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Negative Keywords for Addiction Treatment

Negative Keywords for Addiction Treatment PPC Campaigns

Let’s face it: Online addiction treatment marketing is a dog-eat-dog world. Competition for relevant clicks is extremely high—and depending on the search term—costly. In this kind of environment, cutting down on irrelevant search traffic that will never convert is paramount. Yet many addiction treatment providers still aren’t taking simple, fundamental steps to prevent waste in their Google ads campaigns. One of the most common issues we find in addiction treatment PPC campaigns is improper use of negative keywords, or even worse, not using them at all. In this article, we will:

  • Break down negative keywords
  • Demonstrate how to add negative keywords to your campaign and prevent waste
  • Show you how to find irrelevant keywords already wasting your campaign budget and add them as negatives

Negative keywords for Addiction Treatment Marketing: Definition

Do a quick google search for ‘food addiction treatment’ or ‘sex addiction treatment’, and you’ll usually find a drug treatment center at the top of the paid search results. Traffic from irrelevant searches like these wastes money and is easy to prevent using negative keywords. In a nutshell, negative keywords are single words or phrases that tell Google not to serve your ads for searches that include them in the search query.

For example, if you want to prevent your ads from being served for searches related to eating disorders, you can add the following as negatives to your campaign:

  • food addiction
  • eating disorder
  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • overeater
  • overeating


Adding the above words and phrases as negatives will stop your ads from being served for any of those search terms.

Seem simple? It is! Yet many treatment centers aren’t doing using negative keywords, or using them poorly. In the past several weeks, we’ve come across dozens of ads for treatment centers using the above search terms. Not only will traffic from those terms never convert, it is often a harbinger of bigger, more fundamental problems in your campaign design. If you’re wasting money on irrelevant searches here, where else could your campaign be leaking?

One thing to keep in mind with negative keywords is that they don’t behave the same way as the positive keywords in your campaign. For one thing, they do not match to close variants, so your ads may still be served for search terms that are close, but not identical to, your negative keywords.

Also, while you can use broad match, phrase match and exact match negatives, the negative match types behave differently:

  • In negative broad match, your ads won’t show for searches that contain all of keyword terms in any order.
  • In negative phrase match, your ads won’t show searches that contain all of the keyword terms in the exact order.
  • In negative exact match, your ads won’t show for searches that contain the exact keyword terms without any extra words.


Because negative keywords behave differently, it’s important to create a thorough list of negatives using different match types to eliminate wasteful searches. Here’s a quick list of terms to start with:


Negative Keywords for Addiction Treatment (broad match)

  • Food
  • Eat
  • Eating disorder
  • Bulimia
  • Anorexia
  • Overeating
  • Over eating
  • Over eat
  • Over eater
  • Overeat
  • Overeater
  • Sex
  • Sexual
  • Gambling
  • Gambler
  • Lemon Detox
  • Marketing
  • PPC
  • Careers
  • Jobs
  • Anonymous
  • Injury rehab
  • Injury rehabilitation
  • Injury treatment
  • Physical rehab
  • Physical rehabs
  • Physical
  • Brain
  • Detox water
  • Detox shampoo


This list is just a starter. If you’d like a more thorough list of negative keywords for addiction treatment, click here.


Adding Negative Keyword Lists to your Addiction Treatment PPC Campaign

Once you’ve created a thorough list of negatives, you can add it to your campaign. Start by choosing the campaign you want to add negative keywords to in your Google Ads account. Then select keywords from the left-hand bar. Under Keywords, click on the Negative Keywords tab. Click the blue plus button to start adding your negative keywords. Here you can paste your list of negatives, and then choose where to apply them, either at the ad group level or the campaign level. The option you choose will vary depending on how your campaign is structured. To add a new negative keywords list to your entire campaign, choose campaign add to -> campaign. To add a new negative keywords list to a specific ad group, choose add to->ad group, and then click ‘Select an ad group’ and choose the ad group from the available list.

Once you’ve chosen where to add your negatives, and you’ve pasted them into the negative keywords box, finish the process by selecting save to new or existing. Name your negatives list and click save to apply.


How to Find Negative Keywords Already Impacting Your Addiction Treatment PPC Campaign 

Brainstorming possible negative keywords is only part of the equation when it comes to using negatives to reduce waste. If your campaign has been up and running for a while, you can find irrelevant search terms already costing you money right in the data. To do this, you need to access the Search Terms report in your Google Ads account. This can be found by clicking Keywords on the left-hand side of your Google Ads Account. Under Keywords, click on the Search Terms heading to see what search terms your ads are being served for.

As you scroll the list, you may find terms that are not relevant to your campaign. Click the checkbox next to each term you want to add to your negatives list, and once you’ve selected everything you wish to add as a negative, click Add as Negative from the blue bar at the top of the window. Where you choose to add these negatives will vary depending on how you’ve structured your campaigns. Click here to send us a message with specific questions.

Benefits of Using Negative Keywords for Addiction Treatment

Using negative keywords is an integral part of any well-structured Google Ads campaign. When applied correctly, negative keywords help eliminate wasteful spend for irrelevant search terms that will never convert to an admission. In the addiction treatment space, this is ever more important, as competition for clicks continues to increase. Eliminating waste ensures that you get more relevant traffic for your ad spend, which will translate into a higher conversion rate, and more admissions. And in the end, that’s really all that matters when it comes to an ad campaign.

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