Healthcare Marketers: Stop Wasting Money & Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are a fundamental requirement when running paid advertising for any accounts. Negative keywords are extremely important for blocking user search queries that are most likely irrelevant to the services your healthcare organization is providing. They also help control which ads show up for particular search queries. Negative keywords are most important when your campaigns use a lot of broad match keywords, since Google decides which of the users search queries are relevant to the keywords you are bidding on and therefore determines when your ads will show.

Fathom Healthcare works with several different health systems and hospitals nationwide. When we audit and inherit PPC campaigns, we typically see a lot of search queries that are matched with keywords that should not be.

In the example below, the health system was bidding on “dermatology doctor” in broad match but actually being matched with “derma roller”.

Negative Keywords for Health Systems

To see the actual queries being triggered by particular keywords, simply select the check box next to the keyword (or keywords) and select “details” and then “search terms.”

AdWords Search Terms

We have created a master negative keyword list that healthcare advertisers should consider adding to prevent irrelevant clicks and wasted marketing budget. I have categorized these negative keyword lists in a way that allows you to easily determine if they should be added to your campaigns. Some of these keywords are more obvious to add than others, so it’s important to really look through and make sure they are not conflicting with who you want to target in your paid advertising campaigns. Below is a short sample of negative keywords we typically use for many of our healthcare clients:

Animals Treatment:

  • Animal
  • Animals
  • Pet
  • Pets
  • Dog
  • Dogs
  • Cat
  • Cats
  • Puppy
  • Puppies
  • Kitten
  • Kittens
  • Horse
  • Horses
  • Veterinary
  • Vet
  • Veterinarian


  • Pic
  • Pics
  • Picture
  • Pictures
  • Photo
  • Photos
  • Image
  • Images
  • Photograph
  • Photographs
  • Video
  • Videos
  • Movie
  • Movies
  • Animation
  • Animations
  • Clips
  • Clip
  • YouTube
  • Gif
  • Gifs
  • Jpeg
  • Jpegs
  • “Clip Art”


  • hire
  • hiring
  • employment
  • employer
  • employers
  • job
  • jobs
  • career
  • careers
  • occupation
  • occupations
  • full time
  • “part time”
  • work
  • resume
  • resumes
  • salary
  • salaries
  • pay
  • intern
  • resume
  • resumes
  • intern
  • interns
  • internship
  • internships
  • position
  • positions
  • opening
  • openings
  • become
  • staffing

Education Seekers:

  • training
  • learn
  • class
  • classes
  • school
  • schools
  • college
  • colleges
  • university
  • tutorial
  • tutorials
  • course
  • courses
  • textbook
  • textbooks
  • book
  • books
  • library
  • conference
  • conferences
  • seminar
  • seminars
  • workshop
  • workshops

Existing Patient/Caregiver:

  • “my”
  • “login”
  • “portal”
  • Payment
  • Billing
  • “Customer service

Research-Mode: please note, many of our healthcare clients want to show up for these types of queries. However; if budget is limited, we may choose to add these as negatives if we’re focused on generating conversions:

  • “What is”
  • Define
  • Definition
  • Wikipedia
  • Wiki
  • “Meaning Of”
  • Information
  • Info
  • Blog
  • Blogs
  • Forum
  • Forums
  • Study
  • Studies
  • Journal
  • Journals
  • News
  • About
  • Example
  • Examples
  • Stats
  • Statistics
  • Sample
  • Samples
  • Research
  • Symptom
  • Symptoms
  •  “Survival Rate”
  • “causes”
  • “Life Expectancy”
  • “side effect”
  • “side effects”
  • Complication
  • Complications
  • Problem
  • Problems
  • Risk
  • Risks


  • Free
  • Cheap
  • Cheapest
  • Discount
  • Discounted
  • Inexpensive
  • Insurance
  • Cost
  • Price
  • Finance
  • Financing
  • Loan
  • Loans
  • Grant
  • Grants

 If you’d like to add several of these negative keywords to multiple campaigns, you can do this through negative keyword lists located in your shared library in Google AdWords rather adding them to each campaign one by one. Simply create a negative keyword list, then choose the campaigns to apply the negatives to.

Negative Keyword Lists

Another consideration is using negative keywords to control which ads are served for different keywords and search queries. Many times, advertisers have a well-structured campaign and ad groups but are bidding on broad match keywords, so Google will sometimes show the wrong ad.

For example, this advertiser was bidding on “prostate cancer” keywords in broad match but the actual search queries were around “lung cancer” and “colon cancer”. If the advertiser wants to continue to bid on “prostate cancer” in broad match, they would need to add either ad group or campaign level negatives of other types of cancer to ensure their ads are not triggered for the wrong search queries.

Ad Poaching w/ Negative Keywords

We hope this tip helps your health system save marketing dollars and improve ROI from your search engine marketing campaigns! If you would like Fathom to take a look at your current AdWords campaigns to see if we can improve them, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free assessment!

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