Digital Reach
By Digital Reach | SEM | January 18, 2017

Building Your Negative Keyword List

In PPC we all know how important selecting the correct keywords are. Equally important is building your Negative Keyword List.

It’s Important

We all know the one most important word in the Pay-Per-Click world – RELEVANT. Is your keyword list relevant to your ads? Are your ads relevant to your website?  Relevant.

When your keywords don’t connect to your ads which doesn’t connect to your website, Google will penalize you in Quality Scores which will make your Cost-Per-Click increase. But, more importantly, you will be throwing away your hard-earned advertising spend on traffic that is not interested in what you want to provide.

Let’s say you sell expensive cars. Those beautiful tops of the line luxury sports vehicles that we all love to look at and dream of driving.  You wouldn’t want to advertise to a new mom looking for day-care would you?  No, and why not?  Because it’s not relevant to what you’re selling.

Where to begin

You should have an idea of what you would already not want to show your ads for and can start your negative keyword list there. If you sell cars, then you can already negate boats, planes, trains, buses etc. But where next? After your ads have been running for a short period of time, you can check out what terms people have been using that has lead them to your ads with the Search Term Report.

The Search Term Report

The Search Term Report is a great place to start. Here you can see all the criteria people are entering into their search engine that leads them to click on your ad – including the keyword that was triggered.  Let’s say you own a tour company in San Francisco; you aren’t offering tours to Lake Tahoe or Japan yet your ads were triggered and clicked on in the sample below. You would definitely want to add these words to your Negative Keyword list.

Adding Negative Keywords

There are various levels to which you can add negative keywords.  These can be added at the Campaign or the Ad Group level.  If I were running a campaign that did offer tours to Lake Tahoe, I wouldn’t want to exclude this from that campaign, but I would for all the others. I keep a note pad open to have a running list of the keywords that I want to add. That way I can highlight them all and add them in one fell swoop.

To add Negative Keywords, simply follow these steps:

  1. – Select Keywords and Targeting
  2. – Select Keywords, Negative
  3. – Select Make multiple changes
  4. – Choose your destinations –  campaign or ad group level
  5. – Select the campaigns/ad groups you want to apply these negative keywords
  6. – Paste from clipboard


And there it is, you’ve added your Negative Keywords. Looking at search term reports and adding negative keywords should be part of your account maintenance. At the very least, checking these on bi-weekly basis will keep your campaigns clean of non-relevant traffic.

For more tips on running a successful SEM/SEO campaign, check out other blogs from our experienced staff.

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