What are negative keywords?

Louise Rohan avatar
Negative keywords

Negative keywords enable you to exclude certain search terms from your PPC campaigns and help to improve your audience targeting and return on investment. These are the keywords that you know you DON’T want your website to be found for in the search engines. While this sounds quite broad and confusing, it’s a great way to prevent your ads from showing up on searches that are similar or related to your business offering, but not quite the same.

For example, say you are a company that sells wine glasses and other types of drinking glasses. You might want to set terms such as ‘reading glasses’ as negative keywords so that your products don’t appear in those searches. This will mean less wasted ad budget, a well-targeted audience and an increase in click-throughs and conversions.

Benefits of negative keywords

By stopping your PPC campaigns from showing up for irrelevant search queries, you limit the number of uninterested impressions the ad receives. With more precise keyword targeting, the percentage of people who see your advert and then go on to click on it will be much higher.

With no negative keywords set up, someone searching for ‘reading glasses’ who sees your advert for wine glasses might click on it thinking that it’s the other type of ‘glasses’. This will mean wasted ad spend, as this person is highly unlikely to convert into a sale on your website. This is why it’s important to use negative keywords to ensure you are targeting the most relevant audience possible.

Once you have set up your negative keywords, you should see the quality of traffic clicking through to the site improving, and in turn the conversion rate should start to increase. So not only will using negative keywords enable you to decrease ad spend, it should also lead to an increase in conversions.

Types of negative keyword:

Negative broad match

When it comes to broad match, your ad won’t show if the search query includes all of the search keywords you have used in the broad match, even if they are applied in a different order in the search query.

Let’s say you’ve chosen the negative broad match keyword ‘running shoes’, your ad wouldn’t show up in a search for ‘red running shoes’ or ‘red shoes for running in’, but it would show up in a search for ‘red shoes’.

Negative broad match

Negative phrase match

For a negative phrase match, your ad won’t show up when the search query includes the exact keyword phrase in the exact same order that you’ve chosen. It will still show up in searches that have the keyword phrase in the correct order even if there are words before or after the phrase.

With a negative phrase match, if your keyword phrase is ‘running shoes’, your ad will be shown to someone searching for ‘red running shoes’ or ‘running shoes for women’, but not for someone who is searching for ‘best shoes for running’.

Negative phrase match

Negative exact match

Negative exact match keywords won’t display your ad for search queries that include the keyword phrase exactly as it is. If the words are in a different order from your chosen keyword phrase, or if there are words added before/after the keyword, your ad will still show up in the search results. If your keyword phrase is ‘hair curler’, and someone searches for ‘hair curler’, your ad won’t show up. If it is searched for in any other way, such as ‘best hair curler’ or ‘curler for short hair’, your ads may still be shown.

Exact match terms are great if you have a large budget, as you can ensure that your campaigns are only targeting the specific terms that convert best for your business. If you’re working with a smaller budget we recommend sticking with broad and phrase match negative keywords as these can help you to eliminate a broad range of irrelevant searches without breaking the bank.

Negative exact match

How to identify which negative keywords to use

Start by identifying search terms that are similar to your target keywords or contain similar words but are not relevant to your business. A simple way to do this is to go onto Google and type in your target keywords to see what appears.

Identify negative keywords

You can build a more comprehensive list of negative keywords by using Google’s search term report, which will show you all of the terms that people have searched for that have led to them being shown your ad. Use this report to identify any irrelevant searches that your ads are showing up for and add these to your negative keyword list.

If you would like to learn more about implementing negative keywords or anything else related to PPC advertising, we are here to help – get in touch!

Louise Rohan avatar

Share this article

Google Rating
Based on 41 reviews