Importance of Negative Keywords in PPC

What is the Importance of Negative Keywords in PPC


While running an Adwords campaign, you might where all your money goes off giving you zero ROI. While there might be many reasons for this to happen, the presence of negative keywords is mostly overlooked. To optimize your Google Ads campaign, you might look forward to ensuring their proper use. Hey! How do you make use of this important tool? No worries, let’s uncover what is the importance of negative keywords in PPC, how they play their role and most efficient means to add them.

Importance of Negative Keywords

So, What are Negative Keywords?

When we add a negative keyword to a Google Ads campaign. You’re telling the Google algorithm that you don’t want to show your ad if certain words or phrases are present in a user-generated search result.

For example, let’s say your keyword is ‘children’s bicycle’, but your store only sells new bikes. Adding ‘used’ to your negative keyword list means your ad won’t come up if a user searches for ‘used children’s bicycle’.

Further, you must include negative keywords and keep a regular check on your search terms report. This would help you to cut down irrelevant words or phrases, especially if you added keywords using broad match.

Always account that you are paying Google for every click. Why would you want to pay for clicks that you know won’t bring any ROI for your business?

Like keywords, negative keywords too, have match types: negative phrase match, negative broad match, & negative exact match. There is no negative modified broad match. As per Google, “the negative matches work differently than their positive counterparts. The main difference is that you’ll need to add synonyms, misspellings, singular or plural versions. You may also add other close variations if you want to exclude each of them out.”

The taxonomy for the negative match types is a minus sign (). It is followed by either “quotation marks” for negative phrase match or [square brackets] for a negative exact match. If you only use the minus sign, your keyword is in negative broad match, which I do not recommend using.

How to Check Your Search Terms Report

To see all search terms that triggered clicks, navigate to the Keywords tab and click on “Search terms.” Here, you’ll find the actual search terms that users typed into Google search bar when they clicked your ad. You can place a checkmark on an individual keyword to see how broad match, modified broad match, or phrase match expanded your keyword list.

The irrelevant searches words or phrases that you find in the Search terms report should be added to the negative keywords list.

How to Add Negative Keywords to Your Campaign

You must sort your search terms by descending impressions. This way you start with queries that most often triggered your ads. When you add a checkbox to select a search term that’s irrelevant, an option appears to Add as a negative keyword. When you add negative keywords from here, the default match type is a negative exact match, which you’ll see by square brackets. In the used bicycle example, the word used would never be relevant, so it’s better to add -“used” as a negative phrase match keyword, rather than trying to add each exact match to an iteration of user queries. This way, you’ll have filtered most junk from the future.

Yes, you don’t have to wait for irrelevant search queries to appear on your screen to add negative keywords. Negative keywords should be an integral part of building your keyword list at the beginning of campaign planning.

Shared Negative Keywords Lists

If negative keywords are to be shared among several campaigns, you can save time by creating a Negative Keyword List in your Shared Library.


To do so, go to Tools in the upper right-hand corner of your dashboard. Under Shared Library option, click on Negative keyword lists. Click the blue ‘+’ sign to create a new list. Give it a name, add your list of keywords (don’t forget to use negative keyword taxonomy) and save the list. When done, you can assign this list to any current or future campaign.

Common Negative Keyword Scenarios to Account When Creating Campaign

As every ad campaign is different, they scenarios won’t all apply to each business. In fact, you may find that you might need to target some of these keywords. Here’s a list of ideas for starters,

  • Free: queries that include “free” or “for free.” For example, Let’s say you sell a paid software solution, but you don’t think it’s worth it to advertise to people who include “free” in their queries. You may add -“free” as a negative phrase match keyword.
  • Geographical: Adding any geographic areas that you don’t serve or that don’t apply to your products. For example, If you own a business which sells international toll-free phone numbers. You could add those country names as negative keywords of which you don’t offer toll-free numbers.
  • Informational (as opposed to transactional): Adding queries that include “what are,” “what is,” or “definition”. For example, Suppose you sell a Bluetooth device but find people are clicking on your ad after searching something like “what is a Bluetooth” or “What does a Bluetooth do”.
  • Acronyms: Adding queries that include “what does” or “stand for”. For example, If your keyword includes an acronym like PPC, you might want to cut out queries such as “full form of PPC” or “what does PPC stand for”.
  • Competitors: Adding the names of other businesses or domains. Sometimes it’s strategic to bid on your competitor’s name. Yet, if you find these clicks result in high bounce rates or low ROI, you might want to consider adding their names to your negative keywords list.
  • Comparisons: Adding queries that include “difference between,” “vs,” or “comparison”. At times, search users may still be in their consideration phase if they’re comparing your product or service to another. So, it’s best to keep your cost down by avoiding these type of keywords.
  • Discount Codes or Coupons: Are people ready to buy your product. That’s great! But do they tend to go to Google in the middle of checkout to look for discount codes? Consider adding relevant negative keywords so you could save your money over these clicks.

Hurray! You completed your knowledge on the importance of negative keywords in PPC. Hope this post was helpful! Got feedback? The comment section is all yours. 🙂

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