TL;DR: get a spreadsheet with state names and abbreviations for your shared negative keyword list here.
Are you looking for a ready-made list of geographical negative keywords to add to your Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) account? You’ve come to the right place! Adding shared negative keyword lists to your Google Ads account will help prevent you from wasting money on people who are searching for things that are irrelevant to your business, without having to wait for the queries to show up in the search query report (after you’ve already paid for them). Shared negative keyword lists are fantastic for blocking all sorts of clicks that you may not want to pay for (like job seekers and people looking for free stuff). In this case, we are looking to minimize clicks from people who are using search queries that contain the names or abbreviations of states which are not relevant to your business.
However, you do need to proceed with caution. While you do you need to remove irrelevant state names and abbreviations, you also need to be careful not to block searches which actually are relevant and valuable to your business. Let me explain.
Examples of Shared Negative Keyword Lists Blocking Valuable Clicks & Conversions
Here’s an example. You are a family lawyer in Portland. You want to advertise to the city of Portland and the surrounding areas. However, you want to avoid people who are searching for lawyers in the nearby state of Washington. So you add “Washington” to your shared negative keyword list, thereby blocking any search query that contains the word “Washington.” However, there is a suburb just to the west of Portland called Beaverton. In this town, there is the headquarters of a company called Nike. This town of Beaverton is located in Washington County. There is also a big Intel campus in Washington County. Some of these people may search for things like “best divorce lawyers in Washington County.” You get my point: you don’t want to inadvertently block any highly relevant searches by adding state names as negative keywords that also apply to local counties, cities, etc.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you are a female immigration attorney in Georgia. You add Louisiana and its abbreviation “LA” to your negative keyword list. However, “la” is a common Spanish word, and Spanish speaking people represent the lion’s share of your business. By adding “LA” as a negative keyword at the account level, you have blocked people who are searching for things like “la mejor abogada de inmigración en Georgia,” which loosely translates to “the best female immigration lawyer in Georgia.” Particularly astute readers may have noticed that that Spanish sentence also contains the word “de,” which is the abbreviation for Deleware. So, if you want to show up for Spanish searches, you want to avoid blocking “la” and “de.”
- “NE” blocks searches for “best dentists in NE Portland.”
- “CO” blocks “co-working spaces near me.”
The point is, be careful with which negative keywords you add to the shared negative keyword list because you do not want to block search queries from people who have a high likelihood of becoming a valuable customer. We created a Google Sheet which contains all of the state names and abbreviations. We have removed some state abbreviations that you should never add because they are common English words (I’m looking at you IN and OR!) However, there may be others that you need to remove. I have added some comments and notes in the spreadsheet pointing out potential conflicts I discovered while writing this article. I also enabled comments in the spreadsheet, so please, leave comments with any conflicts that you find as well. Maybe this can become a valuable crowd-sourced resource that you can return to each time you create or take over a new account! That would be pretty sweet. Access the spreadsheet here.
Negative Keyword Lists are Awesome
I love negative keyword lists because they help me save my client’s money by blocking searches that they don’t want to pay for. Most attorneys don’t want to pay for a search that contains the term “pro-bono.” Many businesses want to avoid searches for “cheap” and “free” because they are not a discount firm. Shared negative keywords lists are a great way to save time and money by applying negative keywords to multiple campaigns with just one list. Blocking state names and abbreviations for multiple campaigns from one list is a great way to save money from the get-go, but you have to be careful not to inadvertently block relevant queries. So build those lists, but take time to think it through first!
List of State Names & Abbreviations For Negative Keyword List
Hey, maybe you don’t want to open the spreadsheet? That’s okay. Here is a list you can just copy/paste.
*Note: keep the “quotation marks” for the two-word states. You only want to block searches which contain the phrase in that order. This is called “phrase match.”
*Note: “IN” and “OR” have been removed because they are common English words.