What Are Negative Keywords and Why Are They so Important for Lawyer’s PPC Campaigns?

An integral part of any successful law firm PPC campaign is incorporating the right keywords into your strategy. Equally as beneficial to your digital marketing efforts is a negative keyword list.

What Is a Negative Keyword?

Negative keywords prevent your ad from being shown by a certain phrase or word on the search result page. If someone searches for that phrase, your ads won’t be displayed. They help your law firm focus on more relevant keywords for your practice. This helps ensure that your digital marketing efforts are tailored toward searchers who are genuinely looking for your services.

These negative keywords can be utilized in various ways, and using negative keywords in PPC campaigns is especially helpful. Ultimately, negative keywords can help you prevent wasting money on clicks that won’t generate quality conversions for your business.

google ads negative keywords

How Do Negative Keywords Work?

You can begin to understand what related keywords you should exclude through detailed research for your practice area and an established campaign and goals.

When a negative keyword is used, it ensures that your ad doesn’t show up in the search results, saving your digital marketing budget for more relevant terms that you want to target.

What Are the Types of Negative Keywords?

Not all negative keywords are the same. There are three general types: broad match, phrase match, and exact match. What do they mean exactly, and how are they different?

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Broad Match Negative Keyword

Broad match keywords can be a valuable tool for local SEO for lawyers. They allow you to exclude specific terms from triggering your ads. For instance, if your law firm specializes in areas other than bankruptcy cases, you can add “bankruptcy” as a negative keyword. This ensures that your ads won’t appear for any searches containing the word “bankruptcy.”

On the other hand, if you want to target a broader audience while maintaining relevance, you can use broad match phrases. For instance, if you include “injury lawyer” as a broad match keyword, your ads will still display when people search for “injury” or “lawyer” separately. However, they won’t trigger for searches with those terms in a different order. This feature is a default option within Google’s PPC advertising platform and can be particularly useful for local SEO strategies tailored to lawyers.

Phrase Match Negative Keyword

If you want to exclude the exact phrase in the exact order, you need to use phrase match negative keywords. Same example, “injury lawyer.” With phrase match, only searches with this exact phrase in this exact order won’t show your ads.

Exact Match Negative Keyword

This is the most precise option. Exact match negative keywords are used if you want your ads not to be shown only if a person searches for this query. So, if your negative word is still “personal injury,” then your ads won’t appear only in “personal injury” search results. If the user somehow modifies the search to, let’s say, “personal injury lawyer” or “personal injury nearby,” then your ad will still appear.

Why Is It so Important for Law Firms to Have a Negative Keyword List?

Finding success through digital marketing can be a complicated task as it is, and choosing the right keywords to target is only half the battle. By evaluating your advertising campaigns and seeing what works, you can develop a sound strategy with a strong investment return.

If your law firm doesn’t have the right negative keyword list in place, it may result in using your budget on low-intent terms. The goal of any digital marketing campaign is to get your message in front of the right audience, and negative keyword lists can help you do so.

How to Create Negative Keywords List for Your Law Firm PPC Campaign

Conducting keyword research is the first step in establishing a negative keyword list. Keyword research helps target specific practice areas such as personal injury lawyers, criminal lawyers, etc.

To conduct keyword research, utilize Google Ads Keyword Planner tools to help you find biddable keywords. Seeing these keywords is also a good starting point to begin thinking of related negative keywords.

The right tools and the right digital marketing agency can make finding the right negative keywords a breeze.

For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer creating accident ads but don’t handle boating accidents, consider adding boating-related terms to your negative keyword list.

google keyword planner biddable keywords

Where Do You Implement Your Negative Keywords?

Campaign Level

Negative keywords at the campaign level mean these terms allow your ad to be triggered. This helps save your PPC budget for more meaningful engagement.

Ad Group Level

Negative keywords at the ad group level ensure that your budget isn’t spent on broad terms across your different ad groups.

For example, if your law firm only offers free consultations for certain practice areas, you’ll want to establish negative keywords for the word “free” in particular ad groups.

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Talk to legal marketing experts


Maximizing your digital marketing budget, especially for law firm SEO, is crucial for a strong return on investment. If you’re tired of allocating your PPC for attorneys budget towards low-intent keywords, consider enlisting the expertise of a professional marketing agency to enhance your strategy.

Our team at Comrade Digital Marketing can help you establish attainable goals and execute a strategy that allows your business to reach new heights. Request a free consultation to see how we can help you outperform your biggest law firm competitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are negative keywords in PPC?

A negative keyword in a pay-per-click campaign is a keyword that doesn't let your ad get triggered by a particular word or phrase. Your ad won't be shown to those who type that phrase into the Google search bar. Negative keywords are also known as negative matches.

What is the benefit of negative keywords for lawyers?

Make sure to use negative keywords when you don't want your law practice ads to show for a certain word or phrase. By employing negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing on irrelevant search queries, you can save your ad campaign budget on wasted clicks and get more relevant displays that could lead to more conversions.

How do I find negative keywords for my law firm ad campaign?

First, you need to log into your Google Ads account. Then click the Keywords tab, choose the keyword you'd like to run the search report for by selecting the checkbox next to that keyword, and click the Search Terms button. Look through the search terms and sort out the irrelevant ones by clicking "Add as a negative keyword."

What type of keywords should be added as negative keywords to a law firm search campaign?

If you are running a law firm search campaign, you can use the following types of keywords: exact match, phrase match, or broad match negative keywords. However, please take notice that these negative match types are a bit different from their positive counterparts. The key difference is that if you want to exclude certain search terms, you will need to add their singular and plural forms, synonyms, misspelled versions, and other close variations.

How many negative keyword lists can you have?

It is possible to create up to 20 negative keyword lists in your account, each with 5,000 negative keywords. Your negative keyword list can be applied immediately to multiple campaigns once you've created it.

Where can I find your digital marketing firm?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in San Francisco or Dallas. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Madison! If you want to know more about our Portland digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

About the Author
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
More Stan's articles
Stan Bogdashin

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