When it comes to SEO, there are a lot of different things you will need to bear in mind. From backlinks to landing pages, bounce rates and click through rates, there is a lot to take in. But one of the things that gets focussed on a lot is the infamous keyword list. This is the list of keywords you want your business to be found for, and that users will type into Google to find services like yours. There is all sorts of information and advice out there about how to pick the right keywords for your business, where to put them and how to really craft a list of keywords you want to be found for. But what a lot of people don’t talk about is the negative keyword list, which is just as important as your main keyword list when it comes to Google Ads. So today, we’re going to talk about what a negative keywords list is, and how to build yours.


What Is A Negative Keyword?

It’s fairly easy to work out what a negative keyword is when you think about it. When you want to be found for a term, it’s a positive keyword, and when you don’t want to be found for it, it’s a negative keyword. Negative keywords are the words that show you your audience isn’t interested in your services. For example, if your business produces hard-copy calendars, then the words ‘calendar’ ‘monthly calendar’, ‘kitten calendar’ and so on would all be on your positive keywords list. But you wouldn’t want to be found for words like ‘online calendar’ or ‘printable calendar’, since you know your product isn’t want a searcher would want, and you wouldn’t want to waste your money bidding for them. So you would want to put these on your negative keyword list.


Finding Negative Keywords

One of the easiest ways to find out what the negative keywords for your business might be is by using the Google Ads Keyword Planner. While it’s technically designed to help you find your positive keywords, you can also use it to get ideas for your negative keywords list. When you search for a term, like ‘calendars’, you will see a list of keyword searches and related keywords. You can look through this list and find terms that have come up for your search, but don’t apply to your business.

If you’ve been running Google Ads for a while, you could also use your Search Terms Report to give you a bit of insight. Here you can view what people have actually searched for to find you, and sort by the highest number of impressions. This shows you which ads have the highest click through rates, and which get none at all. The ones at the bottom of the list should be considered for your negative list.


Get Creative

When it comes to your negative keyword list, it pays to be creative. Don’t just think about the obvious things people might search for and accidentally get your business. So if we go back to our calendar example, your business might sell cute calendars with cat pictures, landscapes and people. Now you have a user who puts in the search term ‘calendar girls’. They could be looking for:

  • The 2003 feel-good British movie of the same name starring Dame Helen Mirren.
  • The lesser-known 1993 comedy drama Calendar Girl featuring throwback teen heartthrob Jason Priestly.
  • The 1961 Neil Sedaka song.
  • Something entirely more risqué.


Either way, they probably aren’t looking for your adorable kitten calendars. So in reality, not blocking the term ‘calendar girls’ could be costing you money. It might seem a little silly, but it’s worth sitting down and brainstorming the more ‘out there’ things you don’t want to be found for.


Do Your Research

Google search results themselves can also be a goldmine for negative keywords. Try searching for your own primary keywords, and taking a look at everything that appears on the first page. These are all results that Google deems relevant to the search. So if you see things that aren’t transactional, or don’t match up with what you’re selling  then they should go on the negative list.


Don’t Forget Add Them To Your AdWords Account

Now you’ve done all the hard work finding and honing your negative keyword list, you don’t want it to go to waste. After all, they aren’t going to do you much good just sat in a spreadsheet! Now, you need to add them to your Google Ads account. To do this, you need to:

  • Select Keywords and Targeting > Keywords, Negative.
  • Click on Add negative keyword and select Ad group negative keyword or Campaign negative keyword.
  • If prompted, select the destination for the new negative keyword and click on OK.
  • Enter the negative keyword in the edit panel.


Once you’ve added your negative keywords, your ads will not be triggered by any of them, saving you money and time.


If all of that sounds a bit too complicated to do by yourself, don’t worry, that’s where we come in. We provide a fully managed AdWords service, taking you from set up all the way through to building your campaigns and inputting your keywords, both positive and negative. If you would like more advice on how to build your negative keywords list, or help getting started with AdWords, just get in touch with the team today.