Regardless of if you’re new to AdWords or have run successful PPC campaigns for your healthcare practice, you likely know that keywords play a huge role in your strategy. Most folks spend a great deal of time determining which keywords will result in more clicks and higher conversions.

But how much thought have you given to building a negative keyword list?

If you’re like most healthcare professionals, you likely haven’t given it much thought at all, despite the crucial role negative keywords play in maximizing the ROI of your AdWords’ campaign.

Understanding the basics of negative keywords

First, let’s break down how AdWords works. It operates a lot like an auction. In order to get your ad in front of your targeted audiences, you bid on certain keywords. If your bid is right, and your ad is relevant, you stand a pretty good chance of having your ad show up in search results.

But what if you want to prevent your ad from showing up for audiences whom you know are likely not going to be interested in your service?

That’s where a negative keyword list comes in.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re creating an ad around your primary care service. While you may want your ad to appear for “primary care doctors near me” or “[Location] primary care doctors” you probably don’t want your ad to appear for searches such as: how to become a primary care doctor.

That’s why you should exclude them from your campaign as negative keywords.

Negative keywords tell Google which search queries aren’t relevant to your business, so you don’t end up paying for ad impressions that won’t lead to conversions.

Our primary care doctor phrase is just one example, but in reality, you’d build out a pretty substantial negative keyword list for all of your ad campaigns.

How to Find Negative Keywords

One of the most effective ways to find negative keywords is to take a look at the search habits of your patients and ideal patients.

You can do this through AdWords Keyword Planner, as well as a few other tools.

The AdWords Keyword Planner is actually designed to help you find keywords to bid on, not to exclude. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t finagle it to work as you want it to.

For example, when you search for a term like “primary care physician” you’ll see a list of related keyword searches, as well as some data on their search volume and competition. If you find any terms that aren’t relative to your healthcare practice, or not in line with whom you’re trying to target, then consider adding them to your negative keyword list.

But don’t just stop there. It pays to consider all of the potential search terms that may not have anything to do with your service offering.

For example, a healthcare practice in Illinois likely wouldn’t want to invest a ton of money into the clicks associated with Chicago Med, seeing as that’s the name of a TV show. More often than not, folks searching that term aren’t looking for a doctor or healthcare facility.

One tip we often employ and recommend for our clients is to perform a Google search on your primary keywords. Anything that shows up on the first couple of pages is information Google deems relevant to your search. If you see results that aren’t in line with your campaign, add those terms to your list.

How to Add Negative Keywords to Your AdWords Account

If you’ve taken heed of our recommendations by now, then you’ve likely compiled a healthy list of negative keywords. Now it’s time to add them to your account.

We could go into great detail about how to add these words to your account, but why not just send you straight to the source. Check out this guide offered up from Google.

Once these words are added to your list, you’re well on your way to saving a ton of money with your ad campaigns and increasing the number of qualified leads who click on your ads.

Our last recommendation is to not rest on your laurels. At least every quarter, go back and look at your negative keyword lists and – using the tips we outlined above – add any new terms that may be sending unqualified traffic your way.