If you’ve ever run a paid search campaign, you’re likely aware that the early stages of running your account require plenty of testing and fine-tuning. Much of that fine-tuning involves building out negative keyword lists. Creating these lists ensures that money is only being spent on keywords relevant to your target audience. This guide will walk you through an introduction to negative keyword lists and why they’re important in today’s paid search environment.
What are negative keyword lists?
A negative keyword list is a list of negative keywords that can be applied to campaigns in order to easily update or control negative keywords in bulk.
How to set up negative keyword lists in Google Ads
Negative keyword lists are created in Google by going to “Tools & Settings,” then under “Shared Library” selecting “Negative Keyword Lists.” From there it’s as simple as clicking the blue “+” and giving your list a name.
How to set up negative keyword lists in Microsoft Advertising/Bing Ads
In Microsoft Advertising/Bing Ads, negative keyword lists are created by going to “Shared Library” on the bottom of the left pane, then by clicking on “Campaign Negative Keywords.” Creating a new list is as easy as clicking on “Create Negative Keyword List” (the green button) near the top of the page and giving your list a name.
How are negative keyword lists used in paid search?
The most common way to use a negative keyword list is to create an account-wide irrelevant keyword list, so you can negate poor keywords. For example, if you specialize in selling shoes, search queries that contain “custom built furniture” is likely a bad fit. After creating your negative keyword list (name it something easy, such as “Universal Negatives”) apply it to campaigns that you want to negate those terms from. Once the list has been applied, reviewing search query reports for negative keywords will be much more productive because new negatives can simply be added to the negative keyword list, which will apply the negatives to all campaigns associated with that list. This is much easier to manage than applying negative keywords at the campaign or ad group level, since this is a “bulk” operation.
Negative keyword lists: creative tips
Here are some helpful keyword lists to consider:
- Create a brand keyword negative list to apply to non-brand campaigns, which will make sure non-brand traffic does not accidentally pick up your branded terms.
- Create a competitor keyword list and apply it to your non-brand or brand campaigns, so you can prevent non-brand/brand traffic from accidentally picking up competitor terms.
- If you break up your campaigns or ad groups by match type, try creating a negative keyword list containing all exact match keywords in your account to broad/phrase match campaigns (or ad groups). This will make sure that broad, phrase and exact-match traffic does not accidentally get picked up by the wrong match type.
Do you have experience creating negative keyword lists? What are your tips? Share your best practices below.