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How to find negative keywords

How to Find Negative Keywords

This blog post details how to find negative keywords and add them to your Pay Per Click campaigns in either Google AdWords or Bing Ads. This is the second blog post in a series of three. Read What are Negative Keywords or skip to The Ultimate Negative Keywords List.

Google or Bing Search
A really simple way to find negative keywords is by searching for them! As you type your keyword in the search engine what phrases does it suggest? What related searches does it show?


Negative Keywords Search In Google

Google search showing suggestions (click to enlarge)


Negative Keywords Related Searches In Google

Google related searches (click to enlarge)


Negative Keywords Search In Bing

Bing search suggestions (click to enlarge)


Negative Keywords Related Searches In Bing

Bing related searches (click to enlarge)


Keyword Planner tool
You can use the keyword planner tool in either AdWords or Bing Ads to find negative keywords.


AdWords Keyword Planner

AdWords Keyword Planner (click to enlarge)


Bing Keyword Planner

Bing Keyword Planner (click to enlarge)


Search Terms reports
If you are already running a pay per click campaign in AdWords or Bing Ads, the search terms report shows you the exact search phrase used to trigger the display of your ads. In this report you can select any search term and add it to your campaign, ad group or a Shared Library list as a negative keyword. However, always check whether a search term has converted in the past otherwise you could be about to block a profitable search term!


AdWords Search Terms Report

AdWords Search Terms Report (click to enlarge)


Bing Search Terms Report

Bing Search Terms Report (click to enlarge)


Are your negative keywords really negative?

Here’s an example from the software sector. Most SaaS companies offer a time limited free trial followed by a paid subscription. Although the software must be paid for at some point, using ‘free’ as a negative keyword could result in either missed sales opportunities or a cost saving. In either case, the outcome will depend on whether trials based on ‘free’ related searches subsequently convert to profitable paid subscriptions. There’s only one way to find out: test and measure.


How to add negative keywords to your AdWords or Bing campaign

  1. Choose the campaign or ad group
  2. Click the Keywords tab
  3. Click the Negative keywords button
  4. Click the + Keyword button under Ad group level or Campaign level
  5. Enter one negative keyword per line
  6. Do not prefix with a minus sign!
  7. As with ‘postive’ keywords, use “quote marks” for phrase matches and [square brackets] for exact matches


Adding ad group level negative keywords in Google AdWords

Adding ad group level negative keywords in Google AdWords (click to enlarge)


What are the most common negative keywords?

Read the next blog post in this series to learn what are the most common negative keywords and download the ultimate list of negative keywords.


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Founder & CEO

Paul is Founder & CEO of 47 Insights. He has been helping software and publishing subscription companies with growth strategies since 1995.

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