Understanding AdWords Negative Keywords, their Types & How to Use Them

Understanding AdWords Negative Keywords, their Types & How to Use Them

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The main aim of starting a PPC Campaign – just like any other marketing initiative – is to reach as many interested customers as possible. But, it is not just about the lead generation; it is also about generating clicks and making sure that the maximum portion of these received clicks is actually converting! And, this is only possible if we are using the keywords that the user is searching to find the products we are offering. If somehow the search trend has changed, or you are using a broad search query, it is totally possible that you might get the clicks but there is no surety that they would result in conversions. For instance, you sell shoes for all age groups, and your ad is also showings for the search query “shoes for children’s orthotics”. Since the ad is showing it is possible that you might get a click, but most probably there will be no conversion as you don’t have anything for that special case. So such a click will be considered wasted.

This is why such keywords which eat up your spend and contribute almost nothing to the conversion rate should be put under negative keywords. By doing this, you instruct AdWords not to show your ads for a selection of keywords that are not relevant to your ad campaign.

Therefore, Negative Keyword in AdWords is a keyword targeting option through which you can select who can see your ad and who can’t as per the search queries conducted by the users. It helps you save money by helping you dodge unwanted clicks and allow you to target only relevant queries or keywords.


How to List Negative Keywords in AdWords?

Google suggests a lot of keywords which are related to the keywords you are using, and for which your ads are showing. It is possible that all of the related keywords might not be related to your product, it is important to weed out irrelevant search queries. This is the reason that Google AdWords gives the option of negative keywords, and while inputting the keywords which you want to target, at the same time you can add those variants of keywords which you don’t want to bid on. This way you can save your budget from unwanted clicks.

Negative Keywords can be added at the Campaign creation time – for the keywords added at this phase, AdWords will make sure that no ads are shown for any of them. Or you can add Negative Keywords during Ad Groups creation time – in this case, the listed keywords will only be taken as negative for that particular ad group, other ad groups’ ads might show for the keywords. While listing keywords, these things come handy:

  • Use of [brackets] means the keyword is an exact match
  • A keyword in “quotations” means that a keyword is a phrase match
  • A keyword with a plus + means is a modified broad match
  • If it is a standard broad match, no notation is used
  • -minus symbol before a keyword indicates a negative keyword


To identify the new negative keywords, make use of Google’s search query report – it is the best way to understand the queries that are showing your ads and through it, you can weed out the keywords that don’t make sense. Just use the Keyword tab of your AdWords account.

So, research well, make a list of the negative keywords and improve the performance of your Google account!!

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