How to Choose the Right Negative Keywords for your Google Ads

How to Choose the Right Negative Keywords for your Google Ads

Google Ads can be quite a challenge at first glance. With all the different resources and information on the web, it can take time to find the right negative keywords. Today is your lucky day because today we will dive into what I believe is a good starting point for any Google Ads Campaign, which is none other than negative keywords.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative Keywords in Google Ads are a list of keywords you want to exclude from your ads. At first, you may wonder, “Why would you want to exclude keywords? Isn’t that how you rank on Google?” While that is technically correct, excluding keywords that don’t pertain to your product or service can prove invaluable in the long run. 

Negative keywords do not match type to “close variants” (Allows keywords to match that are similar but not identical to the keyword initially targeted.) An example of this would be “socks for mens” and “mens socks” are considered a close variation because they both contain words with the same meaning. Keep this in mind when creating keyword lists for negative keywords. You may have to add other variations to ensure a keyword is fully excluded regardless of word variation or word choice.

Learn More about Close Variations


What Does a Negative Keyword Look Like?

Negative Keywords are similar to common keywords used in Google Ads, with the only exception being they have a (-) at the beginning. Keyword match types include negative broad match, negative phrase match, and negative exact match. An example of each match type can be seen in the following.

Negative Broad Match 

  • -bass amp
  • Negative broad match keywords will exclude your ad if a search contains all of your keywords regardless of the word order. 
  • For example, if someone searches “amp bass” or “Carvin bass amp” then 

Negative Phrase Match 

  • -” bass guitar”

Negative Exact Match  

  • -[bass guitar amp]

The following is an example of how negative keywords are used in Google Ads.

Meet Niko, Niko is an Eastern European Entrepreneur looking to start an online business selling custom drum shells and drum equipment. He wants to sell his drum shells to people of all ages and styles.”

Since Niko is selling custom drum shells a good keyword to start would be “Custom Drum Shells”. Let’s say this is the main keyword we want to revolve around. An example of some negative keywords to select in this situation would be words like

-” guitar”   -[guitar]

-” microphone”   -[microphone]

-” mixing console”   -[mixing console]

These keywords are a good choice for the following reasons.

  • They lower the chances Nikos Ads will display when some searches for other musical instruments such as guitar amps, vocal microphones, 
  • They are specific to certain audiences who may not be interested in custom drum shells.
  • They ensure that Niko only targets people who are interested in drum equipment.

While these keywords are related to music equipment, they have no relation to the product Niko is intentionally trying to sell, which is custom drum shells and drum equipment. This allows Niko to narrow his audience and ensure that his ads aren’t being shown to people not interested in his products/services.

Negative Keywords Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb when creating a list of negative keywords is to do it individually rather than all at once. This means that picking a list of 5 keywords related to your industry but not your product would provide more benefit than throwing in a list of 500 irrelevant keywords at one time. 

This is important because it allows you to develop your keyword research strategy and gain helpful insight. Now like many rules, there are some exceptions to this one which we will get to later.

How to Spot a Negative Keyword

Spotting a negative keyword can be tough at times; however, it is good to keep it short and simple. For example, let’s go back to Niko’s Scenario. He is going through his list of Keywords, and he notices that one keyword that is generating impressions is “custom bass amps”, “bass cabs”, and “bass strings”. 

Niko sells drum equipment and has the word “bass” in some of his keywords, so excluding the word “bass” altogether would do more harm than good. Instead, excluding words like -amp, -cab, and -string would be more beneficial. That way, Niko can still use “Bass” in other keywords to help promote his business.

The Use of Symbols in Negative Keywords

Symbols such as asterisks (*), ampersands (&), and accent marks (á) can be used in your negative keywords. This is beneficial to you in many ways when using Google Ads. For example, If you have the words “Red & Blue” as a negative keyword and someone searches “Red and Blue” There is still a possibility that the ad will show up. So it is important to include symbol variations of your negative keywords to ensure that they don’t show up based on a slight variation in language.

Negative Keywords Overview

In short, negative keywords can be a valuable asset in any Google Ads Campaign. It is a good rule of thumb to keep your negative keywords to only 1-2 words per keyword. In addition to that it is also good to include both phrase match as well as exact match for each negative keyword you select. Utilizing symbols can also be useful, and keep an eye out for close variants to ensure all keywords are covered regardless of context or spelling. Following these best practices for negative keywords will allow you to make negative keyword lists like a pro.

Why The AD Leaf?

Since page content has become such a crucial factor in search rankings, writing the correct keywords page is a must, and understanding how important it is will help you grow your business. We specialize in this field and have the tools and expertise to help drive your business’s success by improving your search engine optimization. Learn more about what we offer your business, and contact us to plan and design an SEO strategy in Melbourne, FL.

About The Author

James Mills James Mills