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Our Insights > How to Build Negative Keyword Lists

How to Build Negative Keyword Lists

10 August 2021

Are you disappointed with the click-through rate of your latest PPC campaign?

It could be because you haven’t added negative keywords. Negative keywords allow you to regain control over your PPC campaign and stop showing your ads to the wrong people. In this article, I’ll show you how to effectively compile a negative keyword list, to ensure a better return on your next PPC campaign.


Why Negative Keywords?


Negative keywords prevent your ads from being triggered in a search engine, to make sure that your PPC spending is not wasted on fruitless clicks. The search engines will know not to show your ad to anyone whose search contains your negative keyword.

Negative keywords allow you to target your PPC campaigns and rule out the people that simple aren’t potential customers.

You might add the negative keyword ‘jobs’ to your PPC campaign, for example, to stop anyone job searching in your business area finding your page. This allows you to concentrate your PPC efforts on people that might buy your products and services. Unless you are looking for staff, of course!


Managing Your Negative Keyword Lists


Managing and constantly updating your negative keywords lists can be a time consuming task. You will also find that the same negative keywords start to appear in multiple campaigns or adgroups. To make things a little easier, I like to use the keyword list function in both adwords and Bing to make for easier management.

Negative keyword lists are managed in the shared library, and allow you to build up segmented list of keywords. I usually like to segment the lists into topical themes so as to make it easier to assign keywords to the correct list when adding new campaigns.

To build a negative keyword list, here’s what you need to do:


  1. Log in to Adwords.
  2. Click ‘Shared Library’ on the right hand side.
  3. Click ‘Keyword Lists’.
  4. Then click ‘New Keyword List’. A window will appear allowing you to paste in your negative keywords.


I use Google documents to build keyword lists. First, I’ll choose the match types I want included in the list then, once each keyword has been chosen, I copy column x and paste into the keyword list. It’s important to consider the appropriate match types to use, broad, “phrase” or [exact], each excluding in their own way. I frequently come across campaigns that are are under performing because they have chosen the wrong negative match type and are unintentionally excluding core terms. I recommend that when choosing the appropriate match type for a keyword, start with a exact match to maximise the chance of your ads showing in relevant searches.

Once you have the keyword list(s) configured you can apply them to the relevant campaign, by either selecting the list in shared library and clicking ‘apply to campaign’, or by clicking on the relevant campaign and manually selecting the list.


“In general, the broader the keyword matching option, the more traffic potential that keyword has.”



I will often use lists as campaigns are starting out, but if I find a number of keywords being used again and again in multiple adgroups, I’ll add those to their own list as well to make for easy replication.

If you would like to know more about building negative keyword lists, visit Google’s support page, or get in touch for your negative keyword audit today!