How to Create Negative Keyword Lists in Google Ads
Updated: May 11
One of the most basic yet impactful optimizations you can do on Google Ads is keyword optimization. In particular, it is important to keep building and maintaining your negative keyword lists to ensure your Google Ads campaigns are always targeting relevant keywords and maximizing the results of your ads. Follow along as we show you a simplified, step-by-step guide on how to create negative keyword lists in Google Ads, along with some tips to find the keywords you need to include on your negative keyword list!
Before we begin, in case you need some video guidance, here's a 5-minute tutorial from XYZ Lab's Youtube Channel!
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Part 1: How to Create Negative Keyword Lists in Google Ads
Step 1: Access your Google Ads account and navigate to Tools & Settings
Step 2: Click on Negative keyword lists under SHARED LIBRARY
Step 3: Create a new Negative keyword list
1. Click on the "+" symbol
2. Name the Negative keyword list
3. Input all the keywords you'd like to exclude with the relevant match types (i.e. Broad, Phrase, Exact). The match types for negative keywords work the same way as a search keyword.
For example, using the keyword tennis, if you input the keyword [tennis] as an exact match negative keyword, then your ad will not show up specifically for the one keyword tennis. Meanwhile, if you put the keyword "tennis" as a phrase that match the negative keyword, then your ad will not show up at all for keywords that contain the word tennis.
4. Click "Save"
Step 4: Apply the Negative keyword list to one or more of your campaigns
1. Select the Negative keyword list and click on "Apply to campaigns"
2. Apply to your selected campaigns. You can select more than 1 campaign
Part 2: How to Find Negative Keywords to Include in Your Negative Keyword Lists
Step 1: Navigate to Keywords > Search Terms
A list of queries that trigger your ads will appear.
Step 2: Filter the keywords that have less than 1 conversion (non-converting keywords), and sort them based on impressions or clicks from highest to lowest
Step 3: Scan the list to find and exclude keywords that you don't want to include in the campaign
1. Select the keyword and click "Add as negative keyword"
2. Add a negative keyword to the Ad group / Campaign / Negative keyword list
3. Click on "Negative keyword list" and select your relevant existing Negative keyword list. The selected keyword will be automatically excluded from all campaigns where the Negative keyword list has been applied.
4. Click "Save"
That's it! You have now created a Negative keyword list that can be applied to multiple campaigns in your account at once. Now, before you go on creating your list, here are a couple of tips for identifying negative keywords:
Filter only keywords that have 0 conversions (non-converting keywords)
Filter keywords that have 0 clicks
Filter keywords that have a lot of impressions and have very low clicks / CTR
Filter keywords that have high clicks but 0 conversions
Ultimately, ask yourself this question: "Is this keyword still valuable to my business even if it's not converting?" If the answer is no, then do exclude them from your targeted keywords and add them to your negative keyword list.