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What Are Negative Keywords and How Do I Find Them?

Wondering what negative keywords are? Read on and find out how this could be the Yin that Keywords, the Yang, needs to help make your campaign much more effective.

“Negative keywords” and “keywords” are very intertwined, very interrelated.

But first off, how do we define a Negative Keyword? What is its function? Well, this kind of keyword is our way of telling Google not to show our ads for certain searches.

For example, if you are selling COTTON SHIRTS.

You might be targeting a keyword like “cotton shirts” or “cotton shirts for sale”. Let’s say that your cotton shirts are not organic. In that case, you would not want to show up for someone searching for “organic cotton shirts”. What you’d want do is add the word “organic” as a Negative Keyword. 

Same thing if your cotton is not “egyptian cotton”. There’s no use in your ad showing up for people looking for “egyptian cotton shirts”. If that’s the case, you can add the word “egyptian” as a Negative Keyword.

In these cases, negative keywords are going to block your ad from showing if someone searches for “organic cotton shirts” or “egyptian cotton shirts”, which are not something you offer. 

Oftentimes you would end up creating a pretty long list of these negative keywords. There are likely a lot of searches (related BUT NOT SPECIFIC TO what you’re selling) that are not actually something that you’d want to get in front of. You wouldn’t want people who are searching for the wrong things to see your ads and click on it, so we want to block those from the start.

How do we find negative keywords?

1) Common Sense.

Start with the obvious. Use your familiarity with the product or service you are advertising, and know that there are things related to that product that are not specific or cannot be answered by your ad. If you’re selling cotton shirts, as with the example above, determine that there are other types of cotton shirts that you don’t offer but people would be searching for. 

2) Keyword planner.

This should be done while you’re researching your keywords. While finding your normal keywords, you’re going to see a lot of stuff in the keyword planner that would not fit your offer. If it’s not a keyword that you would want to pay for, that is when you would add that to your list of negative keywords. Simply put, as you’re researching your keywords, make sure you also add to the list of your negative keywords.

3) Negative Keyword Pro.

This is another tool that is found in the ADLEG SOFTWARE SUITE. You can go to to try the demo.

Similar to the amazing Keyword Generator that I talked about in the previous blog post, this uses Google’s predictive search results. It will tell you all the words that people are searching for, along with your keywords. 

As you type in one of your keywords, the tool will come up with a long list of other words that people usually search for along with those keywords. So what you can do then is look on this list and tick off the words that don’t belong. The words that you ticked will automatically appear in the negative keywords box. You can then conveniently copy and paste that list into your Google ads campaign as negative keywords.

4) Look at your Search Term Report.

You should be checking your search term report frequently. Here, you’re going to find things that people have searched for that don’t belong.

The issue here is that if a keyword is already in the search term report, it means you’ve already paid for that click. Yes, someone has already clicked on your ad, you paid for it. That’s why you should use other ways to prevent that and add that negative keyword beforehand.  

With Negative Keyword Pro, you are able to add those negative keywords before you ever pay for them, and they are based on things that people are actually searching for just like your search term report. Needless to say, It’s good to use and the search term report hand in hand. prevents words from appearing in the search report for sure.

But there are words that do sneak past you. Once you see a word in the search term report that doesn’t belong, go ahead and add those in the list of negative keywords.

One thing to note when you’re adding negative keywords from your search term report:

It’s best to add the shortest version of that (negative) word. For example, if you see the words “organic cotton shirts” on your search term report, it would be better to just add the word “organic” on your list of negative keywords. That is to prevent other variations of that search to appear such as “organic egyptian cotton shirts”. If you add the shortest word or most basic phrase as negative keywords, it’s going to block a lot more.

Keep these things in mind when you’re thinking of determining your Keywords AND Negative Keywords. It’s an intertwined combo that will help you maximize your campaigns with Google search.

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