Negative Keywords Bring Positive Results

Negative Keywords will increase your CTR, avoid irrelevant traffic, and give the slip to non-converting, trigger happy searchers!

A note before you get Negative KeyWord Happy:

If your campaigns are not getting enough data to warrant a change, you don’t want to inundate them with Negative Keywords and lose out on some traffic that you may desperately need. This doesn’t mean you should let shoe shoppers click on your leather purse ads, it just means you should hold off on cutting the amount of impressions you have until you are familiar with the campaign’s performance and are able to get enough data. Negative Keywords are just like everything else in pay-per-click: they require research and, most importantly, knowing your industry and its searchers. There are 4 main tools that will help identify the perfect Negative Keywords.

4 Negative Keyword Identifiers:

Your Brain!

You know your searchers, your site, and what products you offer (at least you should). Use that knowledge to add some Negative Keywords that you know will bring in the type of clientele you don’t want. For example, if you are strictly a dog groomer, you should get rid of any searches dealing with the more popularly groomed animals like horses and cats. Using your impressive gray matter will also enable you to find out what synonyms or related terms you should include in your list as well. For example, if you are adding “jobs” to your Negative Keyword list, you will most likely want to include career, hiring, resume, etc.

Google Preview Tool

This is a great tool to find out what kinds of sites and ads your more popular keywords are pulling up. Aside from your great brain power, the Google Preview Tool is the best means of identifying keywords that are lowering your CTR and wasting your money. This tool also enables you to “search” from any targeted area without costing you impressions or costing you a click if you have an itchy trigger finger hovering over your ad. This will help you get a handle on the local searches in an area as well.

After searching for “Pet Grooming,” because you know what services you don’t offer, certain words should pop out to you when you use the Google Preview Tool:


It may not have crossed your mind that people looking for a career or supplies would search for pet grooming, but if you’re strictly a dog groomer, you’ll want to ensure these searchers don’t click on your ads.

Just by using the Google Preview Tool, we are able to create a great list of Negative Keywords:

List of Negative Keywords

Google KeyWord Tool

The Google Keyword Tool is another great way to eliminate irrelevant searches from finding your ads. While you have most likely used this tool to find keywords you would like to focus on, you should also be able to identify keywords that are related to your industry but are services you either don’t offer or don’t want to focus on. Make sure to include these keywords in your list of Negative Keywords.

Search Query Report

The Search Query Report is a great tool on quite a few different levels. When it comes to Negative Keywords, it is a great source for identifying searches that led to a click but you know won’t convert. You can use these non-converting keywords to further populate your Negative Keyword list as well.

Using these 4 Negative Keyword identifying methods will ensure that you are getting the most relevant and valuable traffic. As you continue to add to your Negative Keywords list, you will see your CTR rise and your campaigns improve.


Brady Roundy

I never thought about using Google’s preview tool to find negative keywords. That’s a great idea.


Question about this:

“If your campaigns are not getting enough data to warrant a change, you don’t want to inundate them with Negative Keywords and lose out on some traffic that you may desperately need.”

It sounds like you’re suggesting that if a client has low traffic they need to settle for less-than-relevant traffic. Could you clarify what you mean by that?

It’s possible that if someone’s target market is too small to garner enough relevant traffic to support a defined PPC budget, they should consider moving that portion of their marketing budget to an effort like SEO and/or optimizing their local map listing on Google.


Negative keywords are a great feature of PPC. Another great thing to do if you are a local business that doesn’t want out of state traffic is to add the other 49 states and their abbreviations as a negative keywords. Whatever you can do to restrict irrelevant traffic is worth it.


Great article! It had some really good ideas in there for thinking of and finding negative kw’s that I haven’t really thought of before. Thanks for the helpful info, I’ll be referring back to this article in the future!

Gabe Thayn


Thanks for your great question regarding a client perhaps needing to settle for less-than-relevant traffic if they have low traffic.

By no means should you settle or accept any traffic that is not converting or meeting your CPA goals. I mention holding off on adding a ton of Negative Keywords in the beginning of your campaigns creation only to ensure that you don’t miss out on some informative data.

I have seen the mistake made where a large batch of predetermined Negative Keywords were added to a Campaign in its creation. With each Campaign being unique you do not want to remove opportunities for success. Wait until you get enough data to ensure you are removing irrelevant traffic.

Phenomenal insight regarding moving some of your marketing budget to things like SEO & a Local Map Listing if your industry, location, and search volume limit the amount of traffic you can receive through PPC.