How to Find Negative Keywords: A Step-by-Step Guide to Improve Your Ad Campaigns

Negative keywords are the unsung heroes of digital advertising campaigns. While most advertisers focus on finding the right keywords to target, negative keywords play a crucial role in eliminating irrelevant traffic that wastes your advertising budget. But what are negative keywords, and how can you find them? In this guide, we will provide a step-by-step process to help you identify negative keywords that will improve your ad campaign’s efficiency and ROI.

What are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are search terms that you specify in your ad campaign to prevent your ads from being triggered by irrelevant searches. For example, if you sell luxury watches, you would not want your ads to appear for searches related to cheap or knockoff watches. By adding negative keywords like “cheap watches” or “replica watches,” you can prevent your ads from showing up for these searches, which will save your budget and improve your ad targeting.

Why are Negative Keywords Important?

Negative keywords are essential for two main reasons:

Prevents irrelevant traffic: By adding negative keywords to your campaigns, you can eliminate irrelevant traffic that is unlikely to convert. This improves your ad targeting, which increases the chances of converting prospects into customers.

Saves budget: By preventing irrelevant traffic, negative keywords save your budget from being wasted on clicks that are unlikely to lead to conversions.

How to Find Negative Keywords?

Finding negative keywords can be a daunting task, but it is a crucial step in improving your ad campaign’s performance. Here’s how to find negative keywords:

Identify irrelevant search terms: The first step in finding negative keywords is to identify irrelevant search terms that trigger your ads. These are the searches that are unlikely to lead to conversions or are not relevant to your business.

Use Google Ads Search Terms Report: The Google Ads Search Terms Report is a powerful tool that provides insights into the search terms that triggered your ads. Use this report to identify irrelevant search terms that need to be added as negative keywords.

Analyze your website analytics: Analyzing your website analytics can also provide insights into the search terms that lead to irrelevant traffic. Look for search terms with a high bounce rate or low conversion rate and add them as negative keywords.

Competitor Analysis: Analyze your competitor’s ads and website to identify search terms that they are targeting. Use this information to add negative keywords that prevent your ads from appearing for irrelevant searches.

Benefits of Using Negative Keywords

Using negative keywords can have several benefits, including:

Cost savings: By preventing your ads from showing up for irrelevant searches, you can save money on ad spend.

Improved click-through rate (CTR): When your ad shows up for the right searches, it’s more likely to be clicked on, improving your CTR.

Better conversion rate: When your ad shows up for relevant searches, it’s more likely to lead to a conversion, improving your ROI.

Best Practices for Using Negative Keywords

Here are some best practices for using negative keywords:

Regularly review and update negative keyword lists: Search terms and trends change over time, and your negative keyword lists should reflect these changes. Regularly review and update your negative keyword lists to ensure that you are not wasting budget on irrelevant clicks.

Use match types: Google Ads provides different match types for negative keywords, including broad match, phrase match, and exact match. Use these match types to control when your ads do not appear.

Use negative keyword lists: Negative keyword lists are a convenient way to manage negative keywords across multiple campaigns or ad groups. Use negative keyword lists to save time and ensure consistency across your campaigns.


Q: How many negative keywords should I add to my campaigns?

A: The number of negative keywords you should add depends on the size and complexity of your campaigns. Start with a few essential negative keywords and gradually add more as you identify irrelevant traffic.

Q: Can negative keywords impact my ad’s quality score?

A: Negative keywords do not directly impact your ad’s quality score. However they can indirectly impact your quality score by improving your ad targeting and click-through rate, which are factors that contribute to your ad’s quality score.

Q: Can I add negative keywords to specific ad groups?

A: Yes, you can add negative keywords to specific ad groups or campaigns. This allows you to tailor your negative keywords to each ad group’s specific targeting.


Negative keywords are a crucial element of a successful digital advertising campaign. By identifying and adding negative keywords, you can eliminate irrelevant traffic, save your advertising budget, and improve your ad targeting. Follow the steps outlined in this guide, and use the best practices to find and use negative keywords effectively. Remember to regularly review and update your negative keyword lists to ensure that your campaigns are targeting the right audience. By doing so, you can improve your ad campaign’s efficiency, drive conversions, and achieve a higher ROI.


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