How to Use Negative Keywords with PPC

How to Use Negative Keywords with PPC

Negative keywords are a core component of a successful PPC campaign. By including the right negative keywords to better target your audience, you will generate more qualified traffic, increase your Click through Rate, and therefore lower your Cost per Click. However, if used incorrectly, negative keywords can deprive your website of a huge amount of relevant traffic.

Negative Keywords Checklist

For those of you managing your PPC inhouse, I’ve put together a checklist of best practices for using negative keywords. The checklist assumes you already have a negative keyword list and are refining it for maximum impact.

Are there any obvious keywords that should not be in the negative keyword list?

This is important to ensure that you’re not blocking qualified traffic. For example, if you sell baby clothes, “baby” and “clothes” would be good negative keywords because they are too broad, but you’d probably want to keep the traffic for searches such as “baby accessories” and “infant clothing”.

Are you applying negative keywords at the ad group level?

It’s common for people to add negative keywords at the campaign level, because it’s faster than applying them to individual ad groups. However, this universal approach usually doesn’t achieve the best results. It’s much more effective to allocate negative keywords to each ad group within your campaign, according to the target audience for each.

To continue with the baby clothes store example, you’d want to keep “newborn baby clothing” as a negative keyword for an ad group targetting toddler clothing, but remove it for your ad group targetting newborn clothing.

Have  you introduced any new products or services?

Let’s say your baby clothing store has recently started selling a new designer range. Make sure you take “designer baby clothes” off the negative keyword list, because this keyword is now relevant to what you offer.

Are the match types being correctly applied?

A common mistake is adding negative keywords in the wrong match type. For instructions on how to use match types to best effect, please visit Google’s help page on the subject.

How often should I revisit my negative keywords?

You should review your negative keywords list every 2 to 3 months, to make sure that your product offerings, ad groups and qualified traffic opportunities are all up to date and in alignment.


If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments! 🙂

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We’ve been in the digital marketing field for over 18 years and worked with hundreds of Australian (and international) businesses to grow their web presence. Specialising in SEO, search ads (PPC), social media, content marketing, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.

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