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Click Through Rate Boost Using Negative Keywords

By Carver Koch

As AdWords advertisers, we know the difficulties of finding keywords that bring in valuable, relevant traffic. We’re constantly looking for new keywords that’ll bring in more conversions than all of our keywords combined, but unfortunately that’s not possible in the increasingly competitive PPC world.

Well we say when you can’t find what you’re looking for on the outside, maybe it’s time to look on the inside – or in this case keywords you’re currently using already!

What Are Negative Keywords and How Do They Work

Chances are if you’ve been in the PPC game awhile you’ve no doubt heard about the importance of negative keyword use, but if you’re new to PPC optimization, this article will help you big time! Negative keywords are essentially the exact opposite of the keywords you are targeting in that they are keywords you do not want your ads showing for.

For example, if your store offers absolutely nothing for free whether it be free shipping, free samples, or free delivery – you can simply add the keyword “free” to your negative keyword list and your keywords and/or ads will never trigger for a search query including the word “free” even if a keyword your are targeting is in the search query. This is a fantastic way to prevent irrelevant traffic (that would never convert in the first place) from clicking your ads.

But Where Do I Add Negative Keywords?

Adding negative keywords is actually quite simple. All you’ll need to do is navigate to any of your ad groups and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Once there, click the + icon to expand the negative keyword dropdown to see two options: adding negative keywords on the ad group level or the campaign level. Negative keywords added on the ad group level will only affect the ad group they’re added to whereas adding a negative keyword to the campaign level will affect every ad group under that campaign which is simple enough.

Adding Negative Keywords

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How Do I Find Negative Keywords?

Fortunately for us advertisers, there’s a ton of great ways to find insight on negative keywords ranging from generators to generic lists, but there first place I’d recommend looking is your search term reports found right in Google AdWords.

Search Term Reports

Search Terms Report

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Googles search term reports show exactly (to some degree) what search queries triggered your ads to show and more often than not, there will always be some variations triggering your ads to show when you’d rather they don’t know matter how well optimized.

Simply head over to your keywords tab, select whichever keyword(s) you’d like to report on and click the details dropdown to get the search terms report options to show. If you selected just a few keywords, you’ll be selecting ‘Selected’ to see a report for just the checked keywords. Choosing ‘All’ very obviously shows you a report for every keyword you target.

*Choosing ‘All’ is generally not recommended as it becomes much more confusing to determine which search query was triggered by what keyword!

After you make your selection, depending on your date range, you’ll see a list of keywords and their performance. To add a keyword to your negative keywords, simply check any of the keywords your see and click “Add as negative keyword”, choose either the ad group or campaign level, click Save and you’re all set to prevent your ads from showing for that search query!

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*Note the notorious ‘Other Search Terms’ section at the bottom of the list. These are keywords that triggered your ads within the last 24 hours that hasn’t yet populated as well as keywords Google has deemed too irrelevant to show you (which should make you cringe - why not show us these Google!?).

Google Search Recommendations

In addition to the search term reports, another great method to find potential negative keywords is by using the recommendations that Google gives you before finishing a search bar. It can be reasoned that if Google is recommending it in a search query you target, your ad could be considered relevant enough for Google to show it.

While they may not be Google, I’d recommend doing this on other search engines to help brainstorm even more negative keyword ideas.

Negative Keywords Lists

If you’re new to the negative keyword brainstorming game or want a quick fix for generic search queries to add to your negative keyword list I recommend a simple search of “negative keyword lists” as there are tons of posts out there giving you hundreds of keywords that you may want to add to your negative keyword list. These will range from industry to industry so I highly recommend reviewing any list you may find before adding the entire list as it could prevent your ads from showing for search queries that you actually want to show for!