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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.

2 thoughts on “50 States—or 49 Negative Keywords for PPC

    • Hi Ben,
      The fact that the numbering would make it hard to copy and paste did occur to me. To solve that problem I created a Github repo with text files (mostly CSVs), specifically you’ll want to look in the `/geo-csv/` directory.
      There’s some other stuff you might find handy in there too and I’ll probably update it with a list of states that border other states in the near future (I just found it during research myself).

      Anyway, here’s the link to the repo, I hope you find it useful.

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