Google Ads Negative Keyword List For Therapists

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Understanding and implementing negative keywords in your Google Ads campaigns is important for therapists looking to attract more clients effectively. Negative keywords help sharpen your ad targeting, making sure that only those searching for relevant therapy services see your ads. This approach maximizes your budget by removing wasteful spending on irrelevant clicks and improves the likelihood of converting individuals genuinely interested in your services.

In this article, you’ll learn why negative keywords are indispensable in your digital marketing toolkit, how they function to streamline your ad visibility, and steps to identify and apply these keywords effectively. We’ll also look into how to use Google Ads Search Terms Reports—a powerful tool that reveals the search terms triggering your ads, helping you continuously refine your negative keyword strategy.

Let’s begin to fine-tune your ad campaigns, cut through the noise, and directly connect with your target audience, making sure every dollar you spend is working hard to grow your practice. Whether new to Google Ads or looking to optimize an existing campaign, this guide will give you the knowledge and tools to implement negative keywords, increasing your practice’s visibility and client base.

What Are Negative Keywords in Google Ads?

Negative keywords are filters in your Google Ads campaigns that prevent your ads from appearing in response to certain search terms. These keywords help you exclude unwanted traffic, making sure that your ads only show to users who are likely to be interested in your services.

Why Are Negative Keywords Important for Google Ads?

Negative keywords are important as they help you optimize your advertising budget by reducing wasteful spending on irrelevant clicks. They make sure your ads reach the right audience, increasing the likelihood of attracting clients looking for your services. By sharpening your targeting, negative keywords improve your campaigns’ efficiency and effectiveness.

How Do Negative Keywords Work?

Negative keywords instruct Google Ads not to show your advertisement to users who include specific terms in their search queries. For example, if you add “free” as a negative keyword to your campaign, Google will not show your ad to someone searching for “free therapy sessions.” This allows you to focus your advertising on searches more likely to convert into bookings or consultations, making your ad spend more productive.

How Can Therapists Identify Negative Keywords?

Therapists can identify negative keywords by analyzing patterns in user searches that trigger their ads but do not convert them into desired actions, such as bookings or inquiries. This process involves understanding how unrelated or inappropriate search terms can waste ad spending and dilute the effectiveness of the campaigns.

Using Google Ads Search Terms Reports to Find Negative Keywords

The Google Ads Search Terms Report is an invaluable tool for therapists looking to refine their advertising strategies. This report shows exactly what search terms triggered your ads, providing clear insights into whether those terms are relevant to your services. 

By checking this report, therapists can spot and list terms that frequently appear but fail to lead to meaningful engagement or conversions.

Here’s how to utilize the Search Terms Report effectively:

  1. Access the Report: In your Google Ads dashboard, navigate to the ‘Keywords’ tab and click ‘Search terms.’ This will display the list of all search terms that have triggered your ads.
  2. Analyze the Terms: Look for search terms that are irrelevant or vaguely related to your therapy services. These might include terms associated with different types of therapy you don’t offer, competitor names, or completely unrelated services.
  3. Add Negative Keywords: You can add irrelevant or unproductive terms as negative keywords directly from the Search Terms Report. This will prevent your ads from appearing for these searches in the future, helping to focus your campaign on only the most pertinent queries.

Common Negative Keywords for Therapy Practices

To optimize your Google Ads campaign for therapists and avoid irrelevant traffic that could increase costs without yielding a returns, you must implement a complete list of negative keywords. 

Below, I’ve expanded on the categories and examples you provided, detailing more specific negative keywords that therapists should consider to improve the effectiveness of their advertising efforts. Be sure not to include any of these negative keywords from the list that you may need.


CategoryNegative Keywords
Generic Servicesfree, cheap, lowest price, costless, gratis, no cost, budget, economical, affordable, low cost, giveaway
Language Specificvietnamese, indian, spanish, cantonese, mandarin, arabic, persian, french, russian, korean, japanese, tagalog, portuguese
Employment Relatedjob, career, hiring, salary, volunteer, internship, resume, positions, employment, job opening, recruit, recruitment
Irrelevant Servicesmassage, chiropractor, physiotherapy, acupuncture, pedicure, manicure, spa, wellness, fitness, gym
Substancesalcohol, drugs, prescription, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, meth, opioid, pills, medication
Educationalcourses, training, degree, certification, diploma, workshop, class, tutorial, lecture, seminar, schooling, education
Healthcare Misalignmenthospital, clinic, surgery, medical, dental, doctor, nurse, physician, surgeon, physical, test, examination, health insurance
Religious Serviceschristian, muslim, jewish, catholic, islam, judaism, buddhist, hindu, mosque, synagogue, church, temple
Miscellaneoushome visit, reviews, scam, lawsuit, legal, cheap, discount, trial, test, example, sample, quote, estimate
Competitors’ Names[Insert specific local competitor names], e.g., ABC Therapy, Best Care Psychological, New Dawn Counseling, Main Street Therapy
Technology Issueserror, problem, broken, issue, malfunction, bug, glitch
Discounts and Dealscoupon, discount code, promo, promotion, offer, deal, special offer
Events and Occasionsevent, gala, conference, meet, meeting, assembly, gathering, festival
Seasonal Unrelatedchristmas, easter, thanksgiving, halloween, summer, winter, spring, fall, holiday
Media and Publicationsbook, article, news, magazine, publication, journal, documentary


  • Generic Services: This category now includes a wider range of keywords related to free or low-cost services, which are unlikely to yield profitable engagements.
  • Language Specific: Expanded to include more languages to prevent ads from showing to users searching for services in languages not offered by the therapist.
  • Employment Related: Broader terms associated with job searches to prevent ad spend on users looking for employment rather than therapy services.
  • Irrelevant Services: Encompasses a wider array of non-therapeutic services that might confuse the ad’s target intent.
  • Substances: Extended to include more specific drug names and types, relevant only if the therapist does not deal with substance abuse.
  • Educational: Covers a broader spectrum of educational terms that might attract students rather than clients.
  • Healthcare Misalignment: Includes terms related to general healthcare services that are not related to psychotherapy or mental health counseling.
  • Religious Services: Broadened to include more denominations and places of worship which are irrelevant unless specifically related to the services offered.
  • Miscellaneous: Now includes terms that might indicate users are looking for reviews, legal advice, or free samples.
  • Competitors’ Names: Should include specific local or well-known therapists and practices to avoid costly irrelevant clicks.
  • Technology Issues, Discounts and Deals, Events and Occasions, Seasonal Unrelated, and Media and Publications: New categories added to cover a wide range of unrelated or occasionally searched terms during specific times or for non-service related information.

Using Keyword Research Tools for Identifying Negative Keywords

Keyword research tools are amazing for therapists attempting to refine their Google Ads campaigns by identifying positive and negative keywords. These tools help therapists discover relevant and irrelevant terms to their services, making sure their ads reach the right audience.

How Keyword Research Tools Help Identify Negative Keywords

  1. Discover Broad and Specific Terms: Keyword tools allow you to see many related keywords, including broad terms and more specific phrases. For therapists, it’s important to identify terms that are too broad or irrelevant, which could attract the wrong audience, such as those looking for physical therapy when you offer psychotherapy.
  2. Understand Search Contexts: Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner provide insights into the context of how certain keywords are used in search queries. This can show unexpected meanings or associations with a keyword that might make it suitable as a negative keyword.
  3. Assess Keyword Metrics: These tools offer valuable metrics such as search volume, competition level, and predicted cost-per-click (CPC). High-volume terms that are irrelevant to your specific therapy services can be added as negative keywords to prevent unnecessary ad spend.

Steps to Use Keyword Research Tools for Negative Keywords

  • Step 1: Set Up and Access a Tool: Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz Keyword Explorer are good starting points. Most require an account or subscription.
  • Step 2: Enter Your Core Keywords: Start with keywords that describe your core services (e.g., “counseling”, “mental health therapy”, “anxiety treatment”). The tool will generate a list of related keywords.
  • Step 3: Analyze the Suggestions: Look for keywords unrelated or inappropriate for your services. For instance, if “massage therapy” appears as a related search for “therapy”, and you do not provide this service, it should be marked as a negative keyword.
  • Step 4: Implement Negative Keywords: Add these irrelevant keywords to your Google Ads campaigns to ensure your ads do not appear for these searches. This will improve your campaign’s focus and effectiveness.

How to Add Negative Keywords to Your Therapy Ad Campaign

Adding negative keywords in Google Ads is a straightforward process. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Log into Google Ads: Start by signing into your Google Ads account.
  2. Select the Campaign or Ad Group: Navigate to the specific campaign or ad group where you want to add negative keywords.
  3. Go to Keywords: In the left-hand menu, click on ‘Keywords’.
  4. Choose Negative Keywords: You will see an option for ‘Negative Keywords.’ Click on this to manage your negative keywords.
  5. Add Negative Keywords:
    • Click the blue plus button to add new negative keywords.
    • You can choose to add them at the campaign level or ad group level depending on your needs. Campaign-level negatives will apply to all ads within the campaign, while ad group-level negatives will only apply to a specific ad group.
    • Enter the keywords that you want to exclude. You can add them one by one or in bulk.
  6. Save: After adding the negative keywords, ensure you save your changes.

This helps you prevent your ads from showing on searches irrelevant to the services you offer, which can improve your campaign’s ROI and reduce wasted ad spend.

Understanding Match Types for Negative Keywords

When adding negative keywords, it’s important to understand the match types and how they affect your campaign:

  • Broad Match for Negative Keywords: This is the default setting. If a search contains all your negative keyword terms (in any order), your ads won’t show. This match type covers many searches but can be overly restrictive if not used carefully.
  • Phrase Match for Negative Keywords: This ensures your ads don’t show if the search includes the exact negative keyword phrase in the same order. It offers more control than broad match, preventing your ad from appearing for searches that contain the exact phrase you specified.
  • Exact Match for Negative Keywords: This is the most restrictive option. Your ads won’t show if the search query is exactly the same as your negative keyword, without any extra words. This match type provides the highest level of control, but it may limit the reach of your campaign if not used judiciously.

Best Practices for Managing Negative Keywords in Therapy Campaigns

Managing negative keywords is a must for maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of your Google Ads campaigns. For therapists, where targeting the right audience is necessary to successful client acquisition, sticking to best practices in negative keyword management can dramatically improve campaign performance.

How Often Should You Update Your Negative Keywords List?

Regular updates to your negative keywords list are important. We recommend at least a weekly check on keyword clicks, however, the frequency of updates can depend on a few factors:

  • Campaign Data Analysis: Review your Search Terms Report to identify irrelevant terms triggering your ads. A good rule of thumb is to check these reports at least once a month or after any major campaign changes.
  • Changes in Services or Market: If you start a new services or market trends change, update your negative keywords to reflect these changes. This helps avoid attracting irrelevant traffic based on outdated information.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: For seasonal variations in therapy demand (e.g., increased inquiries about depression during winter), adjust your negative keywords to prevent irrelevant queries during off-peak seasons.

Consistent updates make sure your campaigns remain relevant and cost-effective, focusing your budget on searches most likely to convert into client bookings.


Tips for Balancing Broad and Specific Negative Keywords

Balancing broad and specific negative keywords effectively optimizes your Google Ads campaigns. Start with broad negative keywords to filter out irrelevant traffic. Common examples include general terms such as “free,” “jobs,” or “courses,” which typically do not align with paid therapy services. This initial step helps prevent your ads from appearing in unrelated searches.

As you collect data from your campaign’s performance, you should refine your approach by adding specific negative keywords. These keywords are made to exclude searches closely related but irrelevant to your services, like “child therapist” or “pediatric psychologist” if you focus on adult therapy.

Using shared negative keyword lists can further enhance your management efficiency. These lists allow consistent application across multiple campaigns or ad groups, keeping a uniform strategy.

Regular reviews and adjustments of your negative keywords are also important. This process makes sure they effectively block unwanted traffic without restricting relevant searches. By updating the approach based on actual campaign data, therapists can target potential clients more precisely and improve their advertising efforts’ cost-efficiency.

Common Mistakes Therapists Make With Negative Keywords and How to Avoid Them

When managing Google Ads campaigns, therapists can sometimes make errors in their use of negative keywords that may hinder the effectiveness of their advertising efforts. Recognizing and avoiding these common pitfalls can significantly enhance campaign performance. Here are several typical mistakes and strategies for avoiding them:

Over-Using Broad Match Negative Keywords

Mistake: Applying too many broad match negative keywords can excessively restrict your ad’s visibility, blocking it from relevant searches and potentially missing out on valuable clients.

Solution: Use broad match negative keywords cautiously. Focus on truly irrelevant terms that are unlikely to overlap with any relevant queries. Balance this by regularly reviewing the Search Terms Report to ensure you aren’t excluding beneficial traffic.

Neglecting Negative Keyword Updates

Mistake: Failing to update negative keywords regularly can lead to spending on irrelevant clicks as new search trends emerge or as the focus of your practice shifts.

Solution: Schedule regular reviews of your campaign’s performance data and the Search Terms Report. Update your negative keywords to reflect new insights and eliminate poor-performing or irrelevant terms.

Not Using Negative Keyword Lists

Mistake: Managing negative keywords individually across multiple campaigns can be inefficient and increases the risk of inconsistency, leading to errors and oversight.

Solution: Utilize shared negative keyword lists. These lists allow you to apply updates across multiple campaigns or ad groups simultaneously, ensuring consistency and saving time.

Misunderstanding Match Types

Mistake: Incorrectly using match types for negative keywords can lead to unwanted ad placements. For example, using a broad match when a phrase or exact match is needed can block more queries than intended.

Solution: Understand the distinctions between different match types—broad, phrase, and exact—and choose appropriately based on the specific terms and the level of control needed. Consider using exact match to filter out unwanted traffic precisely for highly specific unwanted terms.

Ignoring Regional Variations

Mistake: Overlooking regional language variations and colloquial terms can result in irrelevant traffic. For example, different terms and phrases may be used to describe therapy services in various parts of the country or world.

Solution: Include regional variations in your negative keywords. Research and add colloquial terms or regional slang that may lead to irrelevant ad impressions and clicks, especially if you are targeting a geographically diverse audience.

Maximizing ROI With Negative Keywords in Google Ads For Therapists

Using negative keywords in your Google Ads campaigns is more than just a tactical measure—it’s a strategic necessity that can significantly improve the return on investment (ROI) for therapists looking to attract new clients. By selecting and regularly updating negative keywords, you make sure that your ads reach only those genuinely interested in the therapy services you offer. This targeted approach not only conserves your advertising budget and increases the likelihood of converting viewers into clients.

Remember the common pitfalls associated with negative keywords to maximize your campaign’s ROI. Avoid overusing broad match negatives, neglecting regular updates, and misunderstanding match types. Instead, use a balanced approach to refine your campaigns. Use shared negative keyword lists to maintain consistency across all advertising initiatives and adapt your strategy based on performance analytics and emerging search trends.

Remember, the goal is to streamline your advertising efforts so that every dollar spent pushes you closer to your targeted audience. Reviewing your negative keyword strategy will keep your campaigns efficient and effective, saving you money and increasing client inquiries.

Ready to enhance your Google Ads strategy and make sure your advertising budget is working as hard as you are? Start refining your negative keywords today! If you’re looking for professional guidance to optimize your campaigns or need specific advice for your practice, contact us or visit our Google ads for therapists page assistance. Let’s count every click and improve your therapy practice to new heights!


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