What Are Negative Keywords in PPC? How To Get The Most Out Of Your Ad Spend

28 January 2020

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A negative keyword is a word or phrase that when searched, prevents your paid search ad from being displayed for whoever made the search query.

In contrast to a regular keyword, it provides search engines with guidelines for the type of search terms that you don’t want to appear for.

Why Would You Use Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are a great way to help avoid any ambiguity surrounding keywords that you may be looking to target.

For example if you were looking to sell high-end televisions, it would make sense to include “cheap TVs” as a negative keyword.

As people looking for a bargain are unlikely to be your target audience.

In addition to this, it is important to identify your user’s intent. Taking the search term “Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

Users could either be looking for a store or bakery that sell cookies or alternatively they could be looking for a recipe for how to make them.

So in this instance you would add “bakery” or “recipe” as a negative keyword, depending on which type of user you are looking to target.

How To Add Negative Keywords

When working through any of your previous campaigns & ad groups, you have probably noticed the negative keywords tab located beside the keywords tab.

Depending how in-depth your campaign is, you have the option to apply a negative keyword at a campaign level, alternatively you can assign them for specific ad groups within a campaign.

Much like with regular keywords, you have the option to choose between exact, broad or phrase match.

Once you have created a list of negative keywords you will then have the ability to apply them across multiple campaigns that they may also be applicable for. This will save you the need of manually adding common negative keywords across multiple campaigns.

However, it's important to note that any changes that you make to your negative keyword list, will be applied to all campaigns associated with said list. If you need any assistance with this, visit the Google Ads Help Centre.

Negative Keyword Match Types

Lets look at some of these match types in greater detail using the example of a bakery & you may want to avoid terms in relation to "store bought".

Broad match: By adding store bought as a negative broad match keyword, queries containing both “store”, and "bought" won’t trigger your ad. So, if someone searches “best cookies bought from a store,” your ad won’t show.

Phrase Match: If you were to add store bought as a negative phrase match keyword, only a search query that contains “store bought” as an in-tact phrase will prevent your ad from being displayed. Meaning your ad could still show for “best cookies bought from a store”, but not for “the best store bought cookies”.

Exact Match: Alternatively, by including store bought as a negative exact match keyword, you will only prevent your ad from showing when someone searches “store bought” and only that. A negative exact match for "store bought" would mean “best cookies bought from a store” & “the best store bought cookies” wouldn't be prevented from being shown.

How To Find Negative Keywords

At times, the search terms that you want to exclude will be obvious, however there will be occasions when a bit more research is required.

Here are some of the methods that we have found to be quite effective.

Manual searches: Put together a list of around 5-10 keywords you are looking to target, from here search each of them. Examine each of the Ads that appear, as well as the meta titles & descriptions or any organic results, to see which results aren’t relevant to what you are wanting to advertise.

Google autofill: Suggestions offered by Google can be a great way to identify some keywords that you may want to avoid targeting. With every letter that you enter into Google’s Search Bar, you will be presented with a variety of potential search terms that people may be asking.

Keyword research: Here at Loud Mouth Media, we use some great keyword research tools such as SEMrush & the standard 'Keyword Planner' available in AdWords, as well as websites such as Answer The PublicThese research tools enable advertisers to establish user’s intent surrounding certain keywords & identify negative keywords before they are able to start driving up your Ad Costs.

Search terms report: Your search terms report highlights the various search terms that match your keywords & product groups which trigger your ads on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You can use this report to to identify the queries that result in low value/high cost traffic. From here you can add these search terms to your negative keywords to ensure that these ads are not being associated with these search terms.

Expert Tip

If your campaign includes both brand & non-brand material, you will want to ensure that any of your branded terms are included as negative keywords within your non-brand campaign. This will guarantee that your branded terms will only appear within your branded campaign. This in turn will make it easier for you to establish how you are performing for brand in relation to non-brand.

Continue To Monitor Your Campaigns

Negative keywords are essential when it comes getting the most out of your Adwords budget. However it’s worth noting that your campaigns will always need adjustments once it has been set up.

New data, trends & search terms continually come to the fore. In addition to this there is the ever changing tactics of your fellow competitors that need to be observed. If you don’t, you will find yourself wasting money & failing to maximise your profits.

Are you looking to get your PPC campaigns ready for 2020? – Get in Touch to find out how Loud Mouth Media can help you out!