essential to stay proactive in managing these exclusions for optimal campaign performance.

The benefits of using negative keywords

The benefits of using negative keywords in your PPC campaigns are numerous. By effectively utilizing negative keywords, you can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your advertising efforts.

Traffic management

Negative keywords help to filter out irrelevant traffic. When you add negative keywords to your campaign, you are essentially telling the search engine not to display your ads for certain search queries that are not relevant to what you offer. This means that you will only be targeting users who are actively searching for products or services related to your business.

Advertisement optimization

Negative keywords can help reduce wasted ad spend. By excluding irrelevant searches from triggering your ads, you won’t be paying for clicks from users who have no intention of converting into customers. This allows you to allocate your budget more effectively towards reaching qualified leads.

SEO quality

Additionally, using negative keywords can also improve the overall quality score of your campaigns. When search engines see that your ads consistently appear in response to relevant searches and receive high click-through rates (CTR), it signals that they are providing valuable content to users. As a result, this can lead to improved ad rankings and lower costs per click (CPC).

Furthermore, by regularly reviewing and updating your list of negative keywords based on ongoing performance data and customer feedback, you can continuously refine and optimize the targeting of your campaigns over time.


In this beginner’s guide, we have explored the power of negative keywords in optimizing your SEO campaigns. By understanding what negative keywords are and how to research them effectively, you can save valuable time and money by ensuring that your ads are not shown for irrelevant search queries.
So now it’s time for you to start harnessing the power of negative keywords in your SEO strategy! Take advantage of the research tools available, dive into analyzing relevant data, and fine-tune your campaigns accordingly. With a well-crafted negative keyword list at hand, you’ll be on track towards maximizing ROI and driving meaningful results for your business.


Frequently Asked Questions


What are some common mistakes when using negative keywords?

Some common mistakes include not researching or updating the list regularly, adding too many broad match negatives which can potentially block relevant traffic, and not reviewing performance data to identify new negative keyword opportunities. It's important to constantly monitor and refine your list for optimal campaign performance.

Can using negative keywords improve my overall ad quality score?

Yes, by targeting more relevant searches and improving CTR, using negative keywords can positively impact your ad quality score and potentially lead to lower CPCs.

Can I add negative keywords at the ad group level instead of the campaign level?

No, it's recommended to add negative keywords at the campaign level rather than the ad group level to ensure they apply across all ad groups within that campaign. This will also prevent duplicate negatives and make management more efficient.

How often should I review and update my negative keyword list?

It's important to regularly review and update your negative keyword list based on ongoing performance data and customer feedback. This can vary depending on your industry, but it's recommended to check in at least once a month for optimal results.

Are there any tools or resources that can help me with negative keyword research?

Yes, there are various keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush that can assist in identifying potential negative keywords for your industry or products/services. Additionally, regularly reviewing the search terms report in your ad platform can also provide valuable insights for refining your negative keyword list.

How do I know if my negative keywords are working effectively?

Monitoring your campaign's performance metrics such as CTR, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition (CPA) can indicate the effectiveness of your negative keywords. If you notice a decrease in irrelevant clicks and an improvement in overall campaign efficiency, it's a good sign that your negatives are working effectively. However, it's always important to regularly review and update your list for continued optimization.

Can I use negative keywords in other forms of online advertising besides PPC campaigns?

Yes, the concept of using negative keywords to exclude irrelevant traffic can also be applied to other forms of online advertising such as display ads or social media ads. It's important to research and understand your audience thoroughly in order to effectively utilize negative keywords in any form of digital marketing. Overall, incorporating negative keywords into your SEO strategy can have a significant impact on the success and effectiveness of your campaigns.

Can I use negative keywords to filter out competitor terms?

Yes, you can add competitor brand names or specific products/services as negative keywords in your campaigns. However, it's important to carefully consider the potential impact on overall campaign performance and decide if this strategy aligns with your business goals. Additionally, some ad platforms have restrictions on using competitor terms as negatives, so be sure to check their policies before implementing this tactic. Overall, negative keywords are a valuable tool for optimizing your campaigns and targeting relevant traffic while reducing wasted ad spend. Keep learning and experimenting with different keyword strategies to continuously improve your SEO efforts!