Quick tip: Google adwords negative keywords

Quick tip: Google adwords negative keywords

So now you have an adwords account and you have added in all the keywords that will make your ads shine. But you’re also watching your advertising budget get eaten down day by day, with few results to show for it. Don’t close down your adwords account just yet! There are factors that can lead to poor online ad results, and some have easy fixes. In this post we’ll talk about one such “fixable factor”: using Negative Keywords to better target your audience.

What is a Negative Keyword?

Let’s start with an analogy: One fine day you decide to go fishing for trout in a lake. You stop at a tackle store and plunk down $20 to buy a can of nightcrawlers to use as bait. You get to the lake, put the first worm on the hook and bam! A small, inedible sunfish strikes and takes the bait. You soon realize the lake is full of sunfish–every time you drop your line you catch a sunfish. Where are the trout?!! Soon you’re out of bait. Your fishing excursion was a failure. You go through a McDonald’s drive-through on the way home and order a Fillet-o-fish.

A Negative Keyword or “negative match“ is a keyword or phrase that you can select and employ to prevent your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. It’s a way to screen out the sunfish. Your ad won’t be shown to anyone searching on the negative phrase. Suddenly your ad is reaching the trout. Here’s a helpful explanation from the Google support page. 

To take an example, let’s say you have a catering service and you want to target just potential customers (trout), not people looking for a job in the catering business (sunfish). Some Negative Keywords you might want to consider are “Jobs”, Employment” or “ Hiring.” You add these to your negative keywords list, and boom!–you’ve just drastically reduced the amount of advertising dollars you waste showing your ad to job seekers.

google adwords account set up

If you are launching your ads through Display or Video campaigns, Negative Keywords can help you avoid having your ads appear on websites that have no real connection to your business. Negative Keywords work a bit differently here, it’s a bit more complex than with a normal search campaign, but hey, we’re putting it on your radar.

Where can you find the Negative Keyword words list in your adwords account?

Login into your Google Adwords account > Campaigns > Keywords > Negative Keywords.

How do you figure out what Negative Keywords to use?

I had the same question when I began trying to target my ad spend. Here are three lists to help get you started:


Negative Keywords that are a must for every campaign:

  • free
  • cheap
  • nude
  • naked
  • sex
  • porn
  • porno
  • torrent
  • torrents
  • youtube

Employment Search Negative Keywords:

  • hire
  • hiring
  • employment
  • employer
  • employers
  • job
  • jobs
  • occupation
  • occupations
  • career
  • careers
  • occupation
  • occupations
  • full time
  • part time
  • work
  • resume
  • resumes
  • salary
  • salaries
  • pay
  • intern
  • recruiter
  • recruiters
  • recruitment
  • resume
  • Resumes
  • Internship
  • Internships

Screening out Bargain Hunters (sunfish!):

  • bargain
  • cheap
  • clearance
  • close out
  • close outs
  • closeout
  • closeouts
  • discount
  • discounted
  • free
  • inexpensive
  • liquidation
  • odd lots
  • overstock
  • remainder
  • remainders

There are websites that have additional Negative Keywords ideas and lists–these can be a good resource as you construct your own list. Here are some links:






Hopefully this introduction to Negative Keywords has given you some ideas and put you on the path to improving your ad traffic. If you would like to look more into Negative Keywords pop into the google adwords support page:

Happy fishing in the lake of google search!

Remember its not how you start it’s always how you FINISH

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