How to find Negative Keywords (using Bob’s Keywords)

Bob's Keywords - Brain Image

“After a few days using Bob's Keywords, I could see the tool's potential. I could easily read my Search Query data and understand user behaviour when they are ready and when they are not ready yet to commit to booking a tour. I want to show my paid Ads only to those ready, and I can achieve that using the right Negative Keywords revealed by Bob's Keywords. And for those who are not ready yet, I still want to bring them to my website improving my SEO strategy, and Bob's Keywords gave me a lot of SEO insights as well.” - Marcelo Merçon (Chilenjoy, Una Design Studio)

There are several tips and tutorials on the Internet showing how you can find Negative Keywords, like:

  • Keyword suggestions tools like Ubersuggest or Keyword Tool
  • Using Google Search
  • Using Google Keyword Planner
  • Analyzing your Search Query reports in Google Analytics
  • Analyzing your Search Query reports Using Pivot Tables in Excel
  • Installing scripts on your Google Ads account

While you can find Negative Keywords using these methods, they are somehow limited and time-consuming.

According to Google Ads/PPC specialists, the best option to find Negative Keywords is to analyze your Search Query Report. Why? Because your report contains all the search terms potential customers are typing on Google and search engines, these are the search terms triggering your Ads. The actual Negative Keywords that are impacting your campaigns negatively are there.

You probably know that analyzing such a report (your Search query Report) is challenging if you don’t have the right tool. With that in mind, we created Bob’s Keywords: a tool that can process a large amount of Search Query data and still be easy and practical to help you find new Negative Keywords.

The only expertise Bob’s Keywords requires from you is your knowledge about your or your Client’s business, so you can make the right call when choosing your new Negative Keywords.

The first tests

When Bob’s Keywords development was reaching a stage where we needed to start testing it with data from real scenarios and start working on the marketing of the product, I crossed paths with an old friend, Marcelo Merçon. He is the Head of Creative at Una Design Studio, who helped us create our visual identity ( and owns a Tourism Agency for Brazilians who want to visit Chile ( They focus on short trips (4 to 6 hours) around Santiago City tourist attractions.

By coincidence, he was running a Pay Per Click campaign for Chilenjoy on Google Ads, and we wanted to use Bob’s Keywords on his data to help him find new Negative Keywords and improve his PPC Campaign. We then downloaded his data (PPC Search Query Report, Organic Searches, Keywords, and the Negative Keywords he was currently using) and analyzed it using Bob’s Keywords.

When we started the analysis to find new Negative Keywords, Bob’s Keywords first applied the default Negative Keyword Rule, considering all search terms with no conversion as candidates for a Negative Keyword.

It is essential to say here that the way Bob’s Keywords presents your data is very different from simply looking at a plain Google Ads report. Bob’s Keywords digests your Search Query data into n-grams and does some “magic” calculations before presenting the data to you.


Negative Keywords Candidates with Zero Conversion

Marcelo first noticed the term ”passagem” (which translates to tickets). Although he used to analyse his data using Google Analytics to find new Negative Keywords, he never noticed this term before, as it was buried among hundreds of Search Queries.

Then we had a look at all Search Queries related to that term, using the Match Type Impact feature, showing 58 searches in total.

Negative Keywords Match Type Impact

As his business is related to Tourism in Chile and he was bidding on the keyword “chile”, we can expect that Google Ads would show his PPC Ads to someone searching for “tickets to chile” (or other searches in a similar context).

Looking at the 58 search queries and with the information that the keyword “passagem” was not converging, it was apparent that we had our first Negative Keyword of the day. Another essential piece of information is that Marcelo’s business does not sell tickets, thus why the zero conversion.

Back to the Match Type Impact feature, note that Bob’s shows you what search queries will be blocked if you use that particular term for each Negative Keyword Match Types. This feature makes it easier to decide the best match type for your new Negative Keyword, and also, you can quickly see search phrases and understand contexts triggering your paid Ads. The most effective match type for our new Negative Keyword “passagem” is Broad Match, as the Search Term is only one word.

To set the Match Type for a new Negative Keyword, hover the mouse over one of the options, B for Broad Match, P for Phrase Match and E for Exact Match.

Set Negative Keyword Match Type

Bob’s Keywords shows you how much you should be saving for each new Negative Keyword you select when you start using your new Negative Keywords.

Negative Keywords Savings Prediction

Bob’s Keywords also highlights all your newly selected Negative Keywords and includes the match type you chose for easy identification.

Negative Keywords Match Type

Let´s go to Chile?

Now that we have selected our term “passagem” as a Negative Keyword, we want to go a little deeper into our analysis to see if we can find more related search terms. We just need to click on the 3rd icon close to our search term (the chain icon) to activate this feature.

Find Negative Keywords - Search Terms Commands

Bob’s Keywords now show us 269 search terms that co-occur with our keyword “passagem” (or ticket). Remember that the current Negative Keyword Rule considers as Negative Keyword Candidates only the terms that do not converge. The following image shows the “Conversion Rate” column highlighted.


Find Negative Keywords - Co-Occurring terms Analysis

The first noticeable thing is the term “2021”, which appears 73 times in our Search Query report, and this term was present in 63 clicks with no conversion, wasting $17.64 of his budget.

Using the Match Type Impact feature, Marcelo realises that, for his business, searches that include the Year won’t converge. He concludes that people searching for “a trip to chile” plus the Year are not ready yet to do any business and that he wants to block his Ads from showing to any search that includes the Year. Thus, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 can also be added as Negative Keywords.

Negative Keywords Match Type Impact

The Bulk Operation

Let’s get back to the 269 search terms that co-occur with our term “passagem” (or ticket). As we added the term “passagem” as a Broad Match Negative Keyword, we now expect our Ad to be blocked from all those search queries.

As our term “passagem” never converts, it is likely other co-occurring terms will never converge.

Negative Keywords Bulk Operation

Bob’s Keywords includes an option to apply a setting to all visible terms at once. Having a quick look at the filtered terms, we choose “Negative Phrase Match”. Now that we have 269 new Negative Keywords, we can quickly go through the list again and check if we want to change the match type for any new ones or even revert the operation for individual search terms.

Terms Selected as Negative Keywords - Bulk Operation

In SEO we trust

Bob’s Keywords primary focus is on Negative Keywords discovery, but you can use it with SEO in mind as well. While you’re adding a search term as a Negative Keyword, you can still collect some of the search terms to use them on your SEO strategy, adding them as a Trusted Keyword. When you find a search term that fits your business, but you know it won’t convert well, add it to your Trusted Keywords List for later use.

The moment of truth

After selecting your New Negative Keywords, it is time to export them and start using your new list on your Ads platform. Bob’s exports your new Negative Keywords to a text file, and each Negative Keyword includes the Match Type formatting, ready to use.

Negative Keywords List exported to a text file

Final Thoughts

Although Bob’s Keywords is a very niche tool within the Digital Market, we believe it can become an essential part of your successful online strategy. Negative Keywords are a vital part of any PPC Campaign, and Bob’s Keywords is the tool that helps you find them in a very easy and efficient way, saving you time and money.

Thanks a lot for reading this long text, and we hope to see you here at Bob’s Keywords regularly.