Creating campaigns in AdWords is easy. (Don’t agree? Here are some great Search, Gmail Ads, and Display campaign tutorials). Optimizing campaigns, on the other hand, still scratches the heads of most experienced AdWords advertisers. It’s also the most essential part of managing effective, profitable campaigns.

Since most advertisers start with broad match keywords & general display settings, we advise businesses to figure out where they definitely SHOULDN’T be advertising. The best place to start for campaign optimization is checking where your ads are showing on display & checking the search terms report for search campaigns.

In these reports, you may notice some strange results.

Oftentimes, broad match and even broad match modified campaigns are shown for some extremely irrelevant, even ridiculous search terms costing you money, time, and valuable impressions.

what keywords?
“We don’t even sell women’s shoes” -Ryan Gosling, probably

For example, your advertising your boutique men’s shoe store, targeting keywords like: high fashion men’s shoes, Chelsea boot men’s, men’s shoe boutique manhattan (hopefully with location targeting and a location extension). Your ad may show to locals searching for “women’s shoe boutique manhattan” or “how to open a shoe boutique”.

Though these may seem like extreme examples, it’s easy to imagine these searchers may see your ad and click through, only to find that your brunch special is completely irrelevant to them.

To combat this, you will want to do two things:

  1. Use the proper keyword match types
  2. Add “careers” and “how-to” or “diy” to your campaign as negative keywords.

Negative keywords are words searched into Google that you DO NOT want triggering your ads. There are four ways to add them to your campaign:

  1. In the campaign set-up, adding a minus [-] sign in front of the term instead of a plus [+] sign.
  2. From the search terms report (walkthrough here)
  3. Bulk add from the shared library
  4. Let AdHawk do it for you (Talk to us!)

We’re going to walk through the third way below. Here’s why: Over time, you will come across terms specific to your product or service that perpetually cost you money on AdWords. It’s important to keep a list of these words, because you can bulk-add them to all your AdWords campaigns using the shared library.

What kinds of words am I talking about? Here are some great categories you should consider:

  • Job Seekers:
    -hire -hiring -employment -employer -job -jobs -occupation -occuptions -careers -careers -fulltime -part time -work -resume(s) -salary -salaries -intern -recruiter
  • Not-ready-to-Buy searchers:
    • -free -cheap -ebay -craigslist -bargain -liquidation -quote
    • -learn -classes -school -tutorials -university -course -textbook -book -training
    • -reviews -rating -option -articles -info -pics -how-to -case study -journal -magazine -statistics -stats -white paper
    • -example -map -sample -definition -about -walkthrough -diy -homemade -how to make -crafts
    • -laws -legal -ip -regulations
  • NSFW [Not Suitable for Work] Queries:
    -nude -naked -sex -porn -porno -torrent -torrents -hack -hacks -shortcut

How to Bulk Add Negative Keywords in AdWords

  1. From the AdWords dashboard, head to the  Shared Library  at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar.
  2. Find the box for  Campaign Negative Keywords  and select View >>
  3. Click  +LIST 
  4. Name the list. We suggest calling it something around the general topic you are excluding.
  5. Enter all the keywords you don’t want to display for
  6. Click   Save  
  7. To add to your campaigns, click the box next to your new list and click  Apply to campaigns 
  8. Select the campaigns you would like to add these negative keywords to
  9. Click   Save  

Though we think it is important to run keyword discovery campaigns (broad match ads to discover new keywords for future ads), these campaigns will start to drain money from your account if you do not pay a visit to the search terms report and add some negative keywords to your campaign. What’s the point of discovery if you don’t do anything with that knowledge?

Specific questions about your account? Reach out anytime –

Image from: Nettra Marketing

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About the Author

Marketing and Growth Director at AdHawk. Helping business find confidence and success online, one hefty article at a time.