How to Find Negative Keywords Using Autocomplete and “Searches Related To”

How to Find Negative Keywords Using Autocomplete and “Searches Related To”

I’ll start by saying this: I’m not a PPC guru by any stretch. I have my Google AdWords Certification, but I do not manage pay per click campaigns on a daily basis; but when an old friend of mine approached me for some online marketing consulting (pro bono of course), I set out on a mission to help him save his hard earned money and not waste a dime on paid search.


My buddy paints houses, he gets a lot of referrals makes a healthy, steady income. There’s only one problem: he’s moving to Australia to be with the woman he loves. Suddenly all those business connections he’s built up over the years cease to exist. Sure, he could go the SEO route (and I recommended that he should), but that’s not gonna put money in his pocket the week he arrives down under. As any good SEO company will tell their clients: getting ranked organically doesn’t happen overnight. So besides a (hopefully) speedy Google Places/+Local set up, paid search marketing seems like the best solution for immediate gains.

First, we need to think of a bunch of keywords, thankfully there’s the Google Keyword Tool for that (UPDATE: Google has changed this to the Google Keyword Planner). It even helps a bit for finding negative keywords. But I had to say to myself: “there must be a better way!” What I’m going to share with is labour intensive, but trust me, it’s well worth. Sidenote, if you have an intern, this is perfect work for them. It’s also something you might want to throw up on or Mechanical Turk; or if you’re really savvy you could develop a Macro.

Now for the good stuff: choosing negative keywords using autocomplete and the related searches feature

1) Finding Negative Keywords using "searches related to"

Let’s start with a pretty basic keyword: "painter Sydney"

Right off the bat I’m hit with a 3 paid search ads followed by 3 organic results, then a slew of Google Places listings; but scroll down the page with me my friend, right to the bottom.

Do you see what I see?

Searches related to painter Sydney

Here we have two great negative keywords: “face painter Sydney” and “painter jobs Sydney.” Face, jobs, boom! Add those to the list right away.

Now just repeat the same method for each of your keywords and add them to your negative keyword list.

This is a really great technique, but surely there’s more that can be done. I’ll remind you that my friend has never done any type of internet marketing before, so the very idea of paying each time someone clicks an ad scared him to death.

2) Choosing Negative Keywords Using Autocomplete

Now, here comes the labour intensive part, the perfect work for an intern, or better yet bot! In 2004, Google released autocomplete (then called Google Suggest), a feature that arguably revolutionized search. Suddenly Google narrowed the number of longtail keywords people used, but I digress.

Autcomplete has evolved over time, and now it is actually one of the most valuable tools for finding negative keywords. The method I and others have discovered is simple: type in your keyword e.g. “painter Sydney” Then follow it by each letter of the alphabet. So let’s try the letter “A,” no luck finding negative keywords, but suddenly the letter “B” provides a great negative keyword that I would never have thought of in years: “body painter.” So it’s off to the letter Zed (as we Canadians say) and onto the next keyword.

And that my friends, is how I saved my good friend money on paid search marketing. Good luck Adam, we’ll miss you!

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