Negative Keywords in Google Ads: How and Why Should You Use Them

If you’re reading this blog post right now, you’re probably familiar with PPC and how it works. If not, check out our article that explains what PPC is and how it works

So, what are negative keywords and how should you use them?

You can only get so specific with the keywords you use in your keywords, and as a result, it’s inevitable that your ads will show for irrelevant searches. Obviously, this is not a good thing and is something you will want to reduce as much as possible to save costs. This is where negative keywords come into play. 


What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are the keywords you add into your campaigns that you don’t want your ads to show for – essentially the opposite of what normal search keywords are. There are a number of different ways to find negative keywords, as well as ways to put them into use. 


Finding Negatives

When finding negative keywords to use, sometimes the keywords worth adding won’t be obvious so will require a little research. These are the tools we recommend using:

Google Keyword Planner

We suggest starting with Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This tool is commonly used for finding keywords worth bidding on in your campaigns, however, it can also be useful for finding negative keywords that you don’t want your ads to show for. A good place to start is by searching the current keywords that you’re bidding on. For example, if you’re an Accountant, you may bid on the keyword ‘accountant’ – you would then put this keyword into Keyword Planner to find any irrelevant keywords that may trigger your ads to show.

Keyword Sheeter

Keyword Sheeter is another great tool for finding negative keywords for your campaigns. As the name suggests, the tool gives you multiple potential search queries that could trigger your ads to show, based on the keywords you input. 

This tool is simple to use and offers extensive useful keyword data that will have you picking out negative keywords for days. You can also download your keywords as a CSV file in Google Ads and import the file directly into Keyword Sheeter.

Search Term Report

Another way to find potential negatives is to check your Search Term Report within Google Ads. With this, you can see the search terms that triggered your ads to show, and from there, find negative keywords worth adding into your campaign. This is a task you should be completing regularly as part of your Google Ads management.


Negative Keyword Match Types

The first choice you have when adding negative keywords is which match type you want to exclude as. If you want to exclude just one term completely, you can use exact match. If you want to exclude a term only in a certain context, then you can exclude it as phrase match. If you want to exclude a certain term in any context with any combination of words, then you would choose broad match. It’s best practice to keep your negatives tight so we don’t recommend using broad match often when adding negative keywords. 


How To Use Negative Keywords

After you have found negative keywords worth adding, you then have to decide how you want to add these into your campaigns. You can choose to add negative keywords in two different ways:

Add to a negative keyword list

Google Ads gives you the ability to create negative keyword lists which can be added to multiple campaigns. For smaller PPC accounts, you may consider using an account-wide negative list whereby all negative keywords in the list apply to the campaigns you choose. Negative keyword lists make your campaigns well-organised and allow you to easily view and add new negative keywords as and when you please.

Add to specific campaigns or ad groups 

You can add negative keywords to individual campaigns or ad groups for more granular control. This can be useful in an account that offers multiple services or products, or businesses that serve in multiple locations. For example, you may wish to add the negative keyword ‘UK’ to your USA targeted campaign.

Negative keywords can help reduce wasted spend and prevent your ads from showing in irrelevant searches – it’s important you have these in your PPC account if you haven’t already. If you require any additional support, check out our Free PPC Account Review.


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