Finding and eliminating irrelevant keywords is the simplest way to minimise waste in your Google Ads campaigns. But irrelevant keywords do not only squander your budget, as they negatively impact click-through and conversion rate too.
In this guide, we will be sharing our advice on using negative keywords. From finding wasteful keywords to ensuring you use the right match type; you will find everything you need to effectively use negative keywords and improve the efficiency of your Google Ads.
In this guide, we will answer:
- What Are Negative Keywords?
- Where to Find Negative Keywords?
- How to Add Negative Keywords?
- How to Use Keyword Match Types?
What Are Negative Keywords?
As the name suggests, negative keywords allow you to prevent your ads being shown for particular search queries. Therefore, preventing your budget being squandered by similar yet irrelevant searches that send low quality traffic to your website that is unlikely to convert.
Once introduced, Google will stop showing your ads for any searches queries that contain the negative keyword. Of course, this depends upon the keyword match type you have used when adding them to your account, campaign or ad group.
As you can imagine, negative keywords are therefore a handy way to mitigate wastage and reduce your cost per conversion. But a lack of negative keywords remains one of the most common Google Ads mistakes our team come across.
Where to Find Negative Keywords?
Before you can introduce negative keywords, you must firstly identify irrelevant queries your ads are being shown for. Thankfully, this can be easily done through the Search Terms Report found in Google Ads.
You can view this report by selecting ‘Keywords’ and then ‘Search Terms’ within the left-hand menu of Google Ads. Dependent upon the structure of your account, you may benefit from viewing the search terms for an entire campaign or individual ad group.
Whilst you can browse the search terms your ads displayed from within Google Ads, we prefer to export them into either Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. You can do this by selecting the ‘Download’ option located in the upper right-hand corner of the table.
Once downloaded, you will be presented with almost all the search queries your ads were shown for. You will also be able to see how many impressions, clicks, and conversions you gained for each. This makes it easy to identify those gaining the most clicks but fewest conversions.
You can then begin the manual yet necessary process of reviewing the queries. As well as queries that contain irrelevant words, keep an eye out for those that have low intent. These may be those seeking information or looking to compare options.
How to Add Negative Keywords?
You can add negative keywords at an account, campaign, or ad group level. Whilst the process is similar for each, you will need to visit different spots within the Google Ads interface.
Account Level Negative Keywords
If you have identified search queries that you want to exclude from several campaigns, you should add them to a Negative Keyword List. This list can then be applied to any existing campaigns and new campaigns you create, allowing you to minimise wastage at scale.
To create a negative keyword list, simply choose ‘Tools & Settings’ from the top menu and then select ‘Negative Keyword Lists’ from within the Shared Library section. When viewing a particular list, you can easily manage which campaigns it is applied to.
Campaign Level Negative Keywords
If you have discovered search queries that you want to exclude from all ad groups within a campaign, then you can add the negative keywords to the campaign itself. This will then apply to any current and future ad groups within that campaign.
To add a negative keyword to a particular campaign, simply select the appropriate campaign from the left-hand panel within Google Ads. Then choose ‘Keywords’ before selecting ‘Negative Keywords’ from the secondary left-hand panel.
Ad Group Level Negative Keywords
If you have found search queries that you want to exclude from a particular ad group but not the entire campaign, then you can introduce a negative keyword to the ad group alone. This will have no impact on any other ad group within the same campaign.
To add a negative keyword to a specific ad group, just choose the appropriate campaign and ad group from the left-hand panel inside of Google Ads. Then select ‘Keywords’ before choosing ‘Negative Keywords’ from the secondary left-hand panel.
How to Use Keyword Match Types?
Whichever approach you take to adding negative keywords, you will need to carefully select the match type you use. This will determine how broadly Google applies the negative keywords, which could significantly impact its effectiveness.
When choosing the keyword match type you have a choice of broad match, phrase match or exact match. Unlike when setting your target keywords, you cannot use modified broad match with negative keywords.
The least restrictive of match types, this will stop your ads being shown for queries that contain any of the words contained within your negative keyword. For example, if you added the negative keyword solicitor jobs your ad will not be shown for searches containing either solicitor or jobs.
A midpoint between broad and exact match, this will stop your ads being shown for queries that contain all the words contained within your negative keyword. Phrase match is unique as it requires the words to be in the same order but allows for other words to be placed before or after. For example, if you added the negative keyword timber supplies your ad will not be shown for cheap timber supplies but would be shown for timber building supplies.
The most restrictive of match types, this will stop your ads being show for queries that precisely match your negative keyword. For example, if you added the negative keyword cheap handbags your ad will not be shown for cheap handbags but would still be shown for black cheap handbags.
- Negative keywords are key to minimising wastage and maximising the performance of your Google Search and Shopping campaigns.
- Use the Search Terms Report in Google Ads to identify keywords that gain clicks but do fail to convert.
- Negative keywords can be introduced to your entire account as well as individual campaigns and ad groups.
- Ensure you use the right match type to control the broadness of your negative keywords and increase their effectiveness.
For more help maximising the performance of your Pay Per Click Advertising, browse our full range of PPC tips. Alternatively, request a callback from our Digital Strategists for one-to-one support today.