In addition to geotargeting, another effective way to target your audience with Google Adwords and your PPC campaign is building a negative keyword list. A negative keyword list is simply a list of keywords that you don’t want to bid on. Common negative keywords include terms such as “free” or adult-related search terms.

Building up a negative keyword list helps maximize your return on investment (ROI) by preventing your business from bidding on keywords that aren’t effective at generating business. If you’re in the middle of a PPC campaign and you haven’t set up your negative keyword list, stop throwing your money away, and spend a little time optimizing your PPC campaign performance to help generate a betting ROI.

Basics of Negative Keywords

As you’re probably already aware, PPC (Google/Bing/Yahoo) works much like an auction. The bidder who is willing to spend the most money wins the better position on search result pages. However, bidding on all terms may not be the best plan. For example, take a communications company: Does communications mean public relations or telecommunications? Negative keywords prevent your ad from appearing in undesired search results.

Finding Negative Keywords

There are quite a few pre-built negative keywords you can search for on Google that include common terms most companies don’t want to bid for. Using these is a great basic step, but take a moment to look at the actual keyword query data provided by Google in Google Search Console and see what keywords might be generating impressions for your business but are not in line with what you offer.

Then use keyword tools like Google’s keyword planner to find related terms that users search for but that you don’t want to bid for. You can also use tools like, which generates all the auto-populated search terms that users have typed into Google.

Get creative with your negative keywords. For example, if your company is renting out office space, there was a movie named Office Space that made a fairly large impact with audiences in North America. But users searching for the movie Office Space won’t have any interest in your available office space. Do your research and identify different ways users are searching for information that includes related keywords.

Don’t Have Time for In-Depth Research?

If you’re running short on time, use the free Negative Keyword Tool by WordStream. Simply enter a keyword related with your business, and it will generate a list of negative keyword possibilities. Be sure to review the list, though, just to be sure you aren’t adding an ideal keyword to your negative keyword list.

Continue Building Your List

We recommend reviewing at least every week your campaigns and the search terms that are generating impressions and clicks on your campaigns. Doing so will help your content team with content ideas to add to your website. It will also help build your negative keyword list by identifying actual search terms users used to click on ads recently.

Building negative keyword lists can be boring work, but have a little fun while doing so. Start a collection of funny keywords users have searched for and post it around your office for your team to see!