How to Navigate Negative Keywords List in Google Ads

You can keep your advertising from showing up in response to unrelated search terms by using a negative keyword list.

A negative keyword list is search phrases that generate undesirable impressions or clicks across campaigns. You can add negative keywords at the account, campaign, and ad group levels.

You can select between broad, phrase, or specific matches. Let’s dive into the basics of negative keywords and how to find and add them.

man in blue denim jacket facing turned on monitor

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that you’re employing pay-per-click advertising to promote kid dance classes. The modified broad match term “+dance +lessons” you’re bidding on is part of your geotargeting strategy.

People in your area looking for “adult dance lessons” on Google could see your ad. Your ad won’t appeal to this set of people. Thus, one of two things could go wrong:

  • They won’t bother to click on your ad, which will lower your CTR (CTR).
  • They’ll waste time and money on your ad before realizing your company doesn’t serve their needs.

You can stop both things from happening if you use the word “adult” as a minus sign in your search terms.

When a negative broad match term (such as “adult dance classes”) appears in a search query, your ad will not appear. The order of the words in the query is irrelevant.

When a negative exact match keyword (like “adult dancing classes”) is used in conjunction with a search query, your ad will not appear.

The Importance of Negative Keywords

Showing your ad to someone who isn’t interested in your offer will result in a wasted impression and money.

You already know that wasting clicks is terrible for business and that you want to maximize the number of clicks that result in sales.

Your ad’s CTR (Click-through rate) is the percentage of individuals who clicked on it after seeing it. The CTR of your ad increases when more users take action on those impressions and vice versa. As a result, your CTR will decrease whenever an audience member views your ad but decides not to click on it.

Formula for calculating CTR is as follows: CTR = (Clicks / Impressions) x 100

The anticipated CTR is a factor in calculating the Quality Score for the keyword associated with your ad. Quality Scores are lower when projected CTRs are low. When the Quality Score drops, the Ad Rank drops, and the CPC goes up (Cost per click).

Google will consider a reduction in CTR as a hint that your ad isn’t relevant if it keeps being matched to irrelevant searches. As a result, being seen in the paid search results will cost you more money.

How to Get and Add Negative Keywords List

One of the most important aspects of SEO is knowing how to make your website more discoverable. This can be done by structuring your keywords properly. 

There are many ways to do this, but one of the most important is understanding how to use negative keyword keywords.

By completing a negative keyword list, you can strike out any keyword phrases not favorable to your website’s goals. Let’s find out how!

How to Find Negative Keywords Using Google Ads

To begin, launch Google Ads and navigate to the Keywords section on the left side of the interface.

  • negative-keywords-google-ads-search-terms-tab

Here, you will find a report detailing the queries that led people to your advertising. There are three distinct columns:

  • Search term: these are queries triggering your ads
  • Match type: refers to queries matched to a broad, phrase, or exact match keyword
  • Added/excluded: Checks if each query has been added as a keyword or a negative keyword

Reactive Method

  • Be on the lookout for irrelevant questions as you sort through the results.
  • Check the box to the left of the query
  • Then click Add as Negative Keyword from the pop-up menu to eliminate these costly terms from your search.

Proactive Method

The good news is that there is a considerably more scientific approach to including negative phrases.

You can use the CTR, CVR, and CPA as filters on your search terms report (CPA). This will show you which search terms are producing poor results for your company, suggesting you include them as negative keywords.

Return to the Search Terms report and use the filtering wizard by clicking the funnel icon. At this point, you can choose which metrics you want to use as a filter.

Proactively negating unnecessary searches before they start costing money is the most economical strategy to minimize lost ad spending.

Creating a “negative keywords list” will help you achieve this goal. Such lists, as you might expect, are comprised of negatives based on unrelated search queries that may otherwise match your keywords.

Let’s go back to our made-up story about an adult dance studio. “Dancing classes for adults,” “all ages dance studio,” and “veteran couple dance lessons” could lead customers to your site. Why not add these terms as negative keywords ahead of time to stop that wasteful spending?

  • Select Negative keyword lists from the Shared Library menu by clicking the Tool icon in the upper-right corner of the Google Ads interface.
  • Visit the campaign you’d like to add it to once you’re done creating it.
  • Follow that by going to the interfaces labeled “Keywords” and “Negative Keywords.”
  • Select the correct option from the Use negative keyword list bubble, and you’re all set!

To Wrap Up

Negative keywords can be an obstacle for Google Ads, but you shouldn’t fear them. If you select the right negative and positive keywords for your campaign, you’ll spend less on irrelevant clicks.

Negating your campaign with appropriate keywords will lead to lower ad costs, higher ranking, and overall better success with your advertising campaign.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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