Recently, I wrote an article on using the placement performance report within Google AdWords (and Amber recently wrote an article on trimming fat!). As a result of this article, there was a bit of discussion in regards to how granular the site exclusion tool can remove under performing websites from your campaign. I thought I would write a follow-up on this topic to discuss the various levels at which you can use this helpful tool.

Depending on how poorly a website is performing, you can exclude your ads from that website at various levels in order to enhance your performance.

Top level domain (example: If there are no sections of a site that generate a positive return, you can exclude the entire site at the top level domain. This way your ads will not appear on this site.

First level sub domain (example:, or There may be sub level domains that do not perform well. You can remove your ads at this level of a site. This means your ads will not be shown on the specific sub domain you exclude, but yours ads can still show on other sub domains within the site.

Single directory name (example:, or This is a deeper level of granularity at which you can remove your ads. With this option, you would remove your ads from but your ads could still appear on other sections of the such as or

Multiple directory name (example: This tactic is off the records and the AdWords help section even says that you can’t exclude your ads at this specific level within a site. I  included this tactic because I have done this in the past.

Just to confirm, I called my AdWords Reps to ask their thoughts on this tactic. They said that the multiple directory name exclusions I had inserted into a specific campaign seemed to be working okay. However, they had a caveat that AdWords can’t guarantee that excluding at this level will always work. So, even though the AdWords help section says you can’t exclude at the URL level, you can test it out. To test this method you can exclude the specific URL and then review your placement performance report to see if it worked. If it does, great! If not, you should re-evaluate and try the single directory exclusion.

When analyzing your placement performance report, I would suggest reviewing your performance at the single directory level. However, if an entire site is bad, just exclude the whole thing.

Category exclusion: The next three exclusion tactics have a broader stroke. You can exclude your site from entire categories  within the Google content network. Currently, the list of topics is not extremely robust, but this can be a very helpful tool. Here is the current list of categories from which  you can remove your ads:

  • Crime, police & emergency
  • Death & tragedy
  • Military & international conflict
  • Juvenile, gross & bizarre content
  • Profanity & rough language
  • Sexually suggestive content

Media types: Right now, this should be called “video content exclusion” because that is all you can do with this option currently. But this can be helpful when optimizing your performance on the content network.

Page types: This is another helpful way to exclude your ads. The page types that you can exclude from your distribution include:

  • Error pages
  • Parked domains
  • Forums
  • Image-sharing pages
  • Social networks
  • Video-sharing pages

The Google content network is vast and it can be a great source of traffic with a healthy ROI. Since this distribution has a great amount of traffic, you have to monitor your performance closely, and you have utilize all of the optimization tactics that are available in order to trim the fat from your account and to generate the best results.