Google AdWords Basics – Negative Keywords

March 10, 2017 12:52 pm, Published by

Increase the performance of Google AdWords

In the last Google AdWords blog post “Keywords made easy”, we studied the various types of keywords. Negative keywords play just as an important role in optimising your campaigns. Specifically, negative keywords can mitigate the chances you spend money on clicks not related to your business. We will look at what negative keywords are, what they do and how best to identify and enter them.

What are ‘Negative’ Keywords? Are they ‘bad’?

Google defines negative keywords as words that “let you exclude search terms from your campaign”. At first glance this may not seem desirable. However, to have an effective campaign there must be clear targets.

As important as the keywords are to choosing who to target, to effectively target them, we must choose who not to target. This will put our ads in front of the people who are most interested, which will increase the return on investment (ROI) we can expect from our AdWords spend. The theory is simple,  if a negative keyword shows up in a search term, your ad will not appear. Let’s examine an example to better understand the concept.

If Paul uses keywords: lemon, cherry, banana and market, he might assume he is covering his market. If someone searches cherry market, Paul’s ad will show. However, Paul’s ad will also show for financial market, which is not Paul’s market.

Paul must then enter the word financial, or financial market as a negative keyword to avoid paying for this click in the future.

Entering negative keywords

Here is a simple method to check whether you need to add some negative keywords to your campaigns.

1. Check your search terms – Paul should go into his Fruit campaign and he will find the search term, “financial market”.


2. Add the word as a negative keyword

a) At the ad group level – so “financial markets” would only function as a negative keyword under the Cherry Market ad group.

b) At the campaign level – so “financial markets” would only function as a negative keyword under the whole Fruit Market ad group.

c) Negative keyword list.

The third option – negative keyword lists – can save you a lot of time. Negative keyword lists can be shared across all your campaigns or a selection of your campaigns. By adding the search term to the list, it will function as a negative keyword across all the related campaigns.

This very high level guide covers off the main details of negative keywords! Make sure you use them within your campaigns to better target your customers and increase your ROI!