Negative Keywords In Google Ads: A Beginners Guide 2022

Social Media Marketing
Shaikh Nahian
5 min read

A balanced and thoroughly-researched digital marketing plan along with paid advertising in search engines can do wonders for your business- by improving brand awareness and generating conversions, increasing your revenue in the process.

Finding out the right keywords, ones that will make you the most profit is crucial to succeeding in paid search. You then make ad groups, ads, and landing pages based on said keywords, which is how you find potential customers who are searching for products you are offering.

This all seems pretty straightforward, right? But there is something that needs to be kept in mind. As advertisers in google ads or Microsoft campaigns have to pay for each click they get(PPC)-they end up paying a lot for nothing when searchers don't turn out to be customers. So it’s equally important to identify and eliminate keywords, and this is where the concept of Negative Keywords comes in.

In this article, we'll be discussing what negative keywords are, what benefits they have in paid search marketing and how to identify negative keywords and add those to your Google Ads account.

What are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are a method of preventing your ads from showing to people who search for or browse content related to those keywords. In Google Ads, you have to pay every time someone clicks on your ad, so you don’t want your ads appearing on poor-quality searches.

By poor-quality searches, we mean searches that are mostly queries and won't lead to conversions.

Say you're a car repairman. An example keyword for your business may be- "Car repair near me". When someone searches with this phrase, you want your ads to appear so that they can click on them and contact you.

But you wouldn't want your ads to appear when search phrases are like "Free car repair near me", as you don't work for free. Here, "Free" should be added as a negative keyword.

Just like the keywords you bid on, negative keywords can also be added to your google ads campaigns or ad groups, and they come in different match types:

Broad match

Broad match negative keywords lets you prevent ads showing for searches that include every word, in any order, of your keyword phrase. Your ads could, however, show for some of the words within the phrase.

For example, say your negative broad match keyword is ‘summer outfit’. Your ad may appear for searches including ‘holiday outfits’ or ‘party outfits’. But your ad won’t appear for searches similar to ‘Pretty summer outfits’, ‘outfit for summer’, or the actual phrase.

Phrase match

Phrase match negative keywords will stop your ad from showing to people searching for the exact keyword phrase with additional words included before or after the phrase.

Like the previous example, if your negative phrase match keyword is ‘summer outfit’, then you may appear for searches including ‘holiday outfits’, ‘party outfits’, or ‘outfit for summer’. But your ad won’t appear for searches similar to ‘Pretty summer outfits’, or the actual phrase ‘summer outfit’.

Exact match

Exact match negative keywords only prevents your ad in searches that have the keyword phrase as it is, without any change. Like in the previous example, if your negative phrase match keyword is ‘summer outfit’, any search phrase except it will show your ad in the results.

Benefits of Adding Negative Keywords on Google Ads

Now that we know what negative keywords are, let's look at some of the benefits you get from adding negative keywords in your paid search activities-

  • Saves your money
  • Increase conversion rate
  • Attract more relevant users to your site
  • Make your ad groups more relevant and targeted
  • Improve Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Increase ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)

Identifying Negative keywords

Identifying negative keywords is a vital step when optimizing your PPC efforts to save time and money. Negative keywords can be identified in a number of ways and here we are going to discuss some of them.

Identifying negative keywords in the keyword research stage

Conducting keyword research is an initial step in any search marketing activity. Keyword research helps you understand the language of your audience when they search for your company.

You analyze, compare and prioritize the best keywords opportunities you have available, and while analyzing the search terms you want to target; you can begin picking out terms to add to your negative keyword list as well.

Identifying negative keywords via manual search

Run a quick Google search for the top keywords that you are advertising on. This helps you spot any terms that you want to avoid. After spotting such terms, you can simply add them to your negative keywords list.

Identifying negative keywords using Google Ads Search Terms Report

Search term reports on Google Ads help users identify keywords that don't have the proper search intent. Head over to the Search Terms Report in your Google Ads account, pick a date range and download the results.

You can customize column sets to track specific performance, conversion, or attributes metrics. Once you are done analyzing, negative keyword terms can be added to your account. Search term reports need to be reviewed regularly.

Adding negative keywords to your Google Ads account

After you're done identifying negative keywords, it's time to add those keywords to your ad campaigns or ad groups.

To add negative keywords to your Google Ads account, head over to your account dashboard, under the ‘Keywords’ section on the left-hand panel you will see the ‘Negative Keywords’ section.

Select that, then click the blue ‘+’ button. Here you’ll be able to add the negative keywords to a list and choose to add them to either campaigns or ad groups.

You can view all the negative keywords added in the negative keywords table.

You can add different negative keywords lists to different campaigns/ad groups. A good practice is to also make a negative keywords list full of the most generic terms that can be added to all campaigns.

Also, remember to ensure match type accuracy(exact match/phrase math/broad match) while choosing negative keywords.


The process of identifying and adding negative keywords can be quite boring and tedious. But you can't optimize your PPC marketing efforts fully if you're bleeding money with clicks that don't convert.

So managing negative keywords effectively should be an essential part of your paid search efforts. Hopefully, this article helps you get started on negative keywords and use them to generate relevant traffic, qualified leads, and eventual sales.

If you’d rather use automation than spend time and resources to learn or hire a team of experts to take care of your digital marketing endeavors, then check out

Want to get wiser with your Ad spending? Check out our guide on Cost Per Mille (CPM).

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