What Are Negative Keywords and How to Use in Google Ads?

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When it comes to running successful ad campaigns, finding the right keywords is crucial. However, equally important is identifying keywords you don’t want your ads to show for.

These are known as negative keywords, and they play an essential role in refining and optimizing your ads.

In this article, we will explore what negative keywords are, how to find and use them, and the benefits they can provide for your business.

What Are Negative Keywords?


A negative keyword is a term or phrase that you add to your Google Ads account to indicate which search queries you don’t want your ads to appear for.

Using negative keywords helps you reach the right audience and prevents your ad budget from being wasted on irrelevant search queries.

How Are Negative Keywords Used in Google Ads?

When someone types a search query into Google, the search engine determines which ads to show based on the keywords used.

When you add negative keywords to your Google Ads account, you’re telling Google that your ad should not show for those keywords.

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What Are the Benefits of Using Negative Keywords?

1. Saves Money

Negative keywords can help to exclude irrelevant search terms from your campaigns, saving you money by reducing the number of clicks on your ads from people who are unlikely to convert.

2. Increases Relevancy

Negative keywords help increase the relevancy of your ads by filtering out unwanted traffic. This means that your ads are more likely to reach the right people at the right time.

3. Improves Click-Through Rates

Using negative keywords can improve your click-through rate (CTR) because your ads will be shown to a more targeted audience that is more likely to engage with your content.

4. Enhances Ad Performance

By using negative keywords, you can focus your ad spend on keywords that are more relevant and likely to drive conversions. This improves the performance of your ads and helps you meet your campaign goals.

5. Saves Time

Negative keywords help you save time by preventing you from wasting time and money on keywords that are unlikely to convert. This allows you to focus your time and energy on optimizing your campaigns for the right keywords. 

How to Use Negative Keywords?

1. Find Negative Keywords

One of the most effective ways to find negative keywords is by analyzing your search terms report in Google Ads. The search terms report shows which search queries people have typed in to trigger your ads.

You can then identify any irrelevant search queries that you don’t want your ad to show for and add them to your negative keyword list.

2. Add Negative Keywords to Your Ad Campaign

Adding negative keywords to your ad campaign is simple. Navigate to your Google Ads account and select the ad group you want to add negative keywords to.

Click on “Keywords,” then select “Negative Keywords.” From here, you can enter the negative keyword terms you want to add and specify the match type.

3. Negative Keywords with Match Types

Google Ads offers three different types of match keywords: broad match, phrase match, and exact match. The match type determines how closely related a search query has to be for your ad to show.

When adding negative keywords, you can also specify the match type you want to use.

For example, if you want to exclude a specific phrase, use the negative phrase match keyword.

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What Is a Negative Keyword List?

A negative keyword list is a set of negative keywords that you add to your ad campaign. It’s a list of keywords that you don’t want your ad to show for. Negative keyword lists can be campaign-wide or ad-group-specific.

The best way to create a comprehensive negative keyword list is by analyzing your existing keywords and search queries. Review your search terms report regularly and identify any irrelevant search queries that your ad showed.

From there, add those terms to your negative keyword list. Additionally, brainstorm related keywords and phrases that you don’t want your ad to show for and add them to your list.

What Are the Different Types of Negative Keywords?

1. Broad Match

Negative broad match keywords prevent your ad from showing for any search query that includes the same word or phrase.

For example, adding the negative broad match keyword “free” would prevent your ad from showing for searches like “free shipping,” “free books,” and “free movies.”

2. Phrase Match

Negative phrase match keywords prevent your ad from showing for search queries that include the exact phrase you specify.

For example, adding the negative phrase match keyword “cheap flights” would prevent your ad from showing for searches like “cheap flights to Europe” and “cheap flights from Los Angeles.”

3. Exact Match

Negative exact match keywords prevent your ad from showing for the exact phrase you specify.

For example, adding the negative exact match keyword “flights to Paris” would prevent your ad from showing for searches like “flights to Paris from New York” and “cheap flights to Paris.”

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Examples of Negative Keywords

1. Common Negative Keywords for a PPC Campaign

Common negative keywords for a PPC campaign include terms like “free,” “cheap,” “jobs,” “reviews,” and “scam.” These keywords are typically associated with low-quality traffic or irrelevant search queries that are not likely to convert.

2. Identify Negative Keywords from The Search Terms Report

Identifying relevant negative keywords from the search terms report is critical to refining your ad’s performance. Scan the report for any irrelevant search queries that triggered your ad and add them to your negative keyword list.

For example, if you’re running an ad campaign for shoes, you might find that your ad shows terms like “shoe repair” or “shoe polish.”

Adding these terms as negative keywords will prevent your ad from showing for those search queries in the future.

3. Some Negative Keywords for An Ad Group

Negative keywords for an ad group are typically related to the product or service you’re promoting.

For example, if you’re running an ad campaign for a high-end restaurant, you might want to include negative keywords like “fast food,” “cheap eats,” and “takeout” to ensure you only reach your target audience.

How Can Negative Keywords Improve PPC Campaigns?

1. Save Ad Spend

Negative keywords save ad spending in several ways:

i) Preventing Irrelevant Traffic

Negative keywords prevent your ad from being shown to people who are searching for completely different things than what your product or service offers. This ensures that your ad is not displayed to people who are unlikely to convert.

ii) Avoid Wasting Clicks

By identifying and excluding negative keywords, you can avoid paying for clicks that are unlikely to convert. This helps you save money by only targeting users who are interested in your specific product or service.

iii) Increasing Click-Through Rate (CTR)

When you use negative keywords, you can improve your ad’s relevance score, which in turn can improve your CTR.

Ads that are more relevant to a user’s search query are more likely to be clicked, which reduces your ad spending while increasing conversions.

iv) Driving Higher Quality Traffic

When you use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant searches, you can drive higher quality traffic to your website. This can result in a higher percentage of visitors converting into paying customers, ultimately lowering your overall cost per conversion. 

2. Improve Click-Through-Rates

 Negative keywords can improve click-through rates (CTR) by preventing irrelevant or unwanted ads from being shown to potential customers.

When negative keywords are added to a campaign, it helps to refine the targeting of the ads, ensuring that they are only displayed to people who are likely to be interested in them.

This means that the ads are more likely to generate clicks from people who are genuinely interested in what is being offered as opposed to those who are not interested in the product or service being advertised.

By improving the targeting of the ads, negative keywords can increase the overall CTR of a campaign, leading to better engagement and ultimately better conversion rates.

3. Improve Ad Relevance

Negative keywords help improve ad relevance by excluding irrelevant search terms that could lead to wasted ad spend and decreased click-through rates.

By adding negative keywords, advertisers can refine their targeting and ensure that their ads are shown to the most relevant audience.

This helps to improve the quality score of the ads, which in turn leads to lower costs per click and higher ad positions.

Negative keywords also help to increase the overall click-through rate and conversion rate by ensuring that the ad is only shown to people who are searching for a relevant product or service.

Ultimately, negative keywords help advertisers focus their ad spend on the most valuable traffic, leading to increased ROI and overall campaign success.

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The conclusion – where everything wraps up in a neat little package.

Speaking of packages, let’s talk about negative keywords. Do you know those pesky little keywords that trigger your ads to show up in irrelevant Google searches?

Yeah, not cool.

So, what do we do?

Add the negative! In fact, many negative keywords. Using broad and phrase match keywords is crucial, but using negative broad match keywords to ensure your ads don’t show up in unrelated searches?

That’s genius.

Make sure to constantly update your new negative keyword list to avoid any keywords that may include additional words that could be detrimental to reaching your best potential audience.

The benefits of using negative keywords cannot be overstated. They ensure your ads only show up in relevant Google searches, saving you time and money.

So, make sure to keep a close eye on that negative keyword list, and any keywords to avoid should be immediately added. Remember, it’s all about ensuring that your ads reach the right people. 

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