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50 States—or 49 Negative Keywords for PPC

Negative keywords often save a lot of money in PPC.

Local businesses generally don’t want traffic for queries containing other states.

I live in Columbus, Ohio and run a couple dozen AdWords campaigns for local businesses.

Negative Keywords: States With Cities Named Columbus

Most often I would see Columbus GA or Columbus Georgia in AdWords queries; initially, I would exclude them when I came across them.

There’s a:

  • Columbus, Georgia
  • Columbus, Indiana
  • Columbus, Mississippi
  • Columbus, Nebraska
  • Columbus, Texas
  • Columbus, Wisconsin
  • Columbus, Montana

It took me a while to figure out that I should just add all those states as negative keywords.

The 49 Other States To Use As Negative Keywords for PPC

google ads interface showing where to create negative keyword lists

Once I started thinking about that, I realized I could add every state other than Ohio to the negative keyword list.

Here’s the list (remove your state from the list before adding it to your ‘Shared Library’ as a negative keyword list):

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. Florida
  10. Georgia
  11. Hawaii
  12. Idaho
  13. Illinois
  14. Indiana
  15. Iowa
  16. Kansas
  17. Kentucky
  18. Louisiana
  19. Maine
  20. Maryland
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Michigan
  23. Minnesota
  24. Mississippi
  25. Missouri
  26. Montana
  27. Nebraska
  28. Nevada
  29. “New Hampshire”
  30. “New Jersey”
  31. “New Mexico”
  32. “New York”
  33. “North Carolina”
  34. “North Dakota”
  35. Ohio
  36. Oklahoma
  37. Oregon
  38. Pennsylvania
  39. “Rhode Island”
  40. “South Carolina”
  41. “South Dakota”
  42. Tennessee
  43. Texas
  44. Utah
  45. Vermont
  46. Virginia
  47. Washington
  48. “West Virginia”
  49. Wisconsin
  50. Wyoming

Punctuation, which in this case dictate match type matters. You may have to strip the double quotes and manually set the match type of the negative keywords if using the AdWords Editor.

State abbreviations as Negative Keywords

Be Careful!

I learned this the hard way: The 2 letter state abbreviations match a whole lot of stuff you probably don’t want to prevent your ads from showing on.

The best example of this (which is obvious when pointed out specifically) is the abbreviation for Indiana which is IN.

IN added to your negative keywords list prevents ads from showing on searches like my service IN my city.

There are several other state abbreviations that can trip you up as well like Lousianna which is abbreviated LA and Montana which is abbreviated MT. Having those will prevent your ads from showing on queries containing la (e.g. hotels near la guardia airport) or mt (e.g. restaurants in mt vernon ohio).

I’m sure there’s other states with abbreviations that could cause problems, so I recommend avoiding adding them wholesale.

That said, here’s the list of US state abbreviations:

  1. AK
  2. AL
  3. AR
  4. AZ
  5. CA
  6. CO
  7. CT
  8. DE
  9. FL
  10. GA
  11. HI
  12. IA
  13. ID
  14. IL
  15. IN
  16. KS
  17. KY
  18. LA
  19. MA
  20. MD
  21. ME
  22. MI
  23. MN
  24. MO
  25. MS
  26. MT
  27. NC
  28. ND
  29. NE
  30. NH
  31. NJ
  32. NM
  33. NV
  34. NY
  35. OH
  36. OK
  37. OR
  38. PA
  39. RI
  40. SC
  41. SD
  42. TN
  43. TX
  44. UT
  45. VA
  46. VT
  47. WA
  48. WI
  49. WV
  50. WY

Let me say again: Don’t use the abbreviations without careful review.

Additionally, it’s wise to keep in mind that ‘Washington D.C.’ and therefore ‘DC’ is an additional municipality that should be account for.

By making smart—even better—proactive negative keyword lists and adding them to your shared library you save yourself a lot of wasted clicks and needless expense.

Google Analytics Custom Reports, Advanced Segments via Avinash Kaushik

I’m a huge fan of Avinash Kaushik’s digital marketing blog. He mostly writes about analytics and he explains very clearly how it is relevant to real world business.

One of the things I find most useful is that he often shares assets such as custom reports and advanced segments.

As a matter of fact, I find it so useful that I found myself repeatedly going back to the blog and hunting through his articles for those assets (and that is time consuming).

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t (I have only ever had one report in the comments feed work—no idea why) and I assume it is due to incompatible versions of the assets among different versions of Google Analytics.

This is my cheatsheet to analytics configuration assets that I have found there.

Custom Reports:

All 14 Custom Reports
While signed into GA click on this link:

Advanced Segments:

All 8 Advanced Segments
Just click right here:


WordPress Dashboard
Available here:

I want to give credit where credit is due but also tell anyone who finds this where they can find more details. I spent a few hours today trying to find every post that contained the links to these assets but I was unable. However, I did find most so here’s the detailed, individual list.

Custom Reports:
AK: Visitor Acquisition Efficiency Analysis
AK Content Efficiency Analysis Report v2
AK: Paid Search “Micro-Ecosystem” Report
AK: Content Efficiency Analysis Report
AK: Search Traffic (Excluding Not Set, Not Provided)
AK: PPC Keyword/Matched Query Report
AK: E2E Paid Search Report
AK:Content Efficiency & KW Drilldown Ecommerce Rpt
AK: Google httpS change Impact
AK: Key Word Performance Analysis
AK: All Search Performance
AK: All Traffic Sources e2e
AK: Complete Mobile Performance Report
AK: Landing Pages Analysis

Advanced Segments (by blog post):
AK: All Social Media Visits
My Social Media Visits
AK: Non-Flirts, Potential Lovers
AK: Visits w/ 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, 20+ Words in Search Query–QubsbZg
1-2 Word Searchers Traffic
3 or more words in a search query
Source post unknown:
AK: Visits via Search Queries w/ more than 4 words
AK: Visits via search queries w/ 4 words.

WordPress Blog Dashboard

What is PPC advertising?

PPC is an acronym for Pay Per Click

ppc is often used as a generic term for online advertising. Some other terms that might be used more or less synonymously are “banner ads” or search engine marketing (SEM).

One of the best known PPC advertising services is Google AdWords so that’s another term that might be used generically even though it is actually a trademarked name.


To muddy the water a bit more, ppc is often used to include ‘display’ advertising which maybe billed as cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM) which is usually on a CPM basis—with ‘M’ being an abbreviation for (1) thousand. Thus, you are bidding and paying per thousand times your ad is displayed.

Google AdWords and Bing/Yahoo! Ads

Google AdWords and Bing Ads (formerly known as Microsoft AdCenter and including Yahoo!), are the industry leaders on the consumer or retail level for ppc advertising. And as actual search engines they actually provide true search engine marketing.

What’s so great about ppc?

What makes these services so powerful is that you can run an ad only to someone searching for the things you specify: A florist can advertise only to people searching for flowers.

Beyond that you can very carefully control the geographic area your ad will show, the times it will show, how much you are willing to pay per click, and per week/month.

What about display advertising on websites?

Display ads (cpc and cpm) are most cost effective when used for branding, awareness or reminders. Whether you have a business or product you’d like to raise the visibility of or you want to show an ad to people who have visited your site before, display ads are an easy way to do so.

What’s the catch?

The services that allow people to run these ads seem much simpler than they really are—at least to get maximum benefit—as it is normally quite competitive.

For instance, in 2006 when I first used AdWords, I was working for a marina and we were able to advertise to the Columbus metro area on less competitive keywords (‘Pontoon’ instead of ‘ski boat’) with bids of 33¢ a click and $1.00 a day. Now, I’d be amazed if ads would even show with a bid that low.

The other thing is it doesn’t always work.

That said, it usually works, and most people who try it find it so effective that they shift a large percentage of their advertising and marketing budget to it.

Google AdWords and Bing Ads both offer introductory coupons, discounts and specials regularly

To induce new customers to try their services there are frequent—nearly always—offers from Google and Bing. One of the most common from Google is an AdWords coupon that lets new advertisers get $100 in advertising for $25. If you’d like to know more, or try it out for yourself please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.