March 18, 2024
Google Ads: What Are Negative Keywords?
What Are Negative Keywords?

Google Ads: What Are Negative Keywords?

Want to unlock the secrets to running Google Ads like an SEO boss? Luckily, the team at Suite Edge, a digital advertising agency, is here to help you optimize your Google Ads campaigns! Excited to learn more? We’re excited to share! Keep reading! 


What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are words or phrases deliberately added to PPC campaigns to prevent Google from showing ads in irrelevant contexts. These keywords act as filters in search results, websites, or video content. You want Google to show your ads to the most relevant audience, so you aren’t wasting money, and people aren’t wasting time. For instance, a luxury car dealer might add “cheap” as a negative keyword to avoid appearing when users want a cost-effective option.

Understanding and using negative keywords is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into negative keywords. What are they? Why do they matter? And how can they transform your advertising? 


What's a PPC Campaign?

What’s a PPC Campaign?

Before we get into negative keywords, you may wonder what a PPC campaign means. 

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, campaigns online advertising where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. Instead of earning organic clicks, you can buy visits to your website. While people usually think of search engines when they think of PPC, you can use it on social media.

Here’s a breakdown of how PPC campaigns typically work:


Ad Creation:

Advertisers create ads that search engines or social media platforms show. These ads usually have a headline, description, and a link to a landing page.


Keyword Selection:

For search engine PPC campaigns, advertisers select relevant keywords or phrases that trigger their ads to appear when users search for those terms. For example, if you bid on the keyword “garden hose,” your ad may appear when someone searches for “best garden hose” or similar queries.


Bid Auction:

Advertisers bid on the highest amount they will pay for a click on their ad. The bidding process happens in an auction format, where the highest bidder gets the top position in the ad space.


Ad Placement:

When someone does a search for a keyword, the search engine runs an auction to decide which ads will show and in what order. The bid amount impacts ad placement and ad relevance.


Cost Structure:

Google charges advertisers when someone clicks on the ad. Hence, the term “pay-per-click.” The cost per click (CPC) will change based on competition, keyword relevance, and ad quality.


Ad Tracking and Analytics:

Advertisers use tracking tools and analytics to monitor the performance of their PPC campaigns. This includes tracking clicks, impressions, conversion rates, and other metrics. These metrics help you assess the effectiveness of the advertising strategy.


Landing Page:

Clicking on a PPC ad takes the person to a landing page on your website. Ideally, you have a landing page encouraging the visitor to take a specific action—for example, making a purchase or filling out a form.


Budget Control:

Advertisers set a certain budget (daily or monthly) to control their overall advertising costs. Once your budget reaches its limit, the ad stops, and you can adjust your campaign or refill your budget.


Ad Content Optimization:

Successful PPC campaigns involve continuously optimizing ad content, keywords, and targeting parameters. This optimization improves ad relevance, click-through rates, and overall campaign performance.

Understanding Keywords in Google Ads

Understanding Keywords in Google Ads

Before diving into negative keywords, let’s establish a solid understanding of them and their role in Google Ads. Keywords are the building blocks to creating a successful ad campaign because they tell Google when and where to show your ads. When users enter search queries into Google, the search engine uses these keywords to match relevant ads.

For instance, if you’re running an online garden store and bid on the keyword “garden hoses,” your ad may show up when users search for that specific term. Keywords are the connection between a potential customer and your products or services.


The Power of Negative Keywords

While selecting the right keywords is crucial, negative keywords play a key role in refining your targeting. They also help you make sure your ads reach the most relevant audience. Negative keywords are words or phrases you intentionally exclude from your ad campaign. By specifying these negative keywords, you tell Google not to display your ads when users search for particular terms. This prevents irrelevant clicks and helps you get the most bang for your buck!


The Benefits of Negative Keywords

The Benefits of Negative Keywords

Improved Click-Through Rate (CTR)

  • Negative keywords increase CTR by ensuring only interested users see your ads. A higher click-through rate with a relevant audience means you get more bang for your buck!
  • In the realm of PPC advertising, where you have to pay every time someone clicks, negative keywords save you money! You want the right person to click on your ad. 
  • By excluding clicks from users uninterested in your products or services, you get the most bang for your buck!
  • A higher CTR improves your ad’s visibility and positively influences your Quality Score, a crucial factor in Google Ads rankings.
  • Google’s Quality Score is an important metric affecting ad visibility. Negative keywords contribute to a higher Quality Score by ensuring ad relevance to landing pages.
  • An improved Quality Score boosts ad visibility and helps your ad placement when competing with other ads. 

Enhanced Ad Relevance:

  • Excluding irrelevant searches means your ads are more likely to match the specific needs of your target audience.
  • This leads to improved user experience and increases the likelihood of conversions.


Enhanced Conversions:

  • By streamlining your budget and securing better ad placement through negative keywords, you set the stage for increased clicks and conversions.
  • The precision achieved with negative keywords directs your ads to people who are looking for what you offer.

Brand Image Protection:

  • Failure to use negative keywords may lead to ads appearing with terms that could harm your brand image.
  • Negative keywords act as a shield, preventing users from associating your brand with terms you don’t want associated with your brand. For example, if you want customers to think of luxury when they think of your car dealership, you may want to remove keywords like “cheap.”


Negative Keyword Match Types

Understanding the match types for negative keywords is key to building a solid strategy. In Google Ads, three primary match types exist:


Broad Match Negative Keywords:

  • This is the default setting for negative keywords in Google Ads.
  • Makes sure that ads won’t show up when a search query includes all negative keywords, regardless of the order.

Phrase Match Negative Keywords:

Ads won’t display if the search query includes the specified keyword terms in the exact order, even if additional words are present.


Exact Match Negative Keywords:

The most specific match type! This match type prevents ads from showing only when the search query precisely matches the negative keyword terms in the exact order.


Implementing Negative Keywords Strategically

You can organize your Google Ads account at three levels: account, campaign, and ad group. You can also add negative keywords at each level, offering varying degrees of control and efficiency.

Account-Level Negative Keywords:

  • Apply to all campaigns within an account.
  • Ideal for managing universal negative keywords that are irrelevant across all campaigns.

Campaign-Level Negative Keywords:

  • These keywords will apply to all ads within a specific campaign.
  • Effective for blocking out broad terms that are irrelevant to the entire campaign.

Ad Group-Level Negative Keywords:

  • These keywords apply to specific ad groups within a campaign.
  • Offer granular control, allowing advertisers to tailor negative keywords based on ad group themes.


Finding Negative Keywords - A Practical Approach

Finding Negative Keywords – A Practical Approach

It can be a little overwhelming to start down the negative keyword path. But don’t worry! We are here to help you every step of the way and get you started with a few practical tips.

1. Keyword Research

Utilize keyword research tools to identify potential negative keywords.

Look for terms irrelevant to your campaign, such as “cheap,” “outlet,” or “secondhand,” and add them to your list.


2. Competitor Analysis

Analyze competitors’ keywords to gain insights into potential negative keywords.

Identify terms used by competitors that may be similar but not directly relevant to your brand.


3. Manual Searches

Conduct manual searches related to your ad campaign to identify irrelevant terms.

Use Google’s autocomplete feature to discover additional negative keywords.


4. Google Keyword Planner

Leverage Google Keyword Planner to discover new keyword ideas.

Identify and add irrelevant keywords to your negative keyword list.


5. Google Ads Search Terms Report


Regularly take time to review your Search Terms Report in Google Ads.


Identify and add irrelevant search terms directly to your negative keyword list.


Implementing and Managing Negative Keywords

After identifying negative keywords, the next step is actually applying them. Here’s how you can add and manage them in Google Ads:

  1. Add Your Negative Keywords from the Search Terms Report:
    1. Check the boxes next to relevant keywords in the Search Terms Report.
    2. Click “Add as negative keyword” and choose the level (ad group, campaign, or new/existing list).
  2. Add Negative Keywords from the Dashboard:
    1. Click “Campaigns” in your Google Ads account.
    2. Select “Negative search keywords” under “Audiences, keywords, and content” and add negative keywords.
  3. Apply Negative Keyword Lists:
    1. Apply negative keyword lists to campaigns or ad groups for efficient management.
    2. Choose the relevant list and apply it to achieve consistent targeting.


Best Practices for Negative Keywords

Best Practices for Negative Keywords

To maximize the effectiveness of negative keywords, consider these best practices:


Include Plural and Singular Keywords:

Add both the singular and the plural forms of keywords to ensure comprehensive coverage.


Use Symbols with Care:

Understand Google Ads’ recognition of symbols and use them judiciously.


Experiment with Match Types:

Experiment with different match types to gain more control over which queries trigger your ads.


Find and Remove Low-Performing Keywords:

Regularly review “Search Terms” reports to identify and remove low-performing keywords.


Continuously Monitor and Review:

Stay alert by using search terms reports, customer feedback, and conversion data to find new negative keyword opportunities.


Keep Optimizing Your Keyword Lists:

PPC is dynamic, and optimization is an ongoing process. Regularly update and optimize your negative keyword lists to align with changing campaign goals and dynamics.


Types of Negative Keywords

Broad Match Negative Keywords

Like broad match keywords, these negative keywords prevent your ads from showing for a wide range of related search terms.

For example, if your business only sells new cars, you might use “used” as a broad match negative keyword.


Phrase Match Negative Keywords

These negative keywords prevent your ads from appearing when users search for a specific phrase.

Using our car example, a phrase that matches the negative keyword could be “secondhand cars.”


Exact Match Negative Keywords

These negative keywords provide the highest level of specificity, ensuring that your ads won’t display for an exact term.

Continuing with the car example, “rebuilt car” could be an exact match negative keyword.


Suite Edge: Making Businesses Famous

Suite Edge: Making Businesses Famous

In the dynamic realm of online advertising, mastering the art of negative keywords is a game-changer. By strategically excluding irrelevant searches, you can optimize your budget and ensure that your ads go to your interested audience. As you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of Google Ads, embrace the power of negative keywords to elevate the effectiveness of your campaigns and drive meaningful results for your business! 

We know running your business takes a lot of time and energy. If you want to take some of the pressure off of you, let us help! We’ve been making small businesses famous and big companies even more famous for years! Call our team to schedule a free consultation today!

Learn more about making your businesses famous and see what we’re doing for other businesses just like yours on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

Published: March 18, 2024
Author: Suite Edge Author
Categories : Uncategorized