What are Negative Keywords in Google Ads?
Negative keywords block your PPC ads from displaying in Google searches that you deem to be irrelevant or unprofitable.
For example, if you only sell red shoes on your website but the search query is for ‘black shoes’, then you would want to add ‘black’ as a negative keyword so that your advert does not serve and waste your PPC budget on people looking for products or services that you don’t provide.
Why Use Negative Keywords?
Negative keywords serve two key benefits. Firstly, they save money by preventing your ads being served to people not looking for your products or services. Secondly, negative keywords will improve your Click Through Rate by blocking your advert from similar irrelevant search queries. An improved Click Through Rate (CTR), will provide additional benefits by increasing your Quality Scores. Google reward advertisers with higher Quality Scores with higher ad positions and lower CPCs.
How To Add Negative Keywords in Google Ads?
Look for ‘Keywords > Negative Keywords’ in the left column of the Google Ads user interface. Click on the blue + button and insert the keywords that will block your ads from serving in Google Search. You can choose to add these negative keywords at Ad Group or Campaign level.
Negative Keyword Match Types
There are three match types for negative keywords and they operate differently to your normal positive keywords.
The negative keywords only trigger if search term exactly matches the negative keyword, unlike positive keywords that can trigger synonyms, singular/plural, typos, etc.
Exact Match Negative Keywords
This will only block the search query that matches the exact match negative keyword and will not exclude typos or similar versions.
Examples for the exact match negative -[orange football boots]
- ‘football boots’ – AD DISPLAYS
- ‘football boots orange’ – AD DISPLAYS
- ‘orange fotball boots’ – AD DISPLAYS
- ‘buy orange football boots’ – AD DISPLAYS
- ‘orange football boots’ – BLOCKED
Phrase Match Negative Keywords
Phrase Match negative keywords will block the search query that matches the exact match negative keyword, including any other search terms before or after but it will not exclude typos or similar versions.
Examples for the phrase match negative -“orange football boots”
- ‘orange football boot sale’ – AD DISPLAYED
- ‘buy football boots orange’ – AD DISPLAYED
- ‘orange fotball boots sale’ – AD DISPLAYED
- ‘buy orange football boots’ – BLOCKED
- ‘where can I buy orange football boots’ – BLOCKED
Broad Match Negative Keywords
Braod Match negative keywords will block the search query that matches the exact match negative keyword, including any other search terms before/after, in any order but will not exclude typos or similar versions.
Examples for the broad match negative -orange football boots
- ‘orange football boot sale in Manchester’ – AD DISPLAYED
- ‘orange football boot discount codes ‘ – AD DISPLAYED
- ‘buy football boots in orange’ – BLOCKED
- ‘orange coloured football boots on sale’ – BLOCKED
What are Negative Keyword Lists?
Google Ads provide a feature that allows you to block unwanted search terms from triggering your ad, across several campaigns from one list.
This option can save you time from manually uploading the same negative keywords to several ad groups & campaigns (maybe hundreds or thousands!). You can find Negative keywords lists in the Shared Library, from the main top menu (Tools > Shared Library > Negative Keyword Lists).
A maximum of 20 negative keyword lists in each account with up to 5,000 negative keywords per list are the restrictions.
Can I use Negative Keywords in Smart Shopping Campaigns?
No, this functionality is not available in Smart Shopping campaigns and is something to seriously consider if you’re deciding on launching a new Smart Shopping campaign.
Google have Stopped Reporting on All Search Terms
Over 20% of search terms are blocked in Google Ads UI after an update in September 2020, the official response given for the change was for privacy reasons but this could easily be financially driven.
The issue this creates for advertisers is the inability to easily identify irrelevant search terms triggering ad impressions, clicks & costs.
More comprehensive search term data is available in the Google Analytics search query report.