Google Adwords – Adding "Negative" Keywords

Negative keywords are basically keywords you don’t want showing up for searches that bring up your ad. 

So if you were bidding on the broad match term of New York Lawyers, your sites ad could come up for many different variations of that term.   If your law firm doesn’t handle personal injury cases, then it might make sense to make sure your ad didn’t show when someone did the search of New York Accident Lawyers.

So if you add the negative keyword (-new york accident lawyer) to that campaign, then that keyword will never trigger your ad and you won’t be paying for that potential click from someone who was looking for something your law firm doesn’t handle.

What are negative keywords?

I. Definition

Negative keywords are a core component of a successful keyword list. Adding a
negative keyword to your ad group or campaign means that your ads won’t show for
search queries containing that term. By filtering out unwanted impressions,
negative keywords can help you reach the most appropriate prospects, reduce your
cost-per-click (CPC), and increase your ROI.

II. Example

The negative keyword –free trial would prevent your ads from showing
on any search queries containing the terms free and trial. It
wouldn’t prevent your ads from showing on variations of these terms, however. It
also wouldn’t prevent your ads from showing on search queries that only contain
one of the terms.

For instance, the search queries one-day trial and free
could trigger your ads, while free one-day trial could not.

III. How to use them

The process to add negative
to your ad group is just like adding any other keyword. The only
difference is that you put a negative sign (–) before the term. You can also add
negative keywords at the campaign level.

The bottom line is that when most people add keywords to their Google adwords campaign, they add a broad match keyword and that means many different variations of the keyword can trigger your ad, this can mean more traffic but it also can mean a lower click through rate and maybe people clicking on your ad that aren’t really interested in your service.

You could always add an Exact match, which means the term of [New York Lawyers] would only trigger your ad if that exact term was typed in.  Yet that would then limit the amount of times your ad was shown.

So adding negative keywords is a way to get more traffic but limit certain terms that you know for sure don’t make sense to your business.

Google Adwords has a couple of great ideas to generate the lists of potential negative keywords, below is one way to find them and add them to your campaign.


To use the Keyword Tool to generate potential negative keywords:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at
  2. Click the campaign and the ad group that you’d like to edit.
  3. Select the Keywords tab.
  4. Click Keyword tool.
  5. Enter a generic term related to your product or business (generally a
    one-word term) in the available field.
  6. Click Get Keyword Ideas.
  7. Check the Keyword column for any search queries that are
    irrelevant to your product or business and that you wouldn’t want triggering
    your ads.
  8. Click the downward-pointing arrow in the Match Type column
    for each keyword that you want to add as a negative match. Select
    Negative, and the term will be added to your list as negative
  9. Click Save to Ad Group when you’re done.

This makes a lot of sense and is a way to fine tune your campaigns so you don’t overspend on your online advertising.

We have helped many lawyers succeed with their Internet PPC campaigns at Google adwords, Yahoo search marketing and other PPC programs.  If we can be of service to your law firm with legal PPCo or attorney organic SEO campaigns, please contact us for a free estimate.