How can you make more money using Google Ads negative
keywords and negative keyword lists? Here are three simple
ways to reduce waste, lower cost-per-conversion (CPC), and
increase ad spend efficiency:
Apply a filter to show you which of your keywords generate
zero (0) conversions. You might want to stop paying for
Identify the keywords you are paying for that do not lead
to your products. Use a negative keyword list to eliminate
Analyze your targeted keywords for search intent.
Eliminate keywords with search intent that will not lead
to conversions and profits.
If you do these three things, you’ll be miles ahead of your
Now, if we have your attention, let us help you discover how
powerful negative keywords are for your Google Ads budget.
What are negative keywords in PPC?
Negative keywords are words and phrases you apply to a
campaign to prevent buying ads for search queries using those
negative keywords. Negative keywords are important because
they help your business target ads far more efficiently.
example of a great negative keyword list comes straight
For example, let's say that you're an optometrist who sells
glasses. In this case, you may want to add negative keywords
for search terms like “wine glasses” and "drinking glasses".
Negative keywords won't match to close variants or other
This example would produce a negative keyword list like this:
- Wine glasses
- Drinking glasses
- Beer glasses
Google would not show your ads to people using those search
terms, thus saving you money.
Why use negative keywords?
The most obvious reason is it will save money in your
advertising budget. Our rule for Google Ads spend is simple:
Don’t waste money on ads that will never convert.
You waste every dollar you spend showing ads to people who
will never buy your product or call your business.
There are a few additional benefits:
Your ad shown to a more relevant search query has a higher
click-through rate (CTR).
An ad with a higher CTR has a better quality score, and
thus a lower CPC.
‘Better’ clicks on more relevant search queries leads to
higher conversion rates on your landing pages.
A negative keywords list is one of the simplest ways to target
keywords that will bring better results on ads across the
Search Network. We think you should immediately (like, right
now!) use this information to assess your Google Ads
campaigns. All your ad groups should have negative keyword
How do I make a negative list for keywords?
Before we tell you all the ways to find the best negative
keywords, we think you should know how to create negative
keyword lists and save them to your Google Ads account. You
can create negative keyword lists for each ad group and
campaign you run and create generic lists that are saved to
your Google Ads account.
Let’s cover both methods.
How to Add Negative Keywords to an Ad Campaign or Ad Group
Google is the most authoritative source for Google Ads, so we
want to show you what Google says. You can
Google’s full article about negative keywords
if you have more questions.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- Click Keywords from the page menu on the left.
- Click Negative keywords.
- Click the plus button.
From here, you can add and apply new keywords to ad groups and
How to Create a Negative Keyword List in Your Google Ads
- Select Add negative keywords or create new list.
Choose whether to add negative keywords to a campaign or an
ad group, then select the specific campaign or ad group.
Add your keywords (one per line). Make sure that your
negative keywords don't overlap with your regular keywords,
because this will cause your ad not to show.
Note: If you’re adding negative keywords to a search
campaign, you can choose a match type by using the
appropriate symbols. For Display and Video campaigns, all
negative keywords will be added as exact match, and you
won't be able to change the match type.
If you’re adding your negative keywords to a campaign, you
have the option to save the keywords to a new or existing
negative keyword list and apply that list to the campaign.
Tick Save to new or existing list, then enter a name for
your new list, or select an existing list.
- Click Save.
Now, you should have a negative keyword list you can apply to
ad campaigns and ad groups. We recommend you create multiple
negative keyword lists in spreadsheets so you can track what
has been successful.
What makes a bad keyword?
Which search terms will never produce profits for your
company? You can add every one of these to your negative
keyword list for an ad group. How can you spot these bad
keywords? Here are a couple of simple things to do first.
General Word Types to Add to a Negative Keywords List
Words related to specific search queries that will only yield
information should automatically go on your negative keywords
list. Here are some examples:
- Who, What, When, Where, How, Why
News-related search terms such as news, died, happen, today,
Industry words and jargon that won’t lead to conversions
We have written some great articles about industry-specific
keyword lists. If you’d like a head start on your next
negative keyword list, just check out the list for your
Search Terms That Don’t Differentiate Products
You should add keywords that are too general to your negative
keywords list. A simple example is a men’s clothing store
advertising its jeans. They should consider adding “women” and
“women's” to their negative keyword list to avoid people
shopping for clothing they don’t sell.
How Do I Find Negative Keywords?
By now we believe you understand why you should have a
negative keyword list and how it will affect your Google Ads
efficiency. Let’s discover two of the most critical ways you
can unearth more terms to add to your Google Ads negative
You can find more negative keyword terms using Google’s
Keywords Planner. In the same way you search for the keywords
to target, you can search for related keywords to use as
When you search for a keyword, you also see a list of
related keywords. This is a valuable list of search terms
you can add to your negative keywords list.
Imagine you are selling ski boots. Keywords related to the
search query include branded phrases like “salomon ski boots”
and “dalbello ski boots.” If you don’t sell those brands,
exclude those terms.
Most keyword tools will work the same way. Ahrefs’ keyword
tool will reveal related keywords you can add to a negative
keywords list. SEMRush and similar tools will all perform
How to Use Google’s Search Terms Report to Identify a Negative
The Google Search Terms Report is the definitive source for
information about which search queries triggered your ads.
From the Search terms Report, you can see every search query
that triggered an ad across your ad group and use this
information to create hyper-targeted campaigns that bring
The basic step for getting the most out of your Search Terms
Report is to use filters. Filters will show you the terms you
should exclude because they don’t create a profit for you.
We’re going to help you discover the most effective way to use
Every Ad Group Must Have a Zero Conversions Filter
Go to the keyword tab and click “Filter.” Then, add a filter
to show you every keyword with zero conversions. If your
account hasn’t been managed correctly, the results may be
Add any search results on this filter to your negative
keywords list immediately. Every single one is draining your
budget and producing zero results. You should also check your
landing pages to make sure your ads aren’t being let down by
poorly performing landing pages.
Once you see these results, use the Google Ads Automated Rules
system to send you a message when a campaign triggers your
zero conversions filter.
Okay, we think there might be times when you see results on
your zero conversions filter but need to keep the keyword. In
this case, go back and look at your ad and your landing page.
Why isn’t it producing any conversions? Don’t just keep paying
for an ad that doesn’t work.
All Google Ads Campaigns Need a CPA Filter and Rule
Cost Per Action (CPA) is a crucial measure of success for your
ads. Here are two basic targets:
Every eCommerce store should aim for a minimum of 4x ROI.
This means your revenue should be $100 for every $25 of ad
spend. Your conversion rate and revenue from your ad should
hit this target.
Every lead generation ad should try to achieve an $8 CPA.
Every $8 of advertising budget spend should generate one
Once you identify the search terms that don’t meet these
targets, add them to your negative keyword list.
We use N-Gram analysis to analyze our keywords at a large
scale. This helps identify key trends and data for better
choices. If you’ve got multiple hundreds or thousands of
keywords and data points, you should give it a try.
An N-gram is a fixed-length neighboring sequence of n items in
a text or speech. So, n is the number of terms in a phrase.
Here’s a quick example:
We want to optimise keywords around our hiking boots
campaigns. Our long-tail keyword is hiking boots for women. An
n-gram of 2 for this term would produce these results:
- Hiking boots
- Boots for
- For women
The benefit of breaking terms down like this is how it
allows you to analyze which words in a search term or group
of terms is really driving conversions.
Check out the article from WPromote on
to get even more info.
How to Use Negative Keywords with Match Types
We’ve said a lot about how to find negative keywords and add
them to a negative keyword list. Now, we want to help you put
them into action as effectively as possible.
Let’s talk about the different negative keyword match types
you’ll be using.
Negative Broad Match
A broad-match negative keyword excludes your ad for search
queries where every word of your keyword phrase appears in any
Using a negative broad match phrase allows you to target your
ads more effectively by eliminating ads shown for the wrong
products. For example, if you run an online store that
specialized in smart, dress shoes for men, you could use
“running shoes” as a negative broad match to prevent most
search results triggering one of your ads.
Negative broad match keyword: running shoes
Negative Phrase Match
Exclude your ad from showing for search queries that include
the exact keyword phrase with a negative phrase match type.
Any search that uses the entire negative phrase match keyword
in its exact order. Negative phrase match doesn’t stop
searches that use only one word or extra words. Tracking your
search terms from the Search Terms Report will help you refine
your negative phrase match keywords.
Negative broad match keyword: “running shoes”
Negative Exact Match
The negative exact match type is not the most useful because
it only triggers when the negative exact match keywords are
used in their exact order and with no extra words. In our
experience, this keyword match type excludes very few search
Negative broad match keyword: [running shoes]
Apply Negative Keyword Lists at Multiple Levels
Advertisers run multiple ad campaigns with many ads within
specific ad groups. All the information we’ve given you about
negative keywords should be applied across all your ad
Campaign Level Negative Keyword Lists
You will probably use the same negative keywords over and over
for the same company. Keep clear lists of your negative
keywords so they can be applied at the campaign level.
Managing your negative keyword lists will save you time and
Group Level Negative Keyword Lists
At the group level, more negative keywords can be added to
eliminate more specific searches. Branded searches are best
eliminated at the group level, for example. Again, it is wise
to keep a list, or several lists, of negative keywords you can
apply at the group level to maximize your ad results.
Negative Keywords Drive Winning Results
Without a doubt, negative keywords make advertising much more
effective because they allow more specific targeting. Placing
your ads in front of the right customers at the right time is
the key to successful campaigns. Negative keywords will help
you achieve fantastic results.
If you read this and realized your advertising budget is being
wasted, get in touch. One of our experts will be happy to help
you evaluate your ad spend and efficiency.