When it comes to digital marketing, there’s a lot of talk about keywords. Rightfully so. The proper keywords help drive organic traffic to your website. But did you know that negative keywords can be just as important in your digital marketing efforts?


Negative Keywords Meaning

Negative keywords are just what they sound like. They are keywords that you don’t want to select.

As Google explains, a negative keyword is “a type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase.”

These keywords are used primarily in ad campaigns.

While keywords are meant to draw people in, negative keywords are intended to refine your search so that you’re eliminating portions of the people targeted by your keywords. Maybe you want to eliminate all search queries that include the word “men’s,” or you want to eliminate all search queries that contain the word “boys.”

By adding a negative keyword, you are paring down your customer pool to the ideal pieces.


Benefits of Using Negative Keywords

While using these keywords may not apply in all situations, there are significant benefits to using them in some digital marketing campaigns.


Optimize Your Marketing Budget

One of the most significant benefits is the opportunity to optimize your marketing budget.

If you create an ad campaign with a list of keywords, you will get a large pool of people looking at your ad.

For example, let’s say you’re selling diamond rings. When you put “diamond rings” as a keyword search term, your ad will appear in front of anyone who uses the term “diamond rings” in their search query.

You can refine who sees your ad by adding a negative keyword like “cheap” or “discount.” Now, your ad will only be seen by people willing to pay the premium price for a diamond ring, not people looking for a deal.

By doing this, you’re spending fewer dollars on the people you don’t want to see your ad and more money on the people you want to target as customers.

What’s more, by putting your ad in front of your ideal customer, you’re improving the opportunity that someone will click on your ad.


Improved Conversion Rate

Using negative keywords is also helpful when it comes to making a sale. If too many of the wrong customers click on your ad, you pay for the marketing without seeing the backend conversion. In other words, your conversion rate goes down.

If you did not eliminate people looking for “discount” or “cheap” diamond rings, they might click on your ad only to find your rings are out of their price range. They leave without buying, and your conversion rate goes down.

Getting your ad in front of the right people not only encourages them to click but also makes the likelihood of a sale greater. When the ad is more relevant to the customer, the product will likely be more suitable as well.


Negative Keywords in Digital Marketing

So, how do you use them in digital marketing?

In Google Ads, you must already have an ad campaign created to add a negative keyword. Once the ad campaign is there, you can click the “+” button next to negative keywords and create a negative keyword list.

The nice thing about creating a list of these keywords in Google Ads is that you can apply it to as many or as few ad campaigns as you like. So, if you come up with a list that’s ideal for several different campaigns, you can simply choose the negative keywords list instead of creating a new one each time.


Free Negative Keyword List Generator

How do you generate negative keywords for your ad campaign? It’s not much different than generating keywords for your ad campaign.

One of the easiest ways to start finding them is to look for keywords. Some of those keywords will apply to your business or webpage. However, some will not, and you’ll eliminate them for one reason or another.

Guess what; those are negative keywords. You DO NOT want to attract customers who search for those keywords.

You can add the keywords you find to your keywords list and those you don’t want to your negative list.


Using Google Instant Search to Identify Negative Keywords

Another tool you can use to create negative keywords is the Google instant search tool. The tool is often used to identify LSI keywords (as explained in this previous article), but it can also identify those keywords.

In this method, you would type a few words into the search bar. Google’s instant search tool would offer you some words to complete your search query. Some of those words will be relevant keywords that you want people to search for, while others will be words that don’t apply to your service or product.

These are your negative keywords.


Some Examples

Sometimes it’s hard to understand the concept of negative keywords without seeing it first-hand. Below are some of the ways that negative keywords can aid in a search.


Negative Keywords Eliminate Poor Keyword Choices

Let’s return to my diamond ring business. When I look up keywords for diamond rings, I receive a list of suggestions, including “diamond rings for girls,” “diamond rings price,” “diamond rings for women,” diamond rings for sale,” “diamond rings for men,” diamond rings engagement,” “diamond rings near me.”

My diamond rings are expensive, so I don’t think I want “girls” wearing them. I might choose to add “diamond rings for girls” to my negative keywords list.


They Refine Your Search

Negative keywords don’t always have to be the opposite of your keywords. Sometimes, you just want to target a specific audience, and the negative keywords allow you to hone in on that particular audience.

For example, the diamond rings that I sell are only for men. Or, I only want to target men in this ad campaign. Then I would add “diamond rings for women” and “diamond rings for girls” to my negative list.

I would also add “diamond rings for men” to my keywords list.

By taking both of these steps, I guarantee that my search is more likely to reach the exact audience that I’m searching for.



While keywords are essential to any digital marketing campaign, negative keywords can be the major difference-maker.

I can use my digital marketing campaign to target particular customers through negative keywords, leading to a greater click-through rate and a more significant potential for a sale.


Written by Erika Towne