Being nagative in AdWords negative keywords is good adviceMichael Jordan was once quoted as saying: “I never thought a role model should be negative.” Well that may be true in life but certainly not when it comes to optimizing AdWords campaigns! In fact, Negative Keywords are often the key to a highly successful campaign.

This blog introduces our first in a series of articles on Negative Keywords.

Here’s a quick overview of Negative Keywords.

AdWords campaign managers use negative keywords to prevent their ads from showing up on certain search terms that have no relevance to their business. Eliminating these unwanted keywords means that you can leverage more of your budget to optimize on the keywords that give you the highest ROI.

Here’s an example of a negative keyword in action:

You are a retailer of car GPSs. You sell specific product lines and models of GPS units produced by different manufacturers.

The keywords you want to optimize are: Auto GPS, Car GPS, BestBrand GPS, and BestBrand 43LM.

You want to optimize for keywords that describe the product types you sell, as well as the brands and models you sell.

But the keywords that you don’t want your ad to show up on search include -free, -app, -watch, -CheapBrand, and -55LM.

You want to include negative keywords that will eliminate unwanted traffic triggered by your keywords. In this example you would want to prevent your ad from displaying if someone searches “free car gps app” as you do not have apps nor do you offer free products. By adding the negative keywords “free” and “app” to your campaign you will accomplish this. Other examples of suitable negative keywords to add are product types, brands and models you do not sell.

In this blog article by WebMechanix, they have shared the published list of keywords. It’s a mega list divided by the following categories and is a definite must read for “Negative Keywords 101” learning:

  1. Weed out job seekers
  2. Nix researchers, reference searches & statisticians
  3. Unless you’re a school or training company, you’ll probably want to exclude these keywords
  4. No bargains here! These are good if you’re a premium provider
  5. Price shoppers? No thanks
  6. How can I…waste this advertiser’s money? Bye-bye DIY…
  7. Software & high-tech…a bit tricky, read over these carefully & avoid the negatives that don’t apply to you
  8. Manufacturers & industrial
  9. Products & materials
  10. Legal / law
  11. Transportation & travel
  12. Negative keywords for B2B advertisers
  13. And of course the unwanted geographies! (Be careful to not exclude the geographies you want! NOTE: MD/DC/VA are last as we do most of our work there 🙂

Ok, the above list in its expanded form on is a great reference source. But it’s just that – an archeological dig in the digital age! How do you find the negative keywords that are impacting your AdWords campaigns? Better yet, are they impacting your campaigns only slight or severely?

If you don’t want to spend a massive amount of hours digging through your keyword logs to track down your most impactful (or wasteful!) negative keywords, then I’d encourage you to try Adigence, our AdWords campaign optimizer.

Adigence tracks the full search queries entered by visitors. It uses a proprietary text analytics algorithm to discover and report on text patterns with poor visitor value. Then it recommends these as candidates for you to consider for inclusion in your AdWords campaigns as negative keywords.

The screenshot below is an example of Adigence reporting the analyzed search queries for the suggested negative keyword “gander” for a retailer who sells the Canada Goose brand of winter coats. This retailer is unfortunately receiving (and paying for!) unwanted traffic from users looking for a different store in a different market.AdWords-Negative-Keywords-Report-from-Adigence


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