Tips for Identifying Negative Keywords for PPC Campaigns

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January 26, 2015 4:37 pm | Published by Curt

Negative keywords are designed to prevent your adverts from showing for search terms that are not relevant to your site, campaign and objectives. For example if you only sold “blue widgets”, you could add a range of other colours such as “orange widgets” as negative keywords. Negative keywords are an absolute must for any PPC account as they help reduce the amount of irrelevant impressions and clicks you receive which will intern save you money and improve your PPC campaign performance.

How to Find Negative Keywords

There are many different methods available that can be employed to find negative keywords. Some are well known, whilst some are often overlooked.

  1. AdWords Search Query Report

    One of the easiest ways to find negative keywords, is to use the ‘Search Query Report’ that is available to you within your AdWords account. The SQR will show you a list of keywords which your ads have received impressions/clicks for. To view these search terms, simply set the date range of your choice:

    AdWords Date Selector

    Ensure that you have selected a campaign you wish to view, then navigate to the ‘Keywords’ tab located within the menu:

    AdWords Keyword Tab

    Click on the ‘Details’ button and select the ‘All’ option under the ‘Search Terms’ heading:

    AdWords All Search Terms report in Keywords Tab

    This will then bring up a list of search terms that users have been searching for:

    Exact Match Keywords in AdWords Report
  2. Google Autocomplete

    Another great way to find negative keywords is to use Google Autocomplete, this tool will try and complete your sentence with related search terms, designed as a usability function to allow for faster searching.

    To do this, simply navigate to Google and enter a word or phrase, followed by the space bar to see related search terms that you can then identify irrelevant phrases which can then be added to your campaigns negative keyword lists:

    Google Auto Complete for Negative Keyword List Building
  3. eBay Search Suggestions

    eBay can be a great place to pick up negative keywords simply by using their eBay suggestions tool which is similar to the Google Autocomplete:

    eBay Suggested Terms for Negative Keywords

    Not only that, you can target specific categories to narrow it down further for example, try searching your keywords in their ‘toys’ or ‘antiques’ categories and you should start finding numerous search terms and toy brands that you can add as negatives.

  4. Amazon Search Suggestions

    Amazon can be a great way to pick up additional negative keywords. Similar to eBay which also has a search suggestion tool, you can start typing a search term and pick out irrelevant suggested terms which can be added to your campaigns negative keyword list.

    Amazon Suggested Search Terms for Negative Keywords
  5. Google Adwords Keyword Planner

    The keyword planner is an outstanding free tool that you can take advantage of for both negative keywords and keywords. Simply enter a keyword into the search bar and let Google do the hard work. This will provide you with many variations for you to add into your account.

    Negative Keyword Research with Google AdWords Keyword Planner
  6. WordStream Negative Keyword Tool

    WordStream have a great negative keyword tool that you can use. It works in the same way as the Keyword Planner in which you simply enter keywords and it will bring back a list of related terms.

    WordStream Negative Keyword Tool
  7. Thesaurus.com

    Using a thesaurus can be a great way to find variations of your existing negative keywords. Each negative can likely produce five or six variation negatives so give the thesaurus a try and see how it works for you.

    Thesaurus.com Search for Negative Keyword Planning
  8. YouTube Search Feature

    YouTube’s search feature can be a great place to find negative keywords. A lot of these search terms you’ll find will be video related, so using this alongside Google’s Autocomplete can be a perfect match. YouTube is the home for video tutorials and how to’s so if you’re trying to sell a product, these may not be buying related search terms which you’d probably want to add as negatives.

    YouTube Suggested Search Terms for Negative Keywords
  9. Google Analytics Queries Report

    Google Analytics is a great way to find negative keywords. Within your respective Google Analytics Profile, simply navigate to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimisation > Queries. This will display a list of search terms that you’ve been receiving clicks / impressions for from an organic point of view.

    Google Analytics Queries Report for Negative Keyword Identification
  10. Generic Negative Keyword Lists

    There are certain negative keywords which will apply to many different sectors and accounts. Using generic, negative keyword lists that other people have created, can be a great way to find those all-important search terms that you may have forgotten. Below are a few examples:

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