Negative Keywords Tutorial: Learn How to Add Negative Keywords in AdWords


What are Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are an exclusionary keyword targeting option that keeps an ad from showing for specific searches. There are two types of negative keywords, phrase match and exact match negatives. Phrase match is denoted by “ “ and exact match by [ ].

Phrase Match Negative Keywords

A phrase match negative keyword is the default option when adding a negative keyword to a campaign. Simply type in the keyword and add it to the negative keywords list. A phrase match level negative keyword will negate the exact version of that keyword as well as keywords that contain that phrasing with content before or after it. For example, if the negative keyword is “red flowers” it will stop an ad from showing when a searcher types in “red flowers” as well as “cheap red flowers” and “red flowers for sale”.

Exact Match Negative Keywords

To control the searches that an ad will not show for further the advertiser can use exact match negative keywords. An exact match negative keyword will only stop an ad from showing when that exact term is used by the searcher. Using the same example as above, the negative keyword [red flowers] then when a user types in “red flowers” the ad will not show. However, the ad will show for the search “cheap red flowers” and “red flowers for sale” as these are not exactly the negative keyword added in the account.

Core Negative Keywords

Another term to know is core negative keywords. As the name suggests, core refers to the central or most important word the advertiser does not want to show an ad for. For example, a plumber  wishes to advertise to those seeking his services, not for those seeking jobs as plumbers. Thus a core negative keyword would be “job” or “jobs”.

How to Add Negative Keywords

Watch the 60-second step-by-step video on how to set up a shared budget within AdWords.

Best Practices for Adding Negative Keywords

Tip #1

Use exact match negative keywords when a specific term is costing a lot of money and producing poor results. Also, consider using exact match negative keywords when you want to exclude specific instances of an irrelevant search. An advertiser may wish to negate the search [free work], but may wish to advertise on the team [free consultation]. Negating the term “free” entirely from the account will remove both the intended first term above, but incidentally stop the second term from showing as well.

Tip #2

Add core negative keywords to remove searches that would likely not be relevant for an advertiser’s goals such as those performing a job search or seeking a version of your product or service for free.

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