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How to use negative keywords to target your PPC campaigns

How to use negative keywords to target your PPC campaigns
Summary: Using negative keywords in your PPC campaigns can be a powerful tool for boosting click-through rates and driving good quality traffic to your site.

Are you interested in optimizing your PPC campaigns and maximizing their performance? If so, have you trialled using negative keywords?

Many businesses overlook the importance of negative keyword optimization when it comes to improving campaign performance. However, using negative phrases intentionally can be a powerful tool for boosting click-through rates and driving good quality traffic to your site.

In this article, we will explore what negative keywords are, how to identify them for your PPC campaigns, and share some tips for effectively implementing them to improve overall ROI.


What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are words or phrases that block your ads from being triggered by certain irrelevant or generic search queries. They help refine the scope of your campaigns and improve targeting to only relevant searches. By using negative phrases, you can avoid wasting money on irrelevant clicks and improve the performance of your PPC campaigns.

As an example, if you are running an ad for a “diving experience”, adding “free” as a negative keyword would stop you coming up in searches for “free diving experience”.

There are two distinct categories of negative keywords: broad match negatives and exact match negatives. Broad match negatives prevent any search query that includes the specified word or phrase in any order, whereas exact match negatives only restrict queries that contain the exact term. It is crucial to utilize both types of negative keywords in order to efficiently block irrelevant searches.


Identifying negative keywords

When setting up PPC campaigns, it is essential to incorporate negative keywords to prevent your ads from being associated with irrelevant search queries. There are a number of strategies for identifying negative keywords for your PPC campaigns.

  1. Examine search queries and ad copy linked to your campaigns. This analysis will help you to identify terms that may result in irrelevant clicks.
  2. Research competitor ads. This can help identify potential negative keywords that may be applicable to your own campaigns.
  3. There are numerous tools and resources available, such as keyword research tools (e.g. Google keyword planner) and competitor analysis tools (e.g. SEMRush), which can assist in quickly and efficiently finding relevant negative keywords.


Tips for implementing negative keywords

  • Start by creating an extensive list of keywords that you do not want your ads to appear for. It is crucial to be meticulous in compiling this list to maintain maximum relevance. Group phrases logically to make your least easy to maintain going forward. (e.g. miss-spellings, synonyms, product categories)
  • However, it is equally important not to overdo it by adding an excessive number of negative keywords, as this can result in overly restrictive targeting and ultimately harm your campaign’s performance.
  • Regularly monitoring and updating your list of negative keywords is crucial for optimizing your campaigns. It is important to stay up-to-date with changing search trends as they can change quite quickly.
  • Employ the broad match modifier (BMM) as an effective strategy to increase relevance by specifying which words should be included or excluded from triggering an ad impression.
  • Consider automation tools which can streamline the management of negative keywords in your campaigns.



In summary, incorporating negative keywords into PPC campaigns can greatly enhance their effectiveness by ensuring ads are displayed to the most appropriate audiences.

By consistently monitoring and revising negative keyword lists, utilizing broad match modifier, and making use of automation, companies can optimize their campaigns and boost their return on investment from their campaigns. Negative keywords play a crucial role in the success of any PPC campaign, resulting in increased click-through rates, decreased cost per click, improved quality scores, and more precise website traffic.


At WSI Digital Advisors, we have over 20 years of hands on experience running PPC campaigns. As part of the WSI network, we also have the option of working with our specialist PPC partners who have alternative approaches to PPC, depending on your industry and budget size. Interested in finding out more? Contact us today.


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