Negative keywords are one of the essential parts of any paid search engine strategy that is sometimes overlooked. Since the advent of bidding and machine learning, negative words in Google Ads have become increasingly important.

What are negative keywords?

These words or phrases may prevent ads from being displayed to users who perform searches unrelated to the products or services offered by the advertiser. That is, it is a filter that prevents your ad from being displayed for a particular query.

They can be used for both search campaigns and display or video campaigns.

For search campaigns, we must use search terms similar to your keywords but can also be used by other users looking for a different product or service. For example, if you are advertising an optician, it would be best to add negative keywords so that your ads do not appear with search terms such as “scuba goggles” or “lab goggles”.

If you use Display or Video campaigns instead, they help prevent ads from showing on unrelated videos, themed placements, or websites.

Types of negative keywords

There are several match types for negative keywords:

Broad negative agreement

In this match type, ads won’t show if the search contains all the terms for the negative keyword, even if the order is different.

Broad Match Example: Running Shoes

Negative Phrase Agreement

For phrase match, your ads won’t show if the search contains the exact terms of the keyword in the same order.

Example Phrase Match: “running shoes”

Negative exact match

For exact match negative words, your ads won’t show if the search contains the actual terms of the keyword in the same order and no additional comments.

Example Phrase Match: [running shoes]

How to know if a keyword is negative?

Sometimes it is easy to define a term for which you do not want to appear. For example, if you sell physical travel guides, you may not be interested in appearing in terms such as free, pdf, and downloads. But it’s not always that easy to see the words, in which case, to assess whether a keyword should be negative to avoid wasted clicks, it’s essential to ask yourself the following questions:

Does it meet the search intent?

  1. Would someone looking for that click my ad?
  2. A person who comes to my website would make a conversion.
  3. Advantages of using negative keywords in SEM campaigns
  4. Optimization and investment savings: negative keywords help attract users interested in the product or service and thus avoid paying for unnecessary clicks.

Click-through rate (CTR) improvement: Showing your ads to more relevant impressions means fewer wasted clicks are generated, and therefore the percentage of users who click on the ad is higher.

Increase Conversion Rate – Adding negative keywords helps generate more quality leads by showing your ad on relevant queries or with a higher chance of converting.

How to add negative keywords in Google Ads

In the Google Ads platform itself, we can add negative keywords in several ways:

From the left side menu

In the “Keywords” tab, “Negative keywords” in the Google Ads user interface

Creating negative keyword lists

We can also create lists of negative keywords from the Google Ads platform to apply to the campaigns that interest us. For example, you can include lists for searches:

  • Generic
  • Employment
  • Cities
  • Brand

Creating them is done from the top of the interface, in the tools and settings icon at the top of the Google Ads user interface and selecting “Negative keyword lists” in the “Shared library” column.

When adding negative keywords, it is essential to know that there is a difference between search campaigns and positive ones. The main difference is that we’ll have to add synonyms, singular/plural versions, misspellings, and other close variations if you want to exclude them since it doesn’t support close variants or other expansions. 

For example, if the negative broad match keyword’ cars’ is excluded, your ads won’t be eligible to run when a user searches for ‘new cars’ but will be eligible to run if a user searches for ‘new car’.

Instead, a set of negative keywords for display campaigns will be excluded as an exact topic. Ads won’t show on a page even if the same keywords or phrases aren’t explicitly on the page, but the content matter is closely related to the excluded set of negative keywords.

And you, do you often do optimization work on your negative keywords?

Also Read: How to Read QR codes With your Mobile


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