Positives of the Negative: Using negative keywords to enhance your campaign’s performance

Using negative keywords in your campaigns allows you to filter out unwanted or irrelevant traffic to your site. Negative keywords eliminate the chances that your ads might show up for a keyword that you don’t offer. Negative keywords can help you control the clicks you receive, so they remain relevant clicks, and you’re only paying for relevant traffic.

Of course, you don’t want to overdo your negative keyword list; therefore, it is important to do a little negative-keyword research first. In Google, under the Keyword tool, you can enter keywords for your ad group that are relevant, and if you click on the drop-down “possible negative keywords,” then run your search, it will bring up possible negative keywords for your keyword search.

Here is an example: If you’re an e-commerce site selling only women’s shoes and someone types in kids’ shoes or men’s shoes, you want to make sure that one of your ads are not triggered by these keywords. So you would add “kids” and “mens” to your negative-keyword list.

Also, there is a pool of general negative keywords that would be applicable for most campaigns. Here is a short list to consider:


We have found that users who are searching for “free” or “cheap” tend not to be the highest-converting traffic.

How to Add Negative Keywords to your Campaigns

In Google it’s really easy. Click on the campaign to which you want to add negative keywords. Under the tools link, click on the link that says Edit Campaign Negative Keywords. At this point you can then simply add your negative keywords into the box that says Enter Words Manually, and then click Add Keywords.

The Yahoo! keyword tool works differently from Google’s. They do not necessarily have a negative-keyword generator, but they have alternatives to this.

When building your keyword list, you can insert a small sample list within the Find Keywords field. You can then use the field Specify Words That Must not Appear in Any of the Keywords, and your negative keywords will not appear in your keyword list. For example, you could type in “used books” within the Find Keywords field, and then you can type in “rare,” “audio,” and “technical,” and these words will be excluded from your list.

Also, you can do the opposite with your keyword research: you can use the field Specify Words That Must Appear in Each Keyword. When you choose this option, your keyword list will contain keyword variations with only your required phrase. For example, within the Find Keyword field you can type in “publisher,” “book publisher,” “literary publisher,” and within the Specify Words That Must Appear in Each Keyword field you type “children.” Here is your keyword list:

child book publishing
child book publisher
publish child book
child book
child publisher
child book publishing company
self-publishing child book
story for child
child book printing
self-publish child book
child picture book publisher
the child
publisher of child story
child author
child picture book
gift for child
child story book
child storybook
Christian child book publisher
how to write and publish child book
how to get a child book published
child literature publisher
child publishing

Within Yahoo!’s interface, if you know the list of negative keywords and you want to insert them directly into your ad group, you can just go into your Tactic Settings at the ad group level and set your “excluded keywords” on the right side of the page.