In life it pays to be positive. With Google AdWords it pays to be negative. Using “negative keywords” can be the difference between a pile of profits, or depressing losses.

As important as it is to get clicks, it’s crucial to get the right clicks, and negative keywords help weed out people who aren’t your target market.

Assume you’re advertising your services as a psychologist (eg Sydney Psychologist), and you’re not currently recruiting, then you should include negatives like careers, jobs, employment, part time, full time.

Now when a searcher types “Jobs at Sydney Psychologist” your ad doesn’t show.  You’ve saved the potential cost of a click. A simple concept.

The earlier the better

The trick is to do the research to anticipate lots of these terms before you start advertising.
You already spend a lot of time doing keyword research. As a rough rule of thumb, add another 30% of that time to research your negatives – it WILL pay off.

If you’re using ‘broad match’ you’ll need tons of negative keywords.  If you’re using “phrase match” you will still need them, but not as many. (See Google AdWords Learning Centre for more info on match types.)

The only time you won’t need negative keywords is when your account consists of only EXACT match keywords. So go on, check out your account now.

There are some pretty standard words, which have lots of searches that you should include as standard negative keywords in any new campaign: free, sex, porn, youtube, facebook, games, meaning of, define, whitepapers, research, internship, popular geographical locations you don’t supply etc.

Some negative keyword ideas for different businesses:

Discount store – exclude: prestigious, expensive, luxury, deluxe
Top end store – exclude: cheap, discount, deals, coupons, half priced, wholesale, used, rental
Professional services – exclude:  jobs, pro bono, legal aid, salaries, definition, scams, learn about

Hopefully that gets some creative juices flowing.

Other ways to brainstorm more negatives:

– Use Google’s keyword research tool (with synonyms) of existing negatives

– Use the Search Query report (see previous blog post on how to do this)

– Google Search a keyword, then click “+ Show Options” in the horizontal blue bar, scroll down, and click “Wonder Wheel”

– Use a thesaurus

Negative keywords can really save you a ton of cash. Let us know how much your results improve.

By Philip Shaw


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