I operate a site that ranks for a keyword that isn't actually anywhere on the site. I'd like to NEVER show up for any searches including this keyword, but otherwise remain in the index for other searches. The term that I'd like to ban usually shows up in multi-keyword searches with other words we rank for.

Here's a pretend example:

Let's say I run a bakery that only makes waffles. I want to rank for chocolate dessert waffles and I do, and that works great, but I am also ranking for chocolate dessert cakes and I do not, ever, want to rank for the word cakes.

In this example the word cakes isn't even on my website, but I rank really well for chocolate dessert so my site shows up in SERPs for chocolate dessert cakes.

Which is bad.

Anyone aware of a way to do this?

  • Welcome to Webmasters! Is there a way? No. Except to be explicit in your content and do not use language that is ambiguous.
    – closetnoc
    Sep 24, 2019 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


No, it's not possible to add 'negative' keywords which would stop you ranking for a particular keyword term. If the word appears nowhere on the site Google obviously think it's relevant.

This may be due to links pointing to your site which use that keyword as the anchor text. You can check this with tools like Majestic SEO. It's a fairly common practice for hackers to add pages to your site and build lots of low-quality links to them, so if the keyword is completely unrelated this would be worth checking.

This could also be due to you being well optimised for a synonym for the keyword you're ranking for as Google will often rank a relevant site for synonyms. In this case, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Eventually, Google will see that users bouncing back to the search page for that keyword and start to rank you lower for that term. But this wouldn't affect other keywords so I don't see why this would be a concern.

Is there a particular reason you want to do this? Irrelevant traffic isn't great but I can't see how it would harm your website.

  • Thanks for your help Chris. I haven't been able to find anything either, but I do realize that it's a really weird edge case. Without getting too far into the details, client's website is ranking for keywords that aren't just irrelevant but are traffic that they would specifically not want. Sep 25, 2019 at 12:48
  • Google's official stance is that bounce rate is not a ranking factor. May 7, 2023 at 16:19

If you're ranking for terms that you feel are not relevant to the page, I'd review your GSC data on the page and see exactly how much crawlers are referencing "Cake" with my page. If I'm getting multiple instances of keywords containing "cake" there are two scenarios:

  1. There is relevant content and user behavior from the terms containing "cake". What could be the case is that there's a strong correlation between what you want to rank for and the terms coming in. For example: "developmental psychology" is synonymous (to google) with "child psychology" through you may not mention "child" anywhere on the page.

  2. Your page intent is drifting and you may need to update the content/meta on page to ensure that you're targeting the intent you want in a clear enough manner that a term containing "cake" would be too ambiguous for crawlers to make the correlation with the actual content on page. This is often the case when the SERPs landscape and search intent (or what google is serving for the intent) shifts.

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