Negative Keyword Tool Help: What Are Negative Keywords and How Do I Use Them?

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Free Negative Keyword Tool (please note, this tool has been retired. However, please feel free to navigate to that page to learn all about negative keywords and how to implement them in your advertising campaigns). To skip ahead, please make use of the table of contents below. If you have a question not listed here, shoot us a note and we'll be sure to answer it and add it to the list.

Free Negative Keyword Tool FAQ Topics


Q:  What is a negative keyword?

A:  A negative keyword is a PPC match type (or keyword targeting option) offered by most search engine advertising platforms, including Google AdWords. Negative keywords allow you to selectively filter who sees your ad, based on their search queries.


Q:  Why should I use negative keywords?

A:  Use negative keywords when you want to ensure that your ad doesn't show for a particular word. By preventing your ad from showing on irrelevant searches, you save money on wasted clicks and create more opportunities for it to display on searches that are relevant and could lead to conversions.


Q:  What are the benefits of effectively using negative keywords?

A:  The benefits of effectively using negative keywords in your PPC campaigns include:


Q:  When should I do negative keyword research?

A:  Negative keyword research should be an ongoing process just like regular keyword research, but here are three common scenarios:

  • Before a PPC campaign is launched - This is considered proactive negative keyword research. By brainstorming and researching all the different irrelevant searches your ad could be shown on, and setting those negatives before you launch, you can save money on wasted clicks, and prevent the detrimental effect they have on your Quality Score.
  • Once a campaign is live - This is considered reactive negative keyword research because it is in response to irrelevant searches that your ad has already matched against. Within the first few days of a campaign going live, you should mine your search query reports for keywords with high impressions and low clicks.
  • On an ongoing basis - Many PPC marketers do negative keyword research on a weekly basis, but negative keyword research at any time can only help a live campaign. Mine search query reports for dips in conversion rate or Quality Score. These are indicators that your ads are being shown on irrelevant searches and negatively impacting your campaign performance.


Q:  How does the Free Negative Keyword Tool work?

A:  Just enter a topic and the tool will generate a list of negative keyword contenders for you to review. Click No to add them to your list of negative keywords, then enter your email address to export the list. Click Yes to remove a keyword from the list of contenders and narrow down your results.


Q:  Where do the negative keyword contenders come from?

A:  The database of over a trillon keywords that fuels the Free Negative Keyword Tool is obtained through a number of search industry partnerships, which include:

We then apply sophisticated statistical models to this massive keyword data source, aggregating the different keyword data sets, applying various weightings and powerful semantic algorithms to compute the most popular negative keyword suggestions.


Q:  How is the list of negative keyword suggestions sorted?

A:  The list is sorted by a combination of search volume and relevancy (relative frequency). You should work your way from the top down because the negative modifiers at the top of the list will have the greatest impact on your PPC campaign. WordStream collapses all variations on a single modifier into one row, saving you time by compressing what could otherwise be a very exhaustive list of negative keywords to review. For example, all keyword variations that include the keyword "free" will be compressed into one suggestion, so you only have to accept or reject "free" keywords once.


Q:  What if I don't see the negative keyword suggestions I expected to see?

A:  The negative keyword results are affected by:


Q:  How do I set a negative for something other than the highlighted term?

A:  You can manually add a negative to your list by typing it into the "Manually add negative keywords" query box and clicking "Add."


Q:  How do I export my list of negative keywords?

A:  Just enter your email address to have the list of negative keywords emailed to you.


Q:  What is the match type column for?

A:  If you use advanced match types (the default is broad match, but you also have phrase match and exact match available to you) you can set them in this column. WordStream will include this information in your exported file.


Q:  What do the different negative keyword match types do?


Q:  How can I get more negative keyword suggestions?

A:  WordStream offers two premium subscription options that will give you unlimited access to the Negative Keyword Tool suggestions:

  • WordStream for PPC is a powerful, innovative PPC platform for creating and managing high-performance pay-per-click campaigns. It is designed for marketers spending at least $3,000 a month on PPC and offers unlimited negative keyword searches, and also automatically discovers negative keyword ideas for you through your AdWords search queries. Sign up for a free trial of WordStream for PPC to use this feature.
  • Keyword Research Suite is collection of powerful SEM tools designed to help search marketers that perform a high volume of keyword research on a regular basis. If you are a PPC marketer with a more modest budget this product can help you discover not only negative keyword ideas, but also campaign and ad group keyword ideas.


Q:  How can I download my AdWords search queries?

A:  PPC search query reports are invaluable when creating negative keyword lists. WordStream for PPC automatically downloads your search query data, and suggests negative keyword contenders based on high-volume keywords resulting in no conversions. Sign up for a free trial of WordStream for PPC to use this feature.


Q:  How can I download conversion data?

A:  WordStream for PPC offers negative keyword suggestions based on your website conversions. Converting keywords are by default excluded from the list of negative keyword contenders. Sign up for a free trial of WordStream for PPC to use this feature.


Q:  How do I add my negative keywords to AdWords?

A:  WordStream for PPC features a direct link with Google AdWords (through the Google AdWords API). This means you can automatically add your WordStream negative keywords to AdWords when you sync up to AdWords through WordStream.

You can also set campaign-level and ad-group-level negatives in your AdWords account. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Negative Keywords to expand the Negative Keywords control panel. Then click Add to paste in your list of negative keywords.


Q:  Is the Negative Keyword Tool really free?

A:  Yes, researching, refining, and exporting with the Free Negative Keyword Tool is free. You can use it 10 times up front, then once per day going forward. For unlimited use of the Negative Keyword Tool and our other keyword tools, try the Keyword Research Suite (PPC edition) or WordStream for PPC.


Q:  Why purchase our PPC platform?

A:  WordStream for PPC offers a full suite of negative keyword tools that will take you from brainstorming to implementation, to ongoing negative keyword discovery. You can view your negatives at the account level, campaign level and ad group level.


Q:  How do I get a free trial account for WordStream for PPC?

A:  Sign up for a free trial.