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Negative Keywords: How to Use Them and Why They’re Important



Chances are that if you’re reading this blog post right now, you’re at least familiar with the fundamentals of PPC. If not, check out this awesome blog post to get a basic understanding of Pay Per Click advertising.

In case you need a quick recap on how keywords play a role in PPC, I will cover that first. With Pay Per Click, the idea is to bid on keywords that are related to the products you are advertising. For example, if you are selling running shoes, you would bid on the keywords “running shoes” so that when someone searched those terms, your ad would show. I’m sure by now you’re thinking “if keywords are the way to get your ads to show, why on h*cken earth would I want to have negatives?”. Glad you asked.

You can only get so granular with your keywords, and it is inevitable that your ads will show for searches that aren’t related to what you are advertising. The problem with this is that it costs money to show your ads, so what do you do to prevent your ads from showing for these searches? This is where negatives come into play. Negative keywords are the keywords you add into your account that you don’t want your ads to show for. There are a few different ways to find negatives, and there are also a few different ways to exclude them, so let’s cover both.

Finding Negatives

When you are looking for negatives to exclude in your account, sometimes the terms you don’t want to show for will be obvious, but sometimes you will have to do a little research. One place to start is the Keyword Planner in Google. While usually the keyword planner is used to get search volume forecasts of keywords you might want to add to your account, you can also find searches that you don’t want to show for. For example, if you were bidding on the term “dentures” for a company in the dentistry industry, you would put that into the keyword planner and see the different terms that are being searched related to dentures.

Google Ads keyword planner results and graph

Another way to find potential negatives is to do an SQR, or a Search Query Report. With this, you can see the actual things people are searching, and this will give you an insight into terms that you don’t want to show for.

Different Ways to Exclude

After you have found the terms that you want to exclude from your account, you have to decide how you want to exclude them. The first choice you have is which match type you want to exclude as. If you want to exclude just one term completely, you can exclude it as an exact match. If you want to exclude a term only in certain context, then you can exclude it as phrase match. If you want to exclude a certain term in any context with any combination of words, then you would choose broad match. Although you can create broad match negatives, it is best practice to keep your negatives tight and succinct. You wouldn’t want to create an exclusion that tanks traffic because of the broad connections associated with it.


The next choice you have is to either exclude the keyword at ad group level, campaign level, or by using a negative keyword list. Just like they sound, excluding at the ad group and campaign level is just that, excluding those terms from only certain ad groups and campaigns. With a negative keyword list, you are excluding these terms from the whole account, so they will never trigger your ad to show.

Extra Tips

Now that you know how to find negatives, and also how to exclude them, let’s go through some best practices for using them.

  1. If you are running both brand and non-brand campaigns, you will want to have your branded terms as negatives in your non-brand campaign. This will make sure that your campaigns aren’t competing against each other and will force your branded terms to go to your branded campaign. This makes it easier to identify performance for both brand and non-brand.
  2. If you split your campaigns or ad groups up by match type, you will want to have your exact terms as negatives in your phrase or broad campaigns. For the same reasons as above, this will eliminate the chance of your terms competing with each other

Negatives can save you time and money, so make sure to implement them in your accounts!


Content Marketers Share Salaries, Career Paths, and More in 2023 [New Research]



Content Marketers Share Salaries, Career Paths, and More in 2023 [New Research]

What’s it like to work in content marketing? Is it a rewarding career? Does it pay well? What’s the career trajectory?

You certainly know your answers to these questions. But, until now, little industry research has dived into content marketing careers.

We set out to find answers. Our goal is to help content marketers understand their opportunities and positions – and help companies develop meaningful roles and the resources and opportunities to retain them.

So, earlier this year, we asked content marketers about their work satisfaction, career development, and salary expectations.

More than 1,100 content professionals had their say. You can read the full story – including salary breakdowns by role, gender, and generation – in the Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook (gated).

New @CMIContent survey of #content pros gives a 2023 outlook on careers and salaries, says @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Let’s take a sneak peek at some of the intriguing findings.


You (mostly) like your content marketing jobs

More than half of the content pros (56%) tell us they’re very or extremely satisfied with their current position.

One content marketer explains: “I can be creative while being tied to business impact. Content marketing offers the fulfillment and growth of a creative career with the stability and compensation of a corporate career. It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s possible.”

Another offers this explanation: “I love seeing all the pieces come together; how great words and innovative designs can affect and influence consumers and audiences. And I love working behind the scenes, getting to turn the cogs of the content machine.”

Satisfaction rates stay roughly the same from millennials to Gen Xers to baby boomers. (We had too few Gen Z respondents to report on their segment with confidence.)

Of course, that’s not to say the job is easy. When asked about stress levels, 24% of content marketers say they are “very” or “extremely” stressed.

24% of #content marketers say they are very or extremely stressed, according to @CMIContent #research via @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

One survey taker explains, “The pace of work can be relentless. Just when you’ve completed one big project, another is right behind it.”

And some kudos go to employers. A significant majority (74%) said they feel their employers care about their stress levels and mental health.



You’re well educated – and eager to learn more

Among the surveyed group, one in three has a master’s, doctorate, or another advanced degree. As you probably know from your and your colleagues’ career pathways, people come into content marketing from many backgrounds (some come from multiple fields), including:

And content marketers are eager to expand their knowledge base:

  • Over 45% want to advance their skills in SEO, data analytics, audience development/segmentation, and integrating new technologies.
  • 40% show interest in honing their writing and editing skills.
  • One in three wants to hone their audio and video skills (filming, editing, and production).

Content Marketers Interested in Learning These Skills

Content marketers clearly rank high on the “digital dexterity” scale – the ability to learn new skills and adapt to new environments. That’s a sign of an adaptable, resilient workforce ready to meet whatever the future brings.

As Jean-Marc Laouchez, president of the Korn Ferry Institute, says in a Computerworld article: “Constant learning – driven by both workers and organizations – will be central to the future of work, extending far beyond the traditional definition of learning and development.”

And yet, many content marketers are looking for new positions

Content marketers like their jobs and are ready to learn. And yet, most (57%) say they plan to find another position within the next year or are unsure about their next steps.

Looking at it from another angle: Only 43% say they won’t be looking for a new job in the next year.

Only 43% of #content marketers say they won’t be looking for a new job in 2023, according to @CMIContent #research via @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet


Will Content Marketing Turnover Remain High in 2023?

What’s driving this restlessness? Is it a persistent echo of the Great Resignation? Or a wave of “quiet quitting” in content marketing?

I don’t think so. Instead, the research points to something at the heart of content marketing careers.

Content marketing lacks a clear career path

The data highlights a troubling phenomenon: Only 23% of content marketers say they have a clear path for advancement inside their current company.

Nearly all the rest (69%) say they must leave their companies to advance or simply can’t visualize the path forward. (A small share – 8% – say they’ve reached the pinnacle of their careers and aren’t looking for advancement.)

Many Content Marketers See No Clear Career Path

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Robert Rose, our chief strategy advisor, has written about this problem: “Content marketing is growing exponentially. But the advancement ladder for content practitioners is missing most of its rungs.”

Companies that don’t address the content marketing career ladder will struggle to keep these highly educated, adaptable employees.

Where to?

Content marketers want better-defined career paths and are eager to advance their skills. So, where to begin nurturing their ambitions? With dialogue.

If you’re an individual contributor on a content team, speak up about your needs and wants.


If you’re a team leader, involve your creative, results-driven professionals in open, honest conversations. Invite them to help shape their career paths based on their aspirations. Then partner with HR and executive leadership to provide what they need to achieve their goals.

After all, investing in their future also pays off for the brand.

Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook offers more insights into:

  • Content marketers’ income
  • Unique career priorities by age and gender
  • Advice on how companies can recruit and retain the best content marketing talent

I hope you’ll download the e-book to learn more. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. How do these findings align with your experience? What would you tell the next generation about content marketing as a career? Let me know in the comments.

Get the latest Content Marketing Institute research reports while they’re hot – subscribe to the newsletter. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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