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Negative Keywords: The Definitive Guide

Negative Keywords: The Definitive Guide

blog banner google ads negative keywords

blog banner google ads negative keywords

Many advertisers waste cash on inefficient Google Ads campaigns.

Amongst the most important price range wasters are campaigns triggering searchers queries that aren’t related.

These wasted clicks drive up the whole value and make it rather a lot tougher to get profitability.

The excellent news is you could simply repair this difficulty by utilizing destructive key phrases in Google Ads.

What are destructive key phrases?

Negative key phrases stop your advertisements from exhibiting up for particular search queries.

Here’s a fast instance.

Your retailer sells furnishings, and your bid for the key phrase “console”. While a few of your searchers’ queries are associated to desk consoles, you see that your advertisements have proven for phrases like “PlayStation 4 console” or “Xbox One console”.

As you don’t promote such merchandise, exhibiting your advert for these queries drains your price range.

So, to repair this drawback, you add “playstation 4 console” and “xbox one console” as destructive key phrases.

These two destructive key phrases will cease Google from exhibiting your furnishings advertisements when individuals seek for online game consoles.

The advantages of utilizing destructive key phrases

As this instance reveals, the primary advantage of destructive key phrases is that they prevent cash.

But there are a number of extra advantages:

  • Increase click-through price (CTR): present for extra related search queries
  • Improve high quality rating: higher CTR results in the next high quality rating which results in a decrease CPC
  • Increase conversion price: get increased high quality guests to your web site

How to seek out your destructive key phrases

Now that you understand what destructive key phrases are and why you need to use them, it’s time to seek out those you need to add to your marketing campaign and advert teams.

The manner we’ll discover these key phrases is to go very broad at first. We’ll use a bunch of various instruments to seek out potential destructive key phrases. I prefer to dump them right into a spreadsheet to evaluate and type them after.

I’ve put collectively a worksheet you need to use to comply with alongside.

The technique of discovering destructive key phrases is rather a lot like key phrase analysis.

Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is a superb software to seek out key phrases you need to bid on, you can too use it to find destructive matches.

You can discover it inside your Google Ads account:

google ads keyword planner

google ads keyword planner

Let’s say you’ve gotten an ecommerce retailer the place you promote cell chargers. So, you kind “charger” into the search bar.

google ads keyword planner to find negative keywords

google ads keyword planner to find negative keywords

As you possibly can see within the picture above, there is just one key phrase that could possibly be related for our smartphone enterprise. The others are associated to vehicles or soccer.

This is nice because it means that you can choose these related key phrases and add them to your spreadsheet.

Search Terms Report

google ads search terms reportgoogle ads search terms report

If you’re operating Google Ads campaigns (Search or Shopping), the Google Search Terms Report will present you all of the search queries for which your advertisements have appeared.

I often deal with this report by sorting on Impressions.

Then I scroll by way of the record and search for poor performing key phrases. These typically can have quite a lot of impressions, a low CTR, or a excessive value

Google search

find negative keywords using google search

find negative keywords using google search

This is perhaps the best software of all, a fast Google search will reveal key phrases, merchandise, and ideas and also you won’t have thought of.

The above seek for “bike”, reveals outcomes for bike excursions, bike upkeep tools, a stationary health bike, and a bike-sharing system.

So as you undergo these pages, you’ll come across a bunch of issues that don’t apply to your small business. Add all of them to your destructive key phrase spreadsheet.

Other key phrase analysis instruments


Find negative keywords with SoovleFind negative keywords with Soovle
Soovle key phrase software

You can use a third-party software like Soovle to find much more destructive matches. I admit it seems to be a bit dated however remains to be very helpful. This free software will present you widespread search queries in your key phrase on totally different web sites, resembling Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Wikipedia.

If you hover over the icons on the backside of the search bar, you’ll see the outcomes for every web site. Go by way of them, and search for all of the phrases that aren’t related to your small business.

I particularly just like the Amazon one, since most key phrases there has industrial intent.


Find negative keyword matches with SEMrushFind negative keyword matches with SEMrush

SEMrush supplies quite a lot of the information that Google Keyword Tool used to offer.

It has quite a lot of suggestions for associated key phrases, excellent to find extra negatives.

You can even take a look on the key phrases of your opponents, and uncover new candidates that manner.

Here is an instance of our teardown of Glossier’s promoting:

competitor search queries for glossier.comcompetitor search queries for glossier.com

Just from that record, we are able to already see a number of searches for competitor merchandise slipping by way of. These are excellent candidates so as to add to your potential destructive key phrase record.

SEMrush is a superb software, but it surely isn’t free. It enables you to entry to a restricted quantity of experiences, excellent should you don’t want quite a lot of information, or need to check if its one thing for you.


Another software I’d like to say is Ahrefs . It’s much like SEMrush however had rather a lot fewer PPC options. (When it involves search engine optimisation I really like Ahrefs rather a lot higher)

But that makes it nonetheless very usable for our process at hand, do key phrase analysis to seek out potential destructive key phrases.

Like SEMrush, Ahrefs can also be a subscription-based software. It doesn’t have a free plan.

Evaluating “bad keywords”

By now your spreadsheet ought to be fairly crammed with loads of potential destructive key phrases, time to guage them!

All the key phrases in your record could be decreased to four teams of destructive key phrases. I often will undergo my record of key phrases and create a column for every group, that may make the work in what follows simpler.

sorting negative keywordssorting negative keywords
Sort your destructive key phrases with our worksheet

Irrelevant phrases

The very first thing I do is put all of the fully irrelevant ones in a single column. These are those that damage the efficiency of your advertisements and drain your price range. They are often the simplest to identify and exclude.


You are promoting telephone chargers, and the search time period is dodge charger

You’re promoting robotic garden mowers and anyone is trying to find “robot lawn mower diy”.

Competitor phrases

The second group consists of competitor phrases. While it’s tempting at first to point out advertisements for these queries (should you promote the identical merchandise), they often aren’t very efficient.

Especially when you’ve got a brand new or lesser-known retailer.

If you’re hesitant about excluding them and have precise information on them from your individual campaigns, analyze the fee and income of those particular search queries. Maybe some opponents are worthwhile whereas others aren’t.


You promote automobile elements and somebody searches for “amazon bull bar”. Should you exclude Amazon?

Products not bought

This group is much like the competitor’s search phrases. But as a substitute of searches for an precise retailer, these are searches for merchandise you don’t promote (but).

Most individuals trying to find a model have already made up their minds, so it will likely be laborious to persuade them to purchase the model you’re promoting as a substitute.

CTRs and high quality scores additionally received’t be stellar should you’re not really utilizing the search time period in your advert.

Knowing that these search queries are occurring could be a kind of market analysis.

I’ve a consumer to whom I report these search queries. He makes use of it to determine traits out there or new scorching manufacturers to promote or look into.

So you possibly can exclude them, or leverage them like within the instance above.

Very generic phrases

The fourth and last group comprises the key phrases which might be most tough to guage.

These key phrases are those you’d LOVE to point out for organically (aka at no cost): they create in a ton of site visitors that’s searching for what you’re promoting.

The query you’ll have to reply on this part is whether or not you need to pay for them.

Having these key phrases in your marketing campaign include excessive prices (extra clicks), low CTR, and conversion charges.

Which search queries you exclude might be distinctive from retailer to retailer. But should you’re already hurting for profitability, it’s greatest to exclude these.

But it’s additionally straightforward to be too aggressive on this space. Google Ads doesn’t all the time work very simple. Some searches don’t herald gross sales immediately however do introduce quite a lot of potential prospects to the shop.

So including too many destructive key phrases might starve your campaigns from the oxygen it’s essential convert guests later within the funnel.

This is a difficult stability that turns into much more vital as you scale your campaigns.


Your retailer is promoting garden mowers and the search time period is “lawn mowers”.

If you discover it tough to exclude such seemingly useful search queries, the following part is for you.

The Grey Zone Search Query Checklist

This guidelines will show you how to to resolve what to do with the key phrases you’re hesitant to exclude.

Should they keep, or do you have to add them as destructive key phrases?

I’ve included explanations to all inquiries to make them clear:

  1. Does this search question have a low industrial intent?

If a search question has a low industrial intent, it implies that searchers aren’t but prepared to purchase your product.

  1. Does this search question have a CTR that’s under common?

A below-average CTR implies that your searchers are triggered by your advert, however they aren’t clicking it (as typically as you want). If you’re operating a Google Search Ads marketing campaign, take into account creating a brand new advert group with a extra related advert for the search time period.

  1. Does this search question have a conversion price that’s under common?
  2. Does this search question have a value per conversion that’s above common?

A below-average conversion price and an above-average value per conversion for a search question are indicators that the expectation of searchers aren’t met after they’ve clicked in your advert. There are many explanation why this occurs (e.g., your touchdown web page shouldn’t be optimized for cell gadgets). So except you possibly can work out the explanation, you need to exclude them.

If you answered sure to any of the questions above, then you need to take into account including that particular search time period as a destructive key phrase.

How so as to add destructive key phrases to your campaigns

By this level, you need to have reviewed all of the potential

As quickly as you’re prepared with evaluating the destructive key phrases in your spreadsheet, you possibly can add them to your campaigns and advert teams.

First, go to the marketing campaign the place you need to add destructive key phrases. Navigate to the Keywords tab and click on Negative Keywords within the high bar. Click the “+” icon to proceed.

Google Ads negative keywords tabGoogle Ads negative keywords tab

You can choose from two choices there: “Add negative keywords or create new list” and “Use negative keyword list.”

adding negative keywords to google ads campaign

adding negative keywords to google ads campaign

The subsequent part will look into creating destructive key phrase lists. Here we’ll give attention to including negatives to a selected marketing campaign or advert group.

So why would you add destructive key phrases to an advert group as a substitute of a marketing campaign degree?

Campaign degree destructive key phrases are key phrases you don’t need to present up for. These are the key phrases we’ve been speaking about on this article.

Ad group degree destructive key phrases are to stop a selected advert group triggering an advert for a search question. This is extra of a marketing campaign construction factor, like one thing it’s essential do with single key phrase advert teams.

Now earlier than we get to the sensible aspect, there may be one final vital element it’s essential know. That are the destructive key phrase match varieties.

Negative key phrase match varieties

Like with common key phrase match varieties, these extras are modifiers you possibly can add to your key phrases to regulate how restrictive Google handles them.

We are going to look into all three destructive key phrase match varieties, beginning with essentially the most restrictive choice.

Negative broad match

Examples of google ads negative broad match keywordsExamples of google ads negative broad match keywords
Image supply: Google

Negative broad match is the strictest destructive match kind.

As you possibly can see within the instance above, should you add the destructive broad match ‘running shoes,’ Google will stop your advert from exhibiting up for this actual phrase (trainers), the reverse model (sneakers operating), but in addition when this actual phrase is included in a key phrase (blue trainers).

However, your advertisements will nonetheless present for searchers if their queries include solely part of your destructive key phrase (operating or sneakers).

Negative phrase match

Examples of google ads negative phrase match keywordsExamples of google ads negative phrase match keywords
Image supply: Google

When you add a destructive phrase match key phrase, searchers received’t see your advert if their queries embrace the precise key phrase phrases in the identical order.

So, should you add the destructive phrase match key phrase “running shoes”, your advert received’t present up for any queries that include this phrase. But searchers who invert the order of the key phrase (sneakers operating) will see your commercial in Google.

Negative phrase match is my private favourite because it provides advertisers a advantageous stability between management and adaptability. If you employ this match kind proper, you possibly can eliminate most irrelevant key phrases whereas not hurting the attain of your advertisements.

Negative phrase match has one extra profit. You know precisely what you’re excluding, not like broad match the place you would be excluding extra searches than you assume you’re.

Negative actual match

Examples of google ads negative exact match keywordsExamples of google ads negative exact match keywords
Image supply: Google

Putting your destructive key phrases in brackets prevents your advert from exhibiting up for individuals when their queries include the precise phrase, in the identical order, and with out additional phrases.

As you possibly can see within the instance, the destructive actual match key phrase [running shoes] received’t present for searches solely within the case they Google ‘running shoes’.

If searchers reverse the order of the phrases, add additional phrases, or use a key phrase that comprises solely one of many two phrases of the phrase your advert will present.

This match kind is sensible for key phrases which might be very generic. You may need to exclude a selected search, whereas nonetheless exhibiting up when individuals seek for associated issues.

If you promote garden mowers, you may need to exclude [lawn mower] so that you’re nonetheless capable of present for long-tail searches like “robot lawn mower”.

Example: Adding your destructive key phrases with match varieties

Let’s check out how that every one works in observe.

I’m taking by destructive key phrases spreadsheet, which lists the key phrases with out match varieties, and can add them to the campaigns.

Here is the column with irrelevant phrases:

irrelevant search queries google ads

irrelevant search queries google ads

And right here is how I’d add these to my Search marketing campaign:

google ads negative keywords with match types

google ads negative keywords with match types

You can see that the majority key phrases within the record have been shortened.

That’s as a result of I’m seeking to exclude the utmost quantity of irrelevant search queries.

I might add “rocky balboa apollo creed large poster” as a destructive key phrase. And that might cease these searches from coming by way of.

But as a substitute, I’ve added “rocky balboa”. My considering behind that is that it excludes a bunch of additional searches that might come by way of in any other case.

Level up with destructive key phrase lists

While it’s straightforward so as to add destructive key phrases to an advert group or marketing campaign, in some unspecified time in the future it will get laborious to handle.

If you’ve gotten a number of campaigns operating, you’ll have so as to add new destructive key phrases to every of your campaigns.

This guide labour provides up quick and it permits for errors.

The answer to this drawback is destructive key phrase lists.

Negative key phrase lists can share destructive key phrases between campaigns.

Using destructive key phrase lists, you’ve gotten one place to group (or evaluate) all the key phrases you’re excluding. This is tremendous handy should you’re monitoring down a key phrase that shouldn’t have been excluded.

Also, utilizing destructive key phrase lists is essential when you’re operating a number of Google Shopping campaigns and segmenting them primarily based on the search queries.

How to create destructive key phrase lists

Google Ads negative keyword lists

Google Ads negative keyword lists

TO get to the Negative key phrase lists menu, click on the “Tools & Settings” icon on the highest of the web page, and choose “Negative keyword lists” from the dropdown menu.

Click the “+” icon to create a brand new record. Name your record, then prepare so as to add all of the search queries that aren’t related to your small business as destructive key phrases.

Create negative keyword lists in Google Ads

Create negative keyword lists in Google Ads

As the ultimate step, choose the marketing campaign(s) you need to apply the destructive key phrase record.

How so as to add your destructive key phrase record to a marketing campaign

You can even apply a destructive key phrase record once you’re engaged on an precise marketing campaign.

If you’re contained in the destructive key phrases menu and click on the “+” icon, you’ll see the choice to make use of an current destructive key phrase record.

Apply a negative keyword list to a campaign in Google Ads

Apply a negative keyword list to a campaign in Google Ads

Now choose the record(s) you need to use for the marketing campaign, and click on “Save”.

Which destructive key phrase lists to create

Now that you understand how to create destructive lists, let’s take a look at a few widespread destructive key phrase lists.

Here are the lists that I typically use:

  • General: record of irrelevant search queries
  • Competitors: add principal opponents
  • Products not bought: add competitor manufacturers
  • Generics: very generic search queries that don’t convert (nicely sufficient)
  • Brands: all manufacturers retailer sells (together with the shop’s personal model)
  • Products: all product names

I received’t apply all of the above lists to all campaigns, but it surely provides me quite a lot of flexibility to work with.

Adding destructive key phrases from the Search Terms Report

The course of outlined on this article works fairly nicely should you’re within the technique of reviewing your key phrases or beginning once more.

But more often than not, you’ll be sifting by way of your Search phrases report back to determine destructive key phrase candidates.

Then you possibly can add them straight from that report. First choose the key phrases you need to exclude, then click on “Add as negative keyword” within the high bar:

google ads search terms report negative keyword

google ads search terms report negative keyword

Then you’ll have a bunch of choices:

negative keyword options

negative keyword options

You can add destructive key phrases to the Ad group, marketing campaign or a destructive key phrase record.

This final choice makes it tremendous straightforward to maintain new destructive key phrases synced between campaigns.

But earlier than you hit Save, we have to evaluate the precise key phrase and its match kind.

By default, Google Ads will add new destructive key phrases as a destructive actual match. Which means you’re solely excluding searches for that actual search question.

In this case, I need to exclude all future search queries for “cs hammond”, so I’ve modified the key phrase accordingly:

changing negative keyword match type in google ads

changing negative keyword match type in google ads

🔑 To Using Negative Keywords Effectively

Searching for and including new destructive key phrases to your campaigns could be a labor-intensive course of, but it surely comes with nice advantages and is an important a part of your optimization routine.

With the correct destructive key phrase technique, your advertisements will replicate higher what you need to provide.

Your CTR and conversion charges will enhance, which implies your price range will stretch additional, and your ROAS will rise finally.

Bonus: Get our Negative Keywords worksheet which features a template, samples and premade destructive key phrase lists. Grab it right here!

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