As an advertiser, you want your ads to reach your target audience. You determine the most profitable keywords and create relevant ad groups, but you still have a lot of non-converted clicks.

These clicks increase the volume of low-quality traffic and decrease the ROI of your PPC advertising. Of course, you want to save your budget and don’t want to pay for clicks that never deliver a return. Stop wasting ad budget: use negative keywords!

What are negative keywords and why are they important?

«A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase. This is also known as a negative match.» ​​​Google

Negative keywords help to prevent your ads from appearing to people who are not interested in your product. Together with keywords, they are involved in the semantic kernel creation — both go hand in hand. Strong results performance is unlikely if you’re focusing solely on keywords.

How negative keywords can improve your campaign performance?

Many hours of hard work and time will be saved by getting rid of irrelevant impressions with the help of negatives. Of course, one irrelevant impression is not a big problem but if you have a lot of ad campaigns with their own set of keywords it is better to go into this question. The more you are into this issue, the better results you get.

Below is the list of scores and parameters which are improved with negative keywords:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)

«Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement.» Wiki

Negative keywords prevent irrelevant queries, which means the percentage of interested people who will click on your ad will be higher. As a result of this, your CTR will increase due to fewer customers viewing your ads without clicking.

  • Ad relevance

«Ad relevance measures how closely related your keyword is to your ads.» Google

In other words, ad relevance describes how well your keyword matches the text from your ad. Your ad should be relevant to the search query which triggered it. Set words that aren’t related to your offer as negative keywords, for the solidity of your ad and search queries.

  • Quality Score

The more relevant your ads, the higher CTR and Quality Score. Learn more about Quality Score in our article.

  • CPC (cost-per-click)

Quality Score, in turn, affects your ad position and CPC. The higher the Quality Score, the lower CPC.

  • Conversion rate

When you exclude certain words as irrelevant, you attract only target customers, boosting the possibility of turning a visitor into a paying client.

  • ROI

As we have said at the beginning of this article, non-converted clicks increase the volume of low-quality traffic and decrease the ROI of your PPC advertising.

Ways to find the right keywords

Finding the right negatives can be a very time-consuming process. To facilitate it, you can use different tools and tricks. In this article, we are going to describe some of them.

If you are looking for a useful tool which can help you to know how closely search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to your actual keywords — Google’s search term report is the best decision for you. It’s a really convenient way to find negatives.

Search terms listed in your report caused your ad to be shown and clicked. Depending on your keyword matching options, the search terms listed might be different than your keyword list.

«Use the search terms report to identify new search terms with high potential, and add them to your keyword list. Look for search terms that aren't as relevant to your business, and add them as negative keywords. This can help you avoid spending money showing your ad to people who aren't interested in it.» Google

  • Manual searching

This way is not new and it's not as efficient. Create a list of keywords that you consider to advertise and start searching for them on Google. You will see a lot of results that aren't related to your product. Use them as negative keywords.

  • Google’s suggestions

Don’t forget about Google’s suggestions in your search for negatives. Use your keywords in the search engine and Google’s suggestions will appear. You might be surprised how many irrelevant results trigger your ads.
Note that any modification of your search query will change the auto-fill suggestions.

  • Adwords Keyword Planner

The most obvious choice is Google’s free Keyword Planner. This free tool is very user-friendly and easy to use.

Sign in to your Google Ads account and click the tools icon in the upper right corner. In the tools menu, find the Planning section, then select Keyword Planner under it. Enter words, phrases, or a URL related to your business, then click Get results.

Keyword Planner gives the opportunity to create ad groups (not only with selected keywords) and lets you use suggested words and phrases as negatives.

This tool is also convenient to use. Type a keyword phrase, get a list of search terms, select those which you suggest irrelevant, then add them to your list with negatives.

Negative keyword match types

Negative keywords also have match types. Negative keyword match types allow you to control how accurately the search query should match your ad. There are three match type options: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.

Exact match and phrase match keywords work just like their regular keyword counterparts. Keyword matching is explained in more depth here. If you use an exact match negative, the search query must be the exact same as your negative keyword for your ad not to be displayed. A negative phrase match allows you to exclude your ad for searches that include the exact keyword phrase, with the words in the same order.

Broad match is a default option that stops your ad from triggering if all the negatives are searched, regardless of order. However, broad match negatives are different than broad match keywords. They do not match to misspellings, plurals, or similar words.

Main points

  • While adding negatives don’t forget to check them for relevance and ensure they don’t play an important role, otherwise, you might lose important search terms.

  • Use Google’s search term report to identify new negative keywords. It’s the most effective way to see what real searches are triggering your ads.

  • Use third-party tools and tricks and select the one that fits your needs best.

  • You can add negative keywords at campaign level and adgroup level:

If you set them at the campaign level, it means that you don’t want your ads from this campaign to be shown with these selected keywords.

If you set them at the adgroup level, it means that you don’t want any of your ads from the particular ad group to be shown with the selected keywords.

  • Don’t forget to use negative keyword match types.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things we should think about every day! If we talk about ad campaigns we spend a huge amount of time managing, planning, uploading, etc. But the Quality Score, for example, may be not so high as should be. All problems can not be solved but some of them (low Quality Score, high CPC, low conversion rate, etc.) might be resolved with the use of negative keywords.

Sometimes we forget about negatives and underestimate their value. We should stop considering them only as a blacklist because they are an essential part or campaign optimization, they play a huge role not only in your ad campaign but also in your ad strategy.

You may ask — is it worth it? You never know until you try.

Marketing Specialist