Negative Keywords are one of the most powerful tools you have when running a Google Ads campaign. Used correctly and they can save you thousands of dollars. Used incorrectly however, and they can destroy your campaign performance. This article will help to clarify what negative keywords are and how you can use them to improve the results of your ads.

What are Negative Keywords?

Put simply, negative keywords determine which search terms you don’t want your ads to appear for. There can be a whole range of reasons why you don’t want to appear for some search terms, but in the example below you will be able to see a basic reason.

  • You are advertising a new notebook that people actually write in
  • Your ad shows whenever someone searches for the term “notebook”
  • After a couple of days you realise that your campaign has been showing for irrelevant search terms like
    • Asus Notebook
    • HP Notebook
    • The Notebook Movie Cast

These are search terms that aren’t relevant to your products, but share similar keywords. That’s where this form of campaign optimisation comes into play. We can negative out these specific terms or for any search term that contains “Asus”, “HP”, “Movie” or “Cast”. Not only will this help improve the quality of your traffic, but it will actually lower your overall cost.

How Can They Enhance Campaign Relevancy?

As you have seen in the example above, you can have similar search terms that mean completely different things. To avoid paying for irrelevant clicks, you need to review which search terms are coming through your campaigns and exclude all of ones that aren’t providing any value to your account.

The great thing about optimising your account this way is that it is permanent. Every time you review your search terms & implement them it improves the campaigns relevancy for as long as it is active. So there is a compounding effect when it comes to negative keywords. The more you input the better your campaign is going to work.

How Do Negative Keywords Influence PPC?

You can have a huge impact on the performance of your campaigns by implementing negative keywords. You campaign will permanently be more relevant. This means that you won’t be spending big on irrelevant clicks to your website, you won’t even show for search terms that aren’t relevant to your products and it also helps to improve how much you pay per click.

With Google Ads the amount you pay per click  is based on 2 factors

  1. Your Quality Score
  2. How much your competitors are willing to pay.

These two factors combine to give you your Ad Rank. The higher your Ad Rank, the higher your ad shows. So you have 2 options to get your ad consistently in the best position, you can either pay more for every click you get, or you can improve your Quality Score (of which Ad Relevancy & Historical Relevancy plays a big part). Check out the graph below to see the impact that negative keywords can have on your campaigns click through rate %. In this case it almost doubled in a matter of weeks.

Chart Showing CTR% Improvement From Negative Keywords in Google Ads
Impact of Negative Keywords on campaign Click Through Rate%

You can now see that negative keywords stop you spending on low quality clicks & actually make the high quality & highly relevant clicks cheaper. You can use them in your Google Search & Standard Shopping Campaigns to help improve your return.

Not sure how to set-up a Google Shopping campaign? Check out our how to set up Google Shopping Article, taking you step by step from start to finish!

How To Find Them In Google Ads?

You can find your negative keywords by going into each individual campaign. You can then click on Keywords & you will have options in the top menu. You can review your search terms by clicking on that menu item & then you can apply negative keywords by clicking on the ‘Negative Keyword’ Menu. Negative keywords can be applied at the campaign or at the ad group level.

Where To Find Negative Keywords In Google Ads
How To Find Negative Keywords In Google Ads

What Match Type To Use In Google Ads?

If used incorrectly, negative keywords can have a negative impact on the campaign performance. This can happen either through limiting potential relevant search terms or by excluding high quality search terms all together.

For this reason it’s best to be more specific with negative keywords. Start with exact match negative keywords by using the square brackets [ ]. If you see some repeated words that you know will never be relevant then you can use phrase match on that specific search term or word by using the quotation marks “ “.

Negative Keyword Match Type Examples In Google Ads
Negative Keyword Match Type Examples In Google Ads

There shouldn’t be any reason you need to use broad match modified or straight broad negative keywords. You will find that a combination of exact and phrase match is all you will need to see positive impacts across your account.

If you’re still not sure about how to run your Google Ads campaigns. Reach out and speak to a specialist about our Google Ads Management Services.

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