Negative Keyword Research

Negative keyword research
Table of Contents

Unlocking Ad Campaign Success: The Art of Negative Keyword Research

Negative keyword research is like having a secret weapon in your advertising arsenal. It allows you to filter out those pesky and irrelevant search terms, giving you the power to optimise your ad campaigns, boost your conversion rates, and make every penny of your advertising budget count. 

Think of negative keyword research as your trusty compass, guiding you through the vast landscape of online advertising. By identifying and excluding keywords that have nothing to do with your offerings, you can fine-tune your targeting and ensure that your ads are only seen by the most relevant audience. This makes your campaigns more efficient and increases your chances of attracting qualified leads who are itching to become your loyal customers.

In this blog, we’ll show you how to spot those irrelevant keywords, unleash the power of various tools and techniques to uncover hidden gems, and strategically implement negative keywords to maximise ad spend. 

Let’s get right into it:

The Importance Of Negative Keyword Research

Negative keywords are specific terms or phrases you exclude from your ad campaigns. When a user’s search query includes negative keywords, your ads won’t be triggered, ensuring your budget is allocated towards more relevant clicks. 

There are many benefits of negative keyword research; these include:

  1. Reducing irrelevant traffic and improving ad campaign efficiency: By excluding irrelevant search terms, you can ensure that the most qualified audience sees your ads. This leads to higher click-through rates, improved campaign performance, and a higher likelihood of conversions.
  2. Enhancing ad targeting and increasing conversion rates: Negative keyword research helps you refine your targeting by directing your ads to the right audience. When your ads are shown to people actively seeking what you offer, the chances of converting them into customers significantly increase.
  3. Saving advertising budget by preventing wasted clicks: Every click on your ads costs money. By eliminating irrelevant clicks through negative keyword research, you can maximise your advertising budget by focusing on clicks with a higher potential for conversion, ultimately increasing your return on investment (ROI).

How To Perform Negative Keyword Research

Performing negative keyword research is crucial in optimising your ad campaigns and ensuring you’re attracting the right audience. To effectively conduct negative keyword research, follow these steps:

Review Existing Keyword Lists And Ad Performance Data

Start by analysing your current keyword lists and reviewing the performance data of your ads. Look for patterns or trends that indicate the presence of irrelevant search terms triggering your ads and generating low-quality clicks. Pay attention to keywords that consistently result in high bounce rates, low conversion rates, or irrelevant website traffic.

Analyse Search Terms And Identifying Irrelevant Keywords

To gain deeper insights, utilise analytics tools to examine the search terms triggering your ads. Google Ads, for example, provides a Search Terms Report that shows the search queries that triggered your ads. 

Identify keywords irrelevant to your offerings or those not aligned with your campaign goals. Look for keywords that may indicate informational searches, unrelated products or services, or searches indicating a lack of purchase intent.

Use Keyword Research Tools To Discover Negative Keywords

In addition to analysing your existing data, leverage keyword research tools to discover additional negative keywords. Platforms like Google Ads Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Moz, or Ahrefs can provide valuable insights into popular search queries and help you identify terms to exclude. 

The tools allow you to explore related keywords, search volume, competition, and user intent, aiding you in finding negative keywords that may have been overlooked during your initial analysis.

Implement The Negative Keywords In Ad Campaigns

Once you have compiled a list of negative keywords, it’s time to implement them into your ad campaigns. You can add negative keywords at the campaign or ad group levels depending on your campaign structure and organisation.

  • Campaign-level negative keywords: Apply these negative keywords to an entire campaign, ensuring that your ads are not triggered by any search query containing those terms. This is useful when the negative keyword applies broadly to all the ad groups within the campaign.
  • Ad group-level negative keywords: Apply these negative keywords to specific ad groups within a campaign. This allows for more precise targeting by excluding certain keywords from specific ad groups while allowing them to trigger ads in other ad groups within the campaign.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

While negative keyword research can greatly enhance your ad campaign’s performance, avoiding common mistakes hindering your efforts is important. Here are some pitfalls to steer clear of:

Overusing Broad Negative Keywords

Using broad negative keywords can inadvertently block relevant traffic. While they help filter out irrelevant searches, avoid going overboard and excluding potential phrases and terms customers may use. Continuously monitor your campaign’s performance and adjust your negative keyword strategy to balance filtering out irrelevant traffic and capturing valuable prospects.

Neglecting Regular Monitoring and Updates

The search landscape constantly evolves, with new search terms emerging while others become less relevant. Failing to review and update your negative keyword lists regularly can result in missed opportunities or allow irrelevant traffic to slip through. Stay proactive by monitoring your campaign’s performance, staying informed about industry trends, and updating your negative keyword lists accordingly.

Neglecting Testing and Iteration

Negative keyword research is an ongoing process that requires experimentation and iteration. Don’t settle for a single set of negative keywords. Test different variations, match types, and exclusions to see how they impact your campaign’s performance. Measure the results and gather data-driven insights to refine your strategy continually. By embracing a culture of testing and iteration, you can optimise your campaigns for better results.


Negative keyword research is a vital strategy for online advertisers seeking to optimise the performance of their ad campaigns. By filtering out irrelevant traffic, you can enhance ad targeting, boost conversion rates, and maximise your advertising budget’s impact. 

Remember to conduct regular keyword audits, employ match types effectively, analyse competitor campaigns, and utilise analytics to measure the impact of your negative keyword strategy. 

By implementing these best practices and learning from real-world examples, you can achieve better results and drive meaningful, qualified traffic to your website. Stay proactive, adapt to changing trends, and leverage the power of negative keyword research to supercharge your ad campaigns and maximise your return on investment.

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