What Are Negative Keywords?

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is one of the most valuable marketing opportunities for companies in all industries. It lets you reach new customers for only pennies per ad, and you don’t even pay for an ad unless someone visits your site.

With those levels of cost-effectiveness and affordability, you want every cent you spend to go toward getting qualified leads.

That’s why negative keywords are so important. On this page, we’ll talk about why negative keywords are important and how you can use them.

If you’d like to speak with a specialist, you can reach us at 888-601-5359.

Negative keywords explained

Negative keywords are words or phrases that people may search that indicate they’re not interested in your business.

These keywords are used in conjunction with any broad-match terms you target in a PPC campaign. When you add them to your list of negative keywords, you make sure your ad won’t show up for any unqualified searches.

For example, if you sell marketing software online, you want people to see your ad if they’re interested in buying marketing software. As a result, one of your broad-match terms might be “marketing software.”

However, unless you’re hiring, you probably don’t want people to see your ad if they’re looking for “marketing software jobs.”

In this instance, you’d use “jobs” as a negative keyword to make sure you don’t target people looking for employment. As a result, you narrow down the amount of people who see your ad, which eliminates unqualified traffic.

Why negative keywords are important

Negative keywords do two things: They save you money and keep your Google Ads quality score high.

How negative keywords save money

Negative keywords save you money by preventing unqualified traffic from clicking on your ads. This is hugely important in PPC, since you’re only charged when people click on your ad.

When unqualified people make you pay for your PPC ad, they’re unlikely to ever become customers, and that’s money down the drain. Regardless of how affordable a certain keyword is, you don’t want to waste your advertising budget. That’s why it’s so critical that you stop any unnecessary spending in PPC.

How negative keywords help quality score

Quality score is a number that represents how reliable you are as a Google advertiser. Only you and Google have open access to your quality score.

Whenever someone clicks on your ad, Google watches to make sure they stay on your page. If they click your ad and then immediately return to Google’s search page (instead of spending some time on your site), that’s called a “bounce.”

When you have a lot of bounces, Google thinks that you don’t supply relevant or compelling information, so they demote your quality score. With a low quality score, you have to pay more to achieve the same ad rank that you would’ve enjoyed for less money.

That means a good quality score is essential to running a cost-effective PPC campaign. And, by extension, that means every campaign needs negative keywords to get rid of irrelevant traffic.

Even if you don’t want to target someone’s demographic, you could lose quality score when you show up for popular searches and people don’t like what your page says. Then, you pay more money to attract less qualified traffic, and you can quickly run through your whole PPC budget in no time.

To avoid that marketing disaster, all you have to do is use negative keywords.

Common negative keywords

There are a handful of negative keywords that every PPC campaign should include in their negative keyword list.

These include any keywords that might indicate spam, pornography, other brands, or other associations that reputable businesses want to avoid.

negative keywords

“Free” is bad, since you don’t want to give away your products for free. “Cheap” is even worse, since it implies low cost and poor craftsmanship. “Nude” is a no-brainer. “YouTube” indicates that people want to see a video of your products or services, which means they probably aren’t ready to buy them yet. And “Craigslist” implies that a user is looking for second-hand or reduced-price goods, which you probably don’t offer.

Other negative keywords to consider

Those negative keywords probably won’t be enough to focus your PPC campaigns on qualified traffic, but the rest depend on your business and industry.

You may choose to exclude any competitor brand names so that you don’t show up in searches for other companies’ products. And, as stated above, employment-oriented words like “hire,” “job,” or “interview” are also red flags for unqualified traffic.

You can also remove education-related searches by adding terms like “class,” “school,” “course,” and others. Finally, you can remove information-based searches by cutting keywords like “review,” “how to,” “info,” and more.

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Over 90% of WebFX clients continue partnering with us into year 2 of their campaign.

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WebFX knows negative keywords

At WebFX, we work with PPC accounts every day. That means our team of marketing experts can figure out the perfect negative keywords to include on any campaign, regardless of your industry. If you want to get more qualified traffic for your site without blowing through your marketing budget, we’ll make it happen.

Contact us today to lay out a PPC plan for your business that’ll help you grow!