Go to Top

Quick Guide to Negative Keywords

One of the advantages of advertising products and services online is that you could directly target your potential customers. You could better target your audience by optimizing your Google AdWords Account.

The process of adding negative keywords to a paid search account is an important part of the optimization process, as it allows you to eliminate search queries which are unlikely to convert into a sale. Moreover, it directs the traffic to the keywords inside the account that are performing better and are more relevant. Also, negative keywords direct traffic to cheaper keywords (the exact match is usually preferred). In this way, you avoid traffic cannibalization.


Get started: Understand what negative keywords are

“The negative keywords are type of keywords that prevent your ad from being triggered by a certain word or a phrase. It tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who is searching for that phrase” (definition by Google support)

There are three negative keyword match types:

  • Exact
  • Phrase
  • Broad

The exact negatives do not trigger the ad only when the search queries are absolutely identical to your negatives.

The phrase negative excludes your ads for search queries containing the negative phrase keyword in your specified order, with any pre- or suffixes, with any other words before or after, but with no other characters in between.

When using broad negatives you need to consider that they work as broad match modifier keywords. If used correctly, this can filter out a lot of different variations. For example, if your negative is video game, your ad will not appear for someone searching for game video or video game deals.However, this will not prevent ads from showing for variations of the word. That means that if you want to exclude both video game and video games (plural version) you need to add in both as negative keywords. Also, negative broad match will not restrict ads from showing if someone searches on only one of the words. So if someone searches for board game you will still appear, as the word game on its own is not a negative. In general, deltamethod does not recommend using broad negatives because of their unpredictable behaviour. On the other hand, we strongly suggest using negatives in phrase or exact match types.

The Google AdWords Blog has put together this chart as a quick reference of the search queries that would be ruled out depending on your negative match type.

Pic1 Blog2

When to use negative keywords

Negative keywords are often necessary for paid search campaigns that contain keywords on either broad match or phrase match. These match types will display your ad for additional search queries (i.e. search queries other than the actual keyword that was added to the account). Thus, removing irrelevant terms often becomes necessary.


Negative Keyword types in Campaign Suite

A Google AdWords account consists of three levels: account, campaign and ad group level. Negatives can be implemented on each account level. According to their goal, in our software, Campaign Suite, there are two types of negatives: Blocking and Structural Negatives

deltamethod’s Campaign Suite is a tool to automatize online marketing processes and to create campaigns which contain a big number of relevant keywords and for each of them highly relevant text ads and deeplinking. Request a demo here

Blocking Negatives stop traffic for some or all campaigns when there are undesired topics in the search queries. An advertiser of new products would implement second hand as negative, so whenever someone searches for second hand shoes all ads will be blocked. Blocking Negatives in Campaign Suite can be either Global Negatives or Specific Negatives.

Structural Negatives redirect traffic to the most relevant keyword. When we talk about Structural Negatives, we distinguish among Cross Negatives, Match Type Negatives, and Punk Negatives.

Cross Negatives – imagine you have only 2 campaigns “Shoes” and “Adidas” (there is no ad group shoes adidas or similar). “Adidas” campaign is much more profitable than “Shoes” one. The potential client is looking for: shoes adidas. By using Cross Negatives, we want to have full control of the traffic. Therefore, we will put the keywords of “Adidas” campaign as Cross Negatives to “Shoes” campaign. Only then the more profitable “Adidas” campaign will succeed and the less profitable “Shoes” campaign will not be eligible to show.


Match Type Negatives – when you have two ad groups using the same keyword (i.e. ‘green shoes’), with one set to exact, and the other set to broad – you will aim to direct the traffic to the exact keyword, because this is normally cheaper. So, you would set the keyword ‘green shoes’ as the exact negative for the ads in broad ad group. This means you’ll still get all the traffic you’d normally get to the broad matchtype, but, you’ll send those searching for ‘green shoes’ to the more specific ads using their keyword.

Punk Negatives – are used to direct traffic to more specific and (usually) cheaper ads. For example, you might have ads using the keyword ‘shoes’ and ads using the keyword ‘brown shoes’. So, for the ads using ‘shoes’, ‘brown shoes’ would be the punk negative, directing the traffic to the ads using the keyword ‘brown shoes’.


Implement Structural Negatives in no time

Instead of generating the negatives in Excel with time consuming long and tedious formulas, you could implement Cross Negatives, Match Type Negatives and Punk Negatives just by clicking a button in Campaign Suite.

Pic 2 Blog2

After their implementation, you may observe your KPIs skyrocket!


by Ana Prentovic

Leave a Reply