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The Ultimate Negative Keyword Checklist For Small Business Owners

White Shark Media

9 years ago



When creating and optimizing your campaigns finding the right keywords seems like the most important task. However, finding your negatives keywords is equally important. Did you know negative keywords can actually lower your overall conversion costs? They can also help you increase your CTR, quality score and most importantly help drive qualified traffic to your site.

The internet is a scary place, full or all sort of queries; you wouldn’t want to rack up impressions or pay for clicks that are not related to your business, would you? So to make it easier for you, use this checklist to make sure your negative keywords are effective in guaranteeing you get the right type of traffic.

BONUS: Download a simplified version of this checklist as a PDF

Negative Keyword Checklist for before You Launch Your Campaign

The Basics of Negative Keywords

  • Have you built your negative keyword list?
  • Have you used the keyword planner to find negative keywords based on what people are already searching?
  • Have you added your negative keywords at an account, ad group, and campaign level?

The Account-Level General Keyword List

Regardless of the kind of business you run, I recommend adding a generic list filled with negative keywords that might not have anything to do with your business. For instance, you could add reference negative keywords like “about” or example” to avoid people seeking for just information about your industry and not your services. If you don’t offer discounted products consider adding keywords like cheap, or free, and so on. This way, you avoid catching a lot of irrelevant traffic right off the bat.

  • Have you added a general negative keyword list?
  • Did you think outside the box when creating this list?
  • Did you add random keywords that may not have anything to do with your industry?

To help you start out, here is a general negative keyword list I sometime use in my campaigns. Go through it carefully to make sure all of them are worth excluding to you.

Expand the Reach of Your Negative Keywords

  • Add the plural and singular versions of your negative keywords to maximize their impact.
  • Look for the main part of your long tail keyword you would like to exclude and add it in broad match.
  • Try and find a similar way to refer to your negative keywords and add them.

For example: if you use coupon as a negative keyword, try adding variations of it like discount code, or gift card.

Checklist for Expanding Your Negative Keyword List Once You Have Launched Your Campaign

Explore All the Different Match Types You Can Add Negative Keywords in

  • Have you used the search terms report to find terms that people use to find your ads?

The search terms report is a great way to see the queries entered to match your ads. Here you can notice how relevant your traffic is and exclude keywords that do not pertain to your business.

  • Remember to add negative keywords extracted from the search term report in broad match, or phrase match if it’s more than one word.

When adding keywords from the search terms report is easy just to add them in exact match. But doing this will only exclude that exact query, thus acquiring the right traffic will take a lot longer.

Be Proactive

  • Have you identified trends within your negative keywords? If you have, be proactive and expand your list based on such trends.

For example: If your store sells granite countertops, and you see people searching for “Formica Countertops” but you don’t carry that brand in your store, go ahead and investigate all the other possible brands you don’t carry and add them to your list.

  • Did you research all the possible negative keywords you could add based on the trends you identified? Pro tip: Do a search on websites related to yours and use tools like merge words to enhance your list.
  • Have you researched the keywords or negative keywords being used by your competitors? Pro tip: Try using Spyfu or SEMrush to find out this information.

Make All the Appropriate Adjustments in Your Campaigns

  • It is common to pause keywords as you optimize your campaign, but when you do, make sure you add the keyword you paused to your negative keyword list.
  • Remember to add your keywords at all pertinent levels:
  1. Campaign Level
  2. Ad group Level
  3.  Account Level

If You Are Running a Display Network Campaign

  • Do not add more than 50 negative keywords to your Display campaigns.
  • Do not add your regular keyword lists – Google will choose randomly from the active keywords if you have more than 50.