The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend: Negative Keywords & Competitors 

In the vast battleground of online marketing, keywords are your arsenal. The choice of keywords can either be your best ally or your fiercest adversary. But what if we told you that there are two secret weapons to enhance your SEO strategy‚—negative keywords and the keywords of your competitors?  

Here’s how to wield these tools to optimize your SEO plan, outsmart your rivals and climb to the top of the search engine rankings. 

Negative Keywords: Unleash the Power of Exclusion 

Negative keywords are the secret agents in your SEO campaign, strategically filtering out the uninterested, the unrelated and the unprofitable. They are your shield against wasted ad spend and, most importantly, your key to attracting the right audience. 

Trimming the Fat 

Negative keywords are like a scalpel in your PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaigns. In the example of “luxury watches,” if you exclude terms like “cheap” and “used,” your ad will only be displayed to users specifically looking for high-end luxury watches. This targeted approach prevents your budget from being wasted on irrelevant clicks and ensures that your ad is seen by those most likely to convert. 

Pro tip: Regularly review your search terms report to identify new negative keyword opportunities based on actual user searches. 

Increased Relevance 

The relevance of your ad is a crucial factor in SEO, particularly in Google Ads. Negative keywords help increase relevance by ensuring your ads are shown to the right audience. A higher ad relevance translates to a better Quality Score in Google Ads. A good Quality Score can reduce costs and enhance ad placement, giving you a competitive advantage. 

Pro tip: Create ad groups with closely related keywords and assign specific negative keywords to each group for fine-tuned control. 

Refining Audience Targeting 

Understanding the nuances of your products or services and your audience’s preferences is crucial. By excluding irrelevant keywords, you can precisely target your desired audience. For instance, if you specialize in high-end luxury vacations, you wouldn’t want to spend ad budget on users searching for “budget” or “economy” options. Negative keywords allow you to focus your resources on the audience with a genuine interest in what you offer. 

Pro tip: Monitor your competitors’ ad campaigns and identify keywords they are bidding on to exclude those from your campaigns if they don’t align with your offerings. 

Competitors’ Keywords: Know Your Adversaries 

When it comes to SEO, your competitors hold valuable insights. Their keywords are the bread and butter of your industry. By understanding and, to an extent, borrowing from their keyword strategies, you can outmaneuver them. 

Spy on Competitors 

Knowing your competitors’ keywords is akin to having a map of their battle plans. Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz provide in-depth competitive analysis. By examining their keywords, you can understand what is driving traffic to their website. These insights can be gold when creating your SEO strategy. 

Pro tip: Create a list of your top competitors and run regular keyword research to keep tabs on their strategies. 

Keyword Gap Analysis 

Performing a keyword gap analysis reveals the keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you are not. This exercise can be a game-changer. It identifies untapped opportunities, allowing you to target keywords that your competitors may have overlooked or underestimated. 

Pro tip: Use tools like Keyword Gap in SEMrush to identify keyword opportunities. 

Refine Your Strategy 

Armed with knowledge about your competitors’ keywords, you can refine your SEO strategy. Are there high-performing keywords they are leveraging successfully? Are there long-tail keywords specific to your niche that you can target? This intelligence allows you to craft your content and campaigns with precision. 

Pro tip: Prioritize your keywords based on your research, identifying the most achievable and high-impact terms. 

The Symbiotic Relationship 

When it comes to negative keywords and competitors’ keywords, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. They complement each other in a strategic symbiotic relationship. Here’s how: 

Eliminate Irrelevant Traffic 

Negative keywords and competitors’ keywords work together to ensure that you’re not competing for or attracting irrelevant traffic. While competitors’ keywords guide you toward relevant terms, negative keywords serve as a filter, preventing your ads from showing to users whose intentions don’t align with your offerings. 

Focus on the Right Battles 

Knowing your competitors’ keywords can be a strategic asset. It’s like understanding your rival’s playbook. With this knowledge, you can decide where to direct your efforts. If a competitor ranks strongly for a specific keyword, you can either aim to outperform them or focus on other keywords where you have a competitive edge. 

Optimize Content 

Your enemies’ keywords can be your inspiration. When you discover the keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can create content specifically optimized for those terms. This might involve creating landing pages or blog posts that target these keywords while offering superior value and information. 

Pro tip: Go beyond just targeting the keyword; craft high-quality, informative, and engaging content to provide value to your audience. 


Mastering negative keywords and understanding your competitors’ strategies is the key to optimizing your SEO approach. By using these tactics effectively, you can reach your target audience, eliminate irrelevant traffic and stay one step ahead of your competitors. 

Ready to boost your SEO strategy with negative keywords and competitors’ insights? Our team at Rooted Web has the expertise to help you achieve your SEO goals and outperform the competition. Contact us today to supercharge your SEO strategy and rise to the top of the search results. Your success is just a click away! 

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Samantha Prost

Samantha Prost is a digital content writer with almost 10 years of experience who uses her upbeat and creative energy to write fresh, fun and custom content for our clients.

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