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Negative Keywords You Should Exclude From Your PPC Campaign

Negative Keywords You Should Exclude From Your PPC Campaign

A PPC (pay-per-click) campaign is where advertisers get space to market on websites, and it can be in specific ones or optimised by ad companies to appear on search engine results such as on Google, depending on content. 

PPC marketing works best with search engine advertising, as optimised ads maximise the keywords in the content and influence indexing. 

Usually, search engines split the revenue with the website owner, and the rates vary depending on the company. Keywords are a vital pillar of a PPC campaign, and you can exclude some using a universal negative keyword list.

Universal Negative Keyword List

Universal Negative Keyword List

There is no specific universal negative keyword list, and there are many available online depending on a company’s market, for example, food, travel, or finance. 

You can also create your own. Search engines provide a way to add negative keywords as Google does. It is easy to organise negative keywords on Google ads and to distribute them to different campaigns. 

One needs to have them differently on each campaign, and you can copy and paste them then save them to apply. If you want to apply similar negative keywords, then it is possible through the shared library. 

It involves adding many campaigns in one then clicking apply just as in the single campaign. This is an example of how it applies in Google, and it can be different in other search engines.

Why use negative keywords?

It is annoying to have irrelevant ads on a website, as it leads to low conversion rates. Users are less likely to click on the ads if it does not relate to their exploring content. 

It diverts their attention for no reason; hence, it can be frustrating to your campaign. Using negative keywords comes into play to avoid such scenarios and improve the ad click rates, leading to a high return on investment (ROI).

High-quality clicks provide value to the PPC campaign. It is easier to get them using negative keywords and spend less money on unwanted clicks, leading to low click rates. 

The PPC campaign can be chaotic without negative keywords, with much money going to poor quality clicks.

Site owners have tricks to gain more clicks through click farms, which is a huge problem for search engine advertisers. 

Although they are implementing measures to prevent the activity, it is a persistent problem. The tricksters use different methods, for example, through social media traffic, which is hard to flag down. 

It is possible to optimise the negative keywords to fit the most irrelevant ones to prevent showing on unrelated websites. 

Optimised negative keywords are available online, and they are usually categorised depending on the target markets.

Creating a negative keyword list

Your negative keyword list is as important as the primary keyword list, and you should also spend time creating it. They define those searches you do not need your ads to appear in, and it keeps your campaign targeted, and you can manage costs effectively. 

Some keywords may be offensive and irrelevant to your ads, hence, the need for the list. For example, if you have a high-end store selling expensive products, you can add words such as free or cheap to your negative keyword list. 

Some keywords might also seem almost similar to yours; for example, if you sell dryers and washers, you can add hair dryers on the negative keyword list. 

Are you wondering how you will create your negative keyword list? Don’t worry; we got you.

Tips for creating a negative keyword list

Create A Negative Keyword List

Follow search query reports

It is monitoring the user searches online, for example, on Google. You can see what users are searching for and use the reports to differentiate your negative keywords. 

It is a straightforward approach, and you can use it also when creating your primary keyword list.

Use negative match types

The negative match types make it possible to block more traffic relating to the negative keyword list. 

Usually, searches may contain long-tail negative keywords, and the match types make it easier to block such traffic. 

It cancels all the related traffic, and it makes your PPC campaign smooth.

Use automated tools

Negative Keyword Tools

If you cannot create a comprehensive negative keyword list, you can always consult online libraries. 

You can search for the negative keywords relating to your primary keywords and implement them in your list. 

Therefore, there is no need to panic, as the process is not as complicated as you think.

Create negative keyword levels

It is similar to the ad groups you generate when creating your PPC keyword list. 

It would help if you did the same for your negative keywords, and it will allow you to fit them across different campaigns and ad groups. 

You should not overcomplicate the process, as you will end up hurting your ad campaign instead.

Creating a PPC Keyword List

Apart from excluding keywords on your PPC campaign, you need to define the ones you would like to use and link to your ads. 

You might have several pages on your website, and you need to scan through each of them and find the best keywords from their content. 

You can then develop a comprehensive set of keywords that relate to the services and products you are offering. 

You can categorise keywords into; 

  • competitor terms
  • related terms
  • generic terms 
  • brand terms

Competitor terms relate to what your rivals are offering, and it can be on the services, products or the brand. 

Related terms define the close terms that users might associate with the services and products on your site. 

Generic terms directly relate to the services and products you offer. 

Brand terms define your trademark, and users can associate it with, for example, design features like your website’s logo or colours. 

Related:  7 Tips for Branding Images to Show Brand Value

Using brand terms directly related to your competitors is usually highly costly, and it will take up a considerable chunk of your budget. 

It would help if you brainstormed before deciding whether it suits your brand or is worth your investment.

Keywords should be user-focused

What Are Long Tail Keywords Seo

Always put the customer first when creating your PPC keyword list, as you should be aware of what they would search on their browsers. 

For example, if you are selling apparel, the keywords can be black long-sleeve shirts, women’s long-sleeve blouses, and shirts. 

The first list is preliminary, and you can use it to develop variations, such as synonyms. For example, when on running shoes, you can add synonyms like sneakers or trainers. 

You should be creative with the variations and add plurals, abbreviations, and other short forms.

Be specific with keywords

A broad range of keywords is suitable for your PPC campaign, but you should be specific, especially on the main ones. 

Again, if you are selling apparel, specific keywords can be men’s shirts, kid’s shirts or women’s shirts for the shirts category. 

Users searching for shirts are from broad demographics, but they are all searching for specific products. 

You can include longer specific keywords, but they may not be as effective as the short ones. 

However, they also lead to conversions as they are more specific and less costly, and you can add them as you progress, depending on what you observe regarding user behaviour.

Connect keywords to your services and products

Your keywords should not stray away from what you are offering, as you do not want to mislead users online. You can use related content but avoid spam keywords. 

If you run a cat food store, you can include related keywords such as cat accessories, cat sitters, cat health issues, cat breeds or cat grooming. 

It is influential in boosting your site’s visibility online and capturing a wider audience, even if they might not purchase your services and products immediately.

Utilise concatenation

Concatenation Keyword Tool

It is a technique where you can match keywords, for example, in columns. You can do so on Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets or other online tools like Found’s Ultimate PPC Keyword Concatenation Tool or Mergewords. 

It makes it possible for you to come up with different variations and long-tail keywords.

Consider misspelt words

User searches are not always perfect, and search engines record many typos. For example, when users search for Christmas, they can make errors, including ‘Chritmas’, ‘Chrismas’ or ‘Cristmas’. 

Therefore, you should figure out how you think users are most likely to misspell your primary keywords and include them appropriately. 

If you are a Dynamic Keyword Insertion user, avoid placing the misspelt keywords in any ad group, as it will mess up your campaign. 

Automation tools in search engines can identify misspelt keywords. Hence, you can skip this step, as it is not entirely necessary.

Be conscious of how people speak

Accessibility tools are now more used than ever, and users utilise their phone virtual assistants to browse, for example, Siri on iOS, Google Assistant on Android. 

When creating long-tail keywords, you should think about how people speak when searching for products or services online. 

For example, when users search for a restaurant, they are highly likely to ask, ‘Which is the best Chinese Restaurant in Chicago?’ or ‘Which is the nearest sneaker store?’ 

You can be creative and include more variations, and it is possible through changing sentence structuring and switching up the adjectives.

Refining the keyword list

After creating your preferred keyword list, the next step is to refine your choices and select the best ones. You can go in with all of them, but it is best to optimise your list to choose the most effective and relatable. 

There are tools to help you with this, for example, WordStream’s Keyword Suggestion Tool or Google’s Keyword Planner. 

They give you a better insight into the most relevant keywords and how they will be effective on search engines. 

However, you should not narrow your list entirely, as it should be broad enough to ensure proper online visibility with more search attraction. 

These tools rank keywords depending on their competitiveness online, and they can be low, medium, and high. 

Logically you should choose the high ranking keywords, but bidding on them can be more expensive, and you can spread them out, depending on your budget.

Choose keywords with low competition, yet high volume

Low Competition High Volume

This type of keyword will drive a huge chunk of traffic at a significantly lower cost. 

You should be strategic when choosing keywords, which is one of the methods you should aim for. 

Online tools help you search for keyword ranks like Google Keyword Planner, Soovle or Ubersuggest. 

The highly competitive keywords are costly because more users are bidding for them, taking up a considerable part of your PPC budget. 

Sorting PPC keywords

After choosing your keyword list, the next step is to sort them into groups. Connect those related keywords, and they should follow guidelines from search engines including Bing and Google. 

The conventional way to do so is to create ad groups that align with your website’s structure. 

It is the easiest way to sort your keywords and ensure that you align with the search engine guidelines. Usually, it would be best to sort them depending on their relevance, such as generic or brand terms. 

Good ad groups make it easy to create relevant and specific ads, generate expandable lists, and measure keyword performance. 


A PPC campaign is only successful with compatibility with various keywords. Therefore, it is essential to exclude some keywords close to the useful ones, but they are not relevant. 

It is possible through the use of a universal negative keyword list. One can generate their own, but it would not be as comprehensive as the ones already created, but it is advisable to add more if necessary. 

Having a longer negative keyword list ensures more optimisation and a high success rate of generating clicks. Search engines like Google do not provide automated tools for negative keywords. 

Alternatively, they have a framework to place ads relating to the keywords specified, and it might not be as successful, as it might lead to poor quality clicks with low conversion rates.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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