Sometimes it’s good to be negative. Thoroughly negative. You might not want to be negative when you’re out with friends, but when you’re managing the keywords for your PPC accounts, being negative can be a very good thing.

Negative keywords are an integral part of any successful PPC campaign, stopping your adverts from appearing when a search query includes a term that is not relevant to your ad.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are words you can add to your PPC account that will prevent your ads from showing if a search query includes them.

For example, if you added “blue” as a negative keyword, your ads would not show if someone searched for “blue sweater.”

How to find your negative keywords

We will talk about two ways you can find your negative keywords.

They are:

  • Search Query Report in your AdWords account
  • Use your market knowledge and common sense

Search Query Report in your AdWords account

This will tell you what people are searching for. What search queries are triggering your ads? If your ads are being shown for searches using terms that are unrelated to you, add them to your negative keyword list.

Use your market knowledge and common sense

You might already have an idea of the search queries that you don’t want to trigger your ads. This may include terms like cheap or free.

If  You Don’t Have A Negative Keyword List, You Are Wasting A Lot Of Money

Your paid search ads should only show to people that need your service. AdWords is designed to be super easy to set up, but hard to master.

I would love to see Google have an “Add Negative Keywords” required step for an ad campaign. Most business owners have no idea what a negative keyword is and almost none know where to find the setting.

I see many businesses throwing money away on searches that will never result in a sale.

How to Use Negative Keywords for PPC

Negative keywords, like regular keywords, can have different match types. So you can have quite a lot of control over which search queries trigger or don’t trigger your ads.

Negative keywords for PPC can use broad, phrase, and exact match types.

These work just like regular keyword match types (though negative keywords set for exact match work the old way negative matches used to work; hopefully Google will not make negative keywords work the way the new negative match type works.)

How to Add Negative Keywords to Your PPC Account

To see the negative keywords in your Google Ads account, go to the “Tools and Settings” option in the top grey navigation bar. Look for the screwdriver icon to find it.

Then click on “Negative keyword lists” in the pop-up menu. You can add your negative keywords in the next screen. You can also add negative keywords from within any campaign or within ad groups.

Short conclusion

PPC is part of the overall online marketing mix. If you are solely dependent on PPC for leads, once you turn off PPC, the leads will disappear.

Don’t get dependent on PPC. You need to be able lower your PPC budget during slow months and still get leads from people searching online.