If you’re running Google Search Ads campaigns, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of keywords – the words and phrases that you have selected to trigger your ads to show up in Google’s search results when someone is looking for what you offer. But there’s another type of keyword that’s just as important for optimising your campaign performance: negative keywords. Negative keywords are words or phrases that you specify in your Google Search Ads campaign to prevent your ads from showing up for search queries you do not wish to appear for, thus ensuring that you are only paying Google for your ads to appear when the search is relevant!
In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of negative keywords in Google Search Ads campaigns and provide step-by-step guidance on how to implement them in the Google Ads platform.
The Importance of Negative Keywords
Using negative keywords is important for several reasons:
- Preventing Irrelevant Traffic: Negative keywords help prevent your ads from showing up for irrelevant search queries. For example, if you sell high-end clothing, you might want to add negative keywords like “cheap” or “discount” from the very start of your campaign to prevent your ads from showing up for searches related to budget clothing. This ensures that your ads are only shown to users who are more likely to be interested in your products or services, which can increase your click-through rates and conversion rates. It’s important to note that you may not think of all of the irrelevant searches which could trigger your ad initially, so it is important to regularly monitor your Search Terms Report to identify them quickly once your campaign is live – more on that later.
- Reducing Costs: By preventing your ads from showing up for irrelevant search queries, negative keywords can also help reduce your advertising costs. This is because you won’t be paying for clicks from users who are unlikely to convert into customers. Trust us on this one – we have audited some Google Search campaigns that have wasted thousands through lack of negative keyword management.
- Improving Ad Relevance: By using negative keywords to target your ads more effectively, you can improve your ad relevance. Ad relevance is an important factor in determining your ad’s quality score, which in turn affects your ad’s position in search results and the cost per click you pay. By improving your ad relevance, you can improve your campaign’s performance overall.
- Increasing ROI: By reducing costs and improving conversion rates, negative keywords can ultimately help increase your campaign’s return on investment (ROI). This is because you’ll be spending your advertising budget more effectively, and generating more revenue from each ad click.
How to Implement Negative Keywords in Google Ads
From the outset of your campaigns, you may already know some keywords and phrases you really don’t want your ad appearing for. You will therefore wish to implement negative keywords within your initial campaign build – implementing negative keywords in Google Ads is very straight-forward. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by logging into your Google Ads account and selecting the campaign you want to add negative keywords to.
- Click on the “Keywords” tab on the vertical menu to the left of your screen, and then click on “Negative Keywords”.
- Here you will now see any negative keywords previously added on the main screen. Click the blue “plus” button to add a new negative keyword.
- Enter the word or phrase that you want to exclude from your campaign. As per the previous example, this may be words like “cheap” if you sell high-end products or certain locations where your services are not available.
- Select the match type for your negative keyword. The match type determines how closely the negative keyword needs to match the user’s search query in order to trigger your ad to be excluded. As a reminder, the match types are:
Broad Match: This match type will exclude your ad from any search query that contains the negative keyword, regardless of the order or context of the other words in the query.
Phrase Match: This match type will exclude your ad from any search query that contains the exact phrase you specify, but may include additional words before or after the phrase.
Exact Match: This match type will exclude your ad from any search query that contains the exact phrase you specify, with no additional words before or after the phrase.
- Click “Save” to add the negative keyword to your campaign. Note that you can choose to add the negative keyword to the whole campaign or a specific ad set.
How To Update Negative Keywords Using the Search Terms Report
It’s important to regularly review and update your negative keyword list to ensure that it’s up to date and effective, especially in the early stages of a campaign, and particularly if you are using broad match within your keyword targeting strategy. You can do this by reviewing your campaign’s Search Terms Report, which shows you the actual search terms that triggered your ads to show up, how many times a user proceeded to click etc. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by logging into your Google Ads account and selecting the campaign you want to review the Search Terms Report for.
- Click on the “Keywords” tab on the vertical menu to the left of your screen, and then click on “Search Terms”.
- Here you will now see a list of the searches that have triggered your ads to appear alongside metrics on impressions, interactions etc. We recommend clicking on “Interactions” to order this from most to least.
- Review each individual search term, identifying any you deem irrelevant to what you offer. Use the checkbox to the left to select them.
- Once finished, click “Add as negative keyword” on the blue bar which will have appeared.
- Select whether to add to the whole campaign or ad group, then select “Save”.
Negative keywords are an important part of any successful Google Search Ads campaign and are arguably the most important optimisation task you should be completing on a regular basis. By using negative keywords, you can prevent your ads from showing up for irrelevant search queries, reduce costs, improve ad relevance, and ultimately increase your campaign’s ROI. Implementing negative keywords in Google Ads is a simple process, and regularly reviewing and updating your negative keyword list can help ensure the effectiveness of your campaign. So if you’re not already using negative keywords in your Google Ads campaigns, get straight into that Search Terms Report and stop wasting that budget!