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Managing Negative Keyword Lists in 2023

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What are negative keyword lists?

Negative keyword lists are created to avoid unnecessary spending of your budget on poor quality and waste traffic. They are important to a campaign because without them, your account will spend much of your budget on what is classed as “waste”. Examples of waste in your campaigns could be your business’ competitors or locations in which you don’t want to show your product, as well as a range of other categories. As well as making sure your budget is spent appropriately, using negative keyword lists helps increase your ads’ click-through rate. This then gives you the best chance of acquiring a conversion or lead from your ads.

How to create a negative keyword list

When setting up a new campaign, you must create negative keyword lists. These can be created by going into “Tools and settings”, and then “Negative keyword lists”.

To create a negative keyword list from this point, you will need to click the blue plus, as seen below:

After creating a list and adding negative keywords, scroll to the bottom of your list and click ‘apply to campaigns’. You will need to choose which campaigns you want your negative keyword list to apply for.

How do I download negative keyword lists?

There are many ways in which you can find waste in search term reports. One way in which you can do this is by downloading your search term report in Excel and working through it to find what you wish to add as a negative. To find this, click on the keywords menu and go into search terms. From here you can download your search term report as a range of different files, we recommend downloading it in Excel.

Negative keyword match types

Once you have identified waste, you can add it to your negative keyword lists as either a broad, phrase or exact match. Adding a broad match negative keyword would usually be a singular word you want to exclude, for example: a place. To add a phrase match negative, you would use quotation marks, for example: “second hand”. Finally, to add an exact match, you will need to use [square brackets].

Common negative keyword list ideas:

  • General
  • Competitors
  • Countries
  • International Locations (international cities, towns)
  • UK Locations (UK cities and towns)
  • Deals (cheap, bargain, free)
  • Job-Related (career, apprenticeship, job)
  • DIY (how can I, homemade, how to)
  • Research/Academic (book, degree, definition)
  • Used (rental, refurbished, used)
  • Informational (blog, Wikipedia, weather)
  • Media (pdf, jpg, photo)
  • Websites (Amazon, eBay, TikTok)


Monitor and update your negative keyword list regularly:

Once you have created your negative keyword lists, you must monitor and update them regularly. Depending on how many searches your product gets will determine how regularly you may choose to update your list. We recommend that you check your search term report weekly or bi-weekly to keep on top of waste. By doing this, it ensures that your budget is being spent appropriately and you are getting the best value for your money.

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