Negative Keyword Tool – The Right Way to Generate Negative Keywords

A negative keyword tool is used to identify and set negative keywords in AdWords – a practice that's crucial to PPC success. It ensures you're not bidding on low-value keywords that will reduce your click-through rate and lead to wasted ad dollars.

The problem is, the standard ways of finding negative keywords are not only slow and tedious, they're incomplete. These methods set you up for failure because of all the potential negative keywords you miss.

There's only one negative keyword tool on the market that addresses all your negative keyword discovery needs. You want a negative keyword tool that:

  • Finds all your negative keywords, not just a fraction
  • Lets you designate negative keywords quickly, easily and in batches
  • Continuously suggests new negative keywords every day
  • Provides the option to automatically filter out negative keywords based on rules you set

That tool is WordStream. In the coming paragraphs, you'll learn the shortcomings of other negative keyword suggestion options and how WordStream leaves them in the dust.


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The Problem with Other Negative Keyword Tools and Approaches

The old way of discovering negative keywords was very low-tech – search marketers would just sit around and brainstorm. For example, take a pet supply store engaged in e-commerce sales. You're getting lots of good traffic from keyword phrases that include animal names like “cat,” “dog,” “bird” and so on.

If you're following PPC best practices, you're probably using Google AdWords' broad match or phrase match option, so you can capture all kinds of pet-related search queries, not just the ones you've had the presence of mind to think of. But not every animal-based keyword is going to be relevant or profitable for your business. People searching on “cat burglar” and “top dog” are probably not in the market for pet supplies.

Bad news: If “cat burglar” isn't set as a negative term in your ad group for “cat,” you're bidding on it for no reason! That's why it's so important to designate negative keywords and save your money for keywords that might actually convert.

Imagine if you had to come up with a complete list of every negative keyword that a pet supply store would need. The list for “fish” alone would take hours or days (“cold fish” … “fish recipes” … “how to fish”), and you'd still never be sure that you hadn't left some terms out. And that's just one animal. It's an impossible task!

That's where a negative keyword suggestion tool comes in. Google AdWords does offer a search query report that lets you set negative keywords for an ad group, but it's far from ideal. The report, as pictured below, requires you to look at every single keyword and make a decision on whether or not to designate it as negative. That's all fine and good if you're only looking at a few keywords. But a report on a typical account could return hundreds, even thousands of queries. Going through all of them is going to be a very long and very annoying process.

Using Google's Search Query Report as a Negative Keyword Tool

That's not the only problem with Google's negative keyword tool. The report is also incomplete – it rolls up some of your clicks into a group marked “other queries”:

You Can't See the Other Negative Keywords in Google's Tool

You can't see what those other queries are, and you can't take any action on them. So you'll always be missing some percentage of your negative keywords – spending money needlessly and hurting your ROI in the process.

There's one more problem with using Google's search query report as a negative keyword tool: It's reactive, not proactive. You can only set terms as negative keywords after they (mis)lead a visitor to your site. At that point you've already paid for the click.

The Solution: WordStream's Negative Keyword Tool

WordStream offers an innovative, free negative keyword tool that will help you lower costs and improve results for more effective, relevant, and budget-friendly PPC campaigns.

WordStream's negative keyword tool is unique because it empowers you to:

  • Eliminate wasteful ad spend before it starts by proactively setting negative keywords and match types.
  • Save time and increase productivity by identifying whole clusters of related negative keyword candidates rather than single instances of negative terms.
  • Efficiently manage negative keyword research by using the same tool to find, and review negative keywords and upload changes directly to your AdWords account.

Let's take a look at how this works.

negative keyword tool

When you enter a keyword in the Free Negative Keyword Tool, it mines our massive keyword database of more than a trillion search queries for modifiers that may not be relevant to your offerings. You can then review these terms and tell the tool whether or not they are relevant to your campaigns.

For example, if you own a stationery business, you might want to create an ad group to sell notebooks. The Free Negative Keyword Tool suggests clusters of terms that may trigger your "notebook" ads. As you can see, most of the terms are related to notebook computers, not spiral notebooks! You wouldn't want to bid on these computer-related terms. It would be a total waste of your ad spend.

To eliminate these keywords from your campaigns, simply click "no" to add a term to the list of negative keywords in the right-hand pane. Once you upload your list to AdWords, you can rest assured that those queries won't match against your ad in the future—and they won't cost you a cent.

Negative Keyword List

You can also set the match type of each negative keyword as part of this process. For example, if the keyword in question is "hard drive":

  • Broad match means that any search queries containing the words "hard" and "drive" will be filtered out.
  • Phrase match means that any queries containing the phrase "hard drive" (in that order) will be filtered out.
  • Exact match means that only the exact query "hard drive" will be filtered out.

You can also set terms as positives by clicking "yes" in the review pane. This ensures that keywords that are relevant to your business don't end up on your negative keyword list.

Unlike other negative keyword tools and methods, WordStream's free tool:

  • Suggests potential negative keywords, so you don't have to start from scratch.
  • Allows you to set terms as negative before you pay for them.
  • Lets you add negative keywords in groups, versus one by one.

A Reactive and Proactive Negative Keyword Strategy

Using WordStream for PPC, our pay-per-click management software, you'll have access to even more negative keyword features.

  • Savings Alerts tell you exactly where you're wasting money in your PPC campaigns and how to get to the root of the problem. You'll even know exactly how much money you'll save by setting negative keywords in each ad group.
  • WordStream uses data from both our trillion-keyword database and your own search query reports to enable both backward-looking (reactive) and forward-looking (proactive) negative keyword research.
  • Unlike AdWords search query reports, our software shows you 100% of the queries that are triggering your ads, but in a clustered, organized fashion to save you time.
  • We look at your own keyword conversion data to prioritize the negative keyword contender list.
  • Direct integration with your Google AdWords account via an API means that you can quickly and easily set and manage negative keywords.

So you can get the job done efficiently and completely. And once you set a rule for a negative term, you'll never have to bother with that term again. Any other related keywords that may enter your keyword database in the future will automatically be filtered out of the keyword group and out of your life. You can use the tool to set negative keywords for just one group or your entire account. See how a little automation can save you a ton of time and effort (not to mention money) for search advertising?

Plus, the more you use the negative keyword tool, the smarter it gets. As the keyword tool “learns” what's important to you over time, it makes more intelligent negative keyword suggestions, saving you even more time.

Remember, you don't have to wait until someone clicks on your ad to discover every negative keyword. You can use WordStream's keyword suggestion tool to add potential keywords to your database and designate negative keywords before they have a chance to affect your AdWords account.

WordStream's negative keyword tool works to keep your keyword and ad groups as tight, clean and relevant as possible, so negative keywords can't drag down your click-through rate, Quality Score, and return on investment.

Try WordStream's Negative Keyword Tool Free!

Sign up for a free trial of WordStream – you'll get first-hand evidence of how much time and money you can save with a faster, easier, smarter negative keyword tool. Try it now to start ramping up your ad groups' relevance and your marketing team's productivity.