Negative keywords: how they help your advertising campaigns

November 28, 2022

Negative keywords can help you increase the performance of your campaign in the long run and avoid wastage. What does this term mean and how do the keywords to be excluded work? We explain it to you!

What are negative keywords?

Surely you have heard about the so-called negative keywords or keywords to be excluded. These keywords are search terms for which your ads should NOT appear. Especially when optimizing SEA campaigns, the negative keywords are an important adjustment screw to avoid irrelevant clicks and non-targeted impressions and to adjust your campaign even better to your campaign goal. By reducing wastage, you in turn increase your quality factor and can keep your click prices low. There are many good reasons not only to focus on a good keyword setup, but also to use exclusionary keywords at campaign or ad group level.

Imagine you want to optimize your store for golf supplies, i.e. clubs, tees, golf clothing etc.. If you don’t use negative keywords, your ads on the topic of “golf accessories” will certainly also be played out for search queries that are less concerned with the sport and more with the popular VW Golf model. However, if you categorically exclude this topic at campaign level, you significantly reduce wastage, lower your average CPC, increase your quality factor and, at the end of the day, achieve significantly more conversions in your store.

In short: this is why you should use negative keywords

  • Negative keywords improve the relevance of your campaign
  • Negative keywords reduce wastage
  • Negative keywords increase your click and conversion rate
  • Negative keywords bring more relevant visitors to your store
  • Negative keywords optimize the use of your advertising budget
  • Negative keywords improve ROAS in the long term

Consider negative keywords already in the research

Of course, you can start your advertising campaign with a classic keyword setup first, and then after a few weeks look at the search terms for which your ads are delivered and define negative keywords on this basis – however, it makes much more sense to consider excluded search terms already during your keyword research. When creating your setup, simply ask yourself which products or services you do not want to advertise. If you come across these products and services during your research, you can immediately add them to your list of negative keywords.

In addition, depending on the topic, it can be useful to start a small Google search yourself and look at ads and organic search entries for certain keywords. This way you understand even more how potential customers search for your services or products and can refine your setup of negative keywords.  

How to achieve a positive effect for your campaign with negative keywords

So far so good – but if you want to make the negative keywords work for you in perfection, you should not stop reading yet! Because even with keywords to be excluded, you can use Google’s general keyword options “Broad Match”, “Phrase Match” and “Exact Match” to define the exclusion of search terms even more precisely.

  • Broad Match “keyword option
    First, let’s take a closer look at the “Broad Match” keyword option. This option allows you to prevent your ads from being delivered to irrelevant search ads that contain every word in any order of your keyword phrase. In this case, if your Broad Match negative keyword is “golf clubs”, your ads will not be delivered to your search query containing the word “golf clubs” under any circumstances, no matter if it is “golf clubs left-handed” or “golf clubs set”. Since these negative keywords can severely limit your reach, you should be careful when using them.
  • Keyword option “Phrase Match”
    If you don’t want to limit your reach that much, using the keyword option “Phrase Match” is a good alternative. Because with this you exclude the ads for search queries where your negative keyword is supplemented by some preceding or following words. For example, if your negative keyword is “golf club”, then your ad would not be delivered to search queries like “golf club near me”.  
  • Exact Match” keyword option
    The last keyword option available for negative keywords is “Exact Match”. This option prevents your ads from being displayed for queries that contain your keyword in its original form, without additional words or other variations. For example, if your keyword to be excluded is “golf socks colorful”, then your ad would never be delivered to this exact search query.

Our conclusion: researching negative keywords pays off!

Of course, adding negative keywords to your setup requires extra effort – but in the long run, your investment will pay off! Especially if you have a limited advertising budget, where every euro should be used optimally, negative keywords can help you to increase your ad quality, avoid wastage and lower your CPCs. Just give it a try and slowly approach the negative keywords with their different keyword options.