Improve Google Ads Campaigns using Negative Keywords

man with google ads logo

We show you best practices for creating negative keyword lists on Google Ads

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are specific words or phrases that prevent your ads from being shown to anyone searching for that keyword or phrase.

PPC marketers identify these phrases after carefully analyzing those campaigns which keywords are generating clicks and, thus, leads or revenue.

Consider the following search: “free wedding service”. If your services are not free, and your business is appearing as an ad, maybe that phrase should be included in the negative keyword list. You’re probably not interested in contacts who want free wedding services, are you?

Negative Keyword Match Types

There are three options: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.


A negative broad match lets you exclude your ad for searches where every word, in any order, in a keyword phrase appears in the search. This means that your ad won’t show when the entire term is used in a search, but it might show if the search only contains one or a few of your keyword terms. This match type is Google’s default for PPC search campaigns unless otherwise specified.

Example of searching “yellow carpet” (in google yellow carpet) as a broad-matched negative keyword:

SearchWill the ad appear?
google yellow carpet
dark yellow carpet
yellow carpetX
carpet yellowX


A negative phrase match keyword allows you to exclude your ad for searches that include the exact keyword phrase, with the words in the same order. The search may include additional words and the ad will not show as long as all keywords are included in the search in the same order. However, if someone searches for just one or a few of the terms in the negative keyword phrase, your ad may still show.

Example of searching “yellow carpet” (in google “yellow carpet”) as a negative phrase match:

SearchWill the ad appear?
google yellow carpet
dark yellow carpetX
yellow carpetX
carpet yellowX


An exact match negative keyword is almost self-explanatory: it allows you to exclude your ad for exact keyword phrase searches, in the same order, with no additional words. If the search has extra words or all keywords are in a different order, your ad may still show. This type of correspondence will eliminate minimum traffic because it is very specific.


Example of searching “yellow carpet” (in google [yellow carpet]) as an exact negative match:

SearchWill the ad appear?
google yellow carpet
dark yellow carpet
yellow carpetX
carpet yellow

Identifying negative keywords

It’s easy! You should check the KPIs such as clicks, leads, ROI, etc … and take the following points into consideration:

  1. There will always be low-quality clicks, fewer leads, and wasted money. The important thing is to rectify throughout the life of your campaigns. Therefore…
  2. You should reduce unnecessary spending on certain keywords, avoid cross-campaign keyword matches and start using negative keywords. The process is quite simple, just go to Keywords > Negative keywords and click the blue plus button!
  3. Anything that does not indicate user interest is irrelevant and useless.
  4. If keywords are irrelevant and useless, they should qualify as negative keywords.

But if you don’t declare your keywords as negative, Google will show your ads for those searches, and we all know Google loves to spend your money.


Do you know what are the main metrics you should measure? We recommend reading our article Marketing Reporting: what metrics you should ask your agency

Advantages of adding negative keywords

Improve click-through rate (CTR)

Ensure your ads don’t show up on irrelevant queries: This means exposing your account to fewer disinterested impressions, resulting in a higher percentage of people clicking on your ad.

Create more relevant ad groups

By eliminating keywords that are not related to your business, you increase the relevance of your ad groups. Small, closely related ad groups allow you to create a single message that speaks to the entire keyword group.

Save money

When you avoid paying for useless clicks, you’re saving money! Eliminate searches that are not suitable for your company. You can also avoid bidding against yourself by cannibalizing impressions and diluting data at the keyword level.

Increase your conversion rate

Negative keywords will ensure that your ads don’t show for specific terms that you know won’t convert, such as names of competitors or those that convey a complete lack of commercial intent.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is 100% free. You don’t need to spend any money on AdWords ads to gain access. All you need is a Google account.

This tool offers two options to get started, which are:

  • Discover new keywords: get keyword ideas that can help you reach people interested in your product or service;
  • Get search volume and predictions: check search volume and other historical metrics for your keywords, as well as predictions of how they might perform in the future.

Both options are from the Keyword Plan, but what you see may vary slightly depending on your choices. They are not two separate stand-alone tools.

Make the most of your advertising budget

With PPC ads, targeted keywords are only part of the equation – negative keywords also have a significant impact on your ad campaigns. While ad platforms like Google and Bing do a great job at filtering your audience, identifying specific searches can help you even more.

Create a negative keyword list today to improve the relevance of your ads. Is it too complicated? You can always talk to us, and we’ll do our best to help you sell more!