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Negative keywords can often be one of the biggest answers to avoiding wasted costs on a Google Ads campaign. 

In this blog post we will be exploring exactly what is a negative keyword, how to implement them into your Google Ads campaigns and some top tips on how to find them.


A negative keyword lets you exclude certain search terms from your campaign and only include the words that matter most to your business. Think about the intent of someone searching for your product or service and what people you want to see your ad.

Let’s use a real-life example.

Say you provide a service where you fix and repair drains. You receive two clicks on your Google Ad, one of the searches was “drain repair near me” and another one was “drain repair DIY”. 

Both searches activated your ad, but both have very different levels of intent.

The first searcher is actively looking for someone who provides your service. Whilst the second person is looking for tips on how to do drain repairs themselves.

They’re a wasted click, and a wasted click is wasted money.

But, if we include the keywords “DIY” or “do it yourself” as negative keywords, then our ad would not have activated.

person typing on thier laptop looking for negative keywords


You can use negative keywords at the campaign level or Ad Group level within your campaign. Or… create a negative keyword list Which makes your campaign structure look a lot tidier.

To create a negative keyword list, follow these simple steps:

1.      Go to tools & settings.

2.      Under shared library click on ‘negative keyword lists’.

3.      Hit the big blue plus sign.

4.      Give your list a name you can remember.

5.      Go back to the campaign you want to use your negative keyword list.

6.      Hit on ‘keywords’ and then onto ‘negative keywords’.

7.      Press the blue plus sign again and tick ‘use negative keyword list’.

8.      Select the list you choose before, and click save.

9.      Continue to monitor your account and adding keywords to the list you don’t want your ads to appear for.

Keeping an updated negative keyword list is one of the fastest ways to save money in your campaign.

Clicks are valuable to your campaign, and your clicks deserve the best searches.


Adding negative keywords to your campaign from the start can save you a lot of money in the long run; essentially mitigating the risk before it has even happened.

Start by thinking of words that seem pretty obvious that you don’t want to associate with your ads. Words like ‘free’ or ‘DIY’. Leave them for your competitors who haven’t implemented a negative keyword list.

The next thing to do is go to the Google search bar. Start typing in your product or service and then the letter A. 

Google automatically generates the top searches for your product or service followed by the letter A. You will find some hidden gems of words to add to your negative keyword. Repeat this process going through the alphabet.

Next – let’s eliminate your competitors. Now… this is a questionable decision. Should you bid on your competitors’ names as keywords?

It really depends on the industry. But most of the time, I would recommend adding them as negative keywords.

woman on her phone looking for negative keywords


If you are a local business, go to Google Maps and go to your location. Do a search for your product or service. Let’s use the example of a dentist. Go through and add your competitor’s dental surgeries to your list – ‘Pierce’s Dentists’, ‘Jones And Sons Dentists’ and so on.

However, be careful when you see Dentists that use locations within their names. For instance, I live in a place called Crosby (lovely little beachside town). There is a Dentist called ‘Crosby Dentists’. If I include this business in my negative keyword list, I will lose searches for ‘dentists in Crosby’ or ‘emergency tooth repair Crosby’.

These people aren’t looking for this particular practice, but for someone who offers the service I am advertising in my campaign.

Finally, monitor your account once it’s up and running.

For lots of campaigns, exact match keywords don’t gather enough impressions or our highly competitive. You need to use phrase & broad match keywords to get longer searches. 

This comes with the risk of your ads appearing for search queries which will cost you money. But implementing your negative keywords allows you to take more control.

Continue to monitor the search terms that come through, add irrelevant keywords to your list and save yourself money.


One of the first campaigns I ran on Google Ads was recruiting for dancing instructor jobs abroad.

In the first two weeks I wasted £40 on terms such as ‘lap dancing jobs’, ‘strip dancing jobs’, & ‘pole dancing jobs’.

£40 down the drain on virtual exotic dancers, just because I hadn’t identified any negative keywords.


This is a good starting point to gather words to add to your negative keyword list. I have also left attached a free list of 92 of the most commonly used negative keywords, which you can use for your campaign. But be careful, some of these words might not be relevant to your business. So double-check before implementing them.

  • Amazon
  • Answers
  • Apps
  • Benefits
  • Blogs
  • Books
  • Cheap
  • Cheapest
  • Checklist
  • Code
  • Company
  • Copy
  • Costs
  • Discount
  • Deals
  • Definition
  • Description
  • DIY
  • Downloads
  • Essay
  • Exam
  • Example
  • Facebook
  • Facts
  • Form
  • Forum
  • Franchise
  • Free
  • GIF
  • Gifts
  • Google
  • Groupon
  • Guide
  • Guidelines
  • Hiring
  • History
  • Hours
  • Ideas
  • Industry
  • Information
  • Interview
  • Islam
  • Jobs
  • Jokes
  • List
  • Logo
  • London
  • Magazine
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Meaning
  • Mobile
  • Movie
  • Network
  • News
  • Online
  • PDF
  • Pictures
  • Plan
  • Price
  • Process
  • Reading
  • Regulation
  • Rental
  • Reviews
  • Rules
  • Salary
  • Sale
  • Sample
  • Software
  • Synonym
  • Template
  • Terminology
  • Test
  • Tips
  • Tools
  • Training
  • Trustpilot
  • USA
  • Vacancies
  • Video
  • Voucher
  • VS
  • Why
  • Wiki
  • Wikipedia
  • Work
  • X
  • Yahoo
  • Yelp
  • Yourself
  • YouTube

Give it a go and let us know how you get on or if you don’t have the time or desire to go it alone, contact one of our Paid Search Execs now!

Written by Josh Pierce.

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