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Save Your Money in AdWords with Universal Negative Keyword Lists

One of the most important things for Pay Per Click (PPC) optimization is the use of negative keywords.


Negative keywords are words and phrases that are irrelevant for your business and ones that you do not want searchers to associate with your products and services.

When you add negative keywords to your PPC campaigns your ads will not be served if those words are part of the user’s search query. It’s important when adding them to make sure that your Ads are shown only for potentially interested customers who are looking to buy your product or services and not to someone who is looking for a job, or guideline, DIY, etc.

I would like to share with you some lists of negatives that could help you to increase your traffic quality once you start using them.

For your convenience, the lists are separated by the area of business in which they should be used. These lists are good to start with and you can then develop them for your campaign by checking the search query report.

As these are general lists, they would be suited to almost every business. I suggest that you review them and make sure that the ones you add do not contain the specific words that would be relevant for attracting customers in your specific area of business.

Once you review the list you can add it on the Shared library level and apply to All of your campaigns.

General Negatives. These are suited to almost any Campaign:

Job seekers. If you need to prevent your ads from being shown to people looking for information related to jobs, resumes, etc.:

Unless you’re a school or training company, you can add these words as negatives:

Unless you are connected with the travelling industry, you can add these words as negatives:

To avoid being shown for mix researchers, reference searches & statisticians:

Manufacturers & industrial:

No bargains here! These are good if you’re a premium provider:

To avoid clicks from developers who are looking for free resources, and consumers looking for tools, guidelines and home-use products:

Countries. If you need to target only one country (don’t forget to exclude your target country):

Join Today is using Google Display Network to promote their brand and increase number of conversions by 734%

The challenge:

Join Today is the Institution which is offering relevant content for people who are looking for financial news.

The company has created a great piece of content and was interested in getting more relevant visitors, who interested in financial news to grow their brand awareness.

At that moment they were getting traffic from and with very attractive CPA. 

Previously they have been testing GDN by themselves but faced such problems:

  1. It took 4-5 days to get enough amounts of relevant traffic;
  2. CPC and cost per call were higher compared with other traffic sources;

We didn’t have access to their previous campaigns and we have been very time limited – we had only 14 days to show results.


1.Create measurement model:

First of all, we had to come up with measurement model. We decided to use micro conversions to evaluate traffic quality, our main conversion was registered once visitor has viewed 75% of the video and was implemented using AdWords tracking code. This conversion was used for CPA bidding. 


Also, we have created several conversions using Google Analytics – we have used this tool to analyzed campaign performance.

2.Structure campaigns to get higher impression share from placements with highest conversion rates.

From the very beginning we have decided to use AdWords CPA bidding, so we had to organize campaigns following 2 main principles:

  1. Separate ad group for each targeting method (keyword, topic, placement etc.), so we would be able to place CPA bids on ad group level;
  2. Focus on 1-3 main campaigns, which would get 90% of conversion volume so AdWords will have more data;


3. Test different targeting settings:

We have been testing all suitable targeting methods limiting CPC:

  • DSK
  • Search + Display Select using Accelerated
  • Keyword targeting
  • Remarketing
  • Similar audiences
  • Topic and Interests

From the very beginning, we combined different targeting methods using Target and Bid settings (condition AND).

Also, we have created Custom affinity audiences:



4. Optimization 

  • We have constantly checked placement report and from Top performing placements were moved to separate campaign to get higher Impression Share:


  • We have realized that some big websites such have been giving low conversion rate, so we have been adding an additional topic or keyword targeting in needed ad groups. As a result, we have received less traffic but increased conversion rates;
  • There was a big volume of placements which generated low page depth traffic with 0% conversion rate, so we have created script which excluded them on a daily basis;
  • We have been using the method of rotation – “Optimize for conversions” and have been utilizing all possible type of ads to participate in more auctions;
  • We have been constantly working on CPA bids;

Results: During first two weeks we have lowered cost per conversion from $13 to $5 but amounts of traffic were limited so if we wanted to spend more we had to decrease Impression Share lost due to rank. It wasn’t the best strategy because this would lead to higher cost per conversion, so we have decided to test YouTube using both In-Stream and Discovery ads. Next day client called us and asked to increase YouTube budget by 500% because they started to get much more phone calls.

What’s next: We have discovered YouTube after spending 85% of project budget so right now we are preparing a set of questions and plan to massively invest in YouTube Brand Lift campaigns starting from the beginning of December, right now the client is working on new relevant content.