Benefits of Understanding Negative Keywords

By applying negative keyword matching to your Google AdWords Campaigns, you can reach more targeted customers, reduce your cost-per-click (CPC), and increase your ROI (return on investment). This is particularly useful when the keyword phrases in your ad campaign are broad- or phrase-matched.

Definition of Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are used in keyword advertising to prevent ads from being shown when the search terms contain the negative keywords.

Benefits of Understanding Negative Keyords

1. Your ad will not be shown for keyword phrases that are not relevant to your target market.

2. There will be fewer click-throughs that do not convert to sales.

3. The overall CTR (click-through rate) will be higher because there will be fewer cases of searchers viewing the ad and not clicking on it.

4. A higher CTR will cause the ad to attain a higher position without requiring a higher CPC (cost per click).

5. Gain better knowledge what keywords to weave into your site’s content.

6. You will save money (reduce cost-per-click).

7. Increase the ROI of your Google AdWords Campaign.

Most people don’t pay near enough attention to negative keywords. Or maybe they stick in words like “free” or “cheap” but usually that’s not enough. Sometimes the total success or failure of your PPC campaign hinges on the proper use of negative keywords.

Here’s an example – the keyword “soap.” Here are the results you get from the Overture inventory tool:

Searches done in December 2006
Count Search Term
91393 soap opera
63090 soap
41891 soap opera digest
34895 soap central
21779 soap opera central
17220 soap making
13494 soap opera update
13439 cbs soap
12595 abc soap
7271 soap digest
6977 soap city
6794 soap dispenser
5608 soap opera weekly
5178 daytime soap
4974 handmade soap
4778 cbs daytime soap opera
4685 soap making supply
4629 soap dish
4525 daily soap opera update
4344 passions soap opera
4234 soap opera spoiler
4136 all my child soap opera
4099 young and the restless soap opera
3787 soap spoiler

If you’re bidding on the keyword ‘soap’ and using anything other than exact match [soap] it’s gonna be real, real hard to make this keyword work. If you sell soap related products, then the list you see here is actually more valuable in terms of the negative keywords it gives you (opera, digest, cbs, daytime) than the positive keywords (handmade, dispenser, dish).

So what you should do is bid this way:


with negative keywords


….and you should go all the way down the list, plucking out as many negative keywords as you possibly can.

When you do that, your CTR on broad match and phrase match will go up, sometimes even double or triple. On a term like ‘soap’, broad and phrase match will probably not work AT ALL unless you have a very extensive list of negative keywords.

2-3 years ago on PPC, the name of the game was slinging a lot of mud against the wall and seeing what sticks. Today, less is more, and negative keywords are just the kind of ‘less’ that will sharpen your saw and make you effective.

(Some content exerpted from


The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords

How to Set Up a Successful Google AdWords Campaign

Mastering Google Adwords Article


  1. That is a really useful tip!!! I have a friend who is big in AdWords and I can’t wait to tell her about it.

    Another AdWords tip, slightly off-topic, is the use of common misspellings. Not applicable to everyone, but if you have keywords for which there are common misspellings (e.g. words that have double consonants), then using them in your campaign has two advantages:
    – It is probably much cheaper per click
    – There is a chance that you will be the only sponsored site that comes up, making it more effective

  2. i just started a campaign in a very competitive market in the east coast, primarily using phrase matched, and I input a very long list of negative keywords into the campaign. I shudder to think how low the ctr would have been otherwise. At only $10 budget, it is very important to narrow your audience.

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