Using Negative Keywords in Google Adwords

By October 3, 2012 PPC No Comments

 By Tracy Mu Sung – Director at MooMu Media

Negative Keywords are those keywords for which you don’t want your ads to appear, and they only need to be used if you have kw matches in your campaign which are phrase or broad match.


If all your keywords are exact (unlikely), they won’t show for anything other than those exact KW. If, however you start to broaden your campaign and introduce phrase and broad match keywords, don’t forget to introduce negative KWs at the same time.


Examples of negative keywords for an online retailer might be; free, replica, repairs, fake, etc.


Note that if your negative keyword is broad, and has more than one word – e.g. free trial – your ad could still show up for searches including either the word free, or trial, but not both. If you didn’t want your ad to show for

  • Free
  • Free trial
  • Trial

You would have to add all three as negative keywords.


Match Types for Negative KW

“Negative” is often considered a match type for a kw, but actually, your negative keyword itself can be broad, phrase or exact (with the same definitions). So you can use the match types to define your negative keywords further.

If you have only the exact word [free] as a match type, then your ad might still show for the search query, ‘free books’

So think carefully about your match types.


Negative Kw Lists

Google’s “Negative Keyword lists” make it easier to manage your negative keywords across all campaigns.

If you add a new negative kw to a list, it will update to any campaign which uses that list. Similarly for removing negative kw.

To find your lists, go to ‘Shared Library’ in the left hand navigation, then choose, Campaign negative keywords.

How To Use Negative KW in Adwords

Within the Shared Library you can add keywords to a list, or add a list to a campaign.

You can also see these lists at the very bottom of the keywords tab at both the adgroup level and the campaign level. Simply, scroll to the bottom of the Keyword tab, then expand the ‘negative keywords’ link.


If you are going to share lists across campaigns, it’s usually a good practice to double check the kw list and make sure it isn’t including inappropriate negatives for any of the campaigns.


You can also find negative keywords in your Adwords Editor – by toggling the positives/negatives button as below – however, the Editor does not currently allow you to view keyword lists.

Negative KW in Adwords Editor






Which Negative Keywords to Use?

New Campaigns/Adgroups/Products/Keywords

When doing KW research for a new product, brand or campaign, note the keywords you find which are inappropriate and might trigger your ads, then add them to your negative KW list.


Terms being used

You will also want to look at the ‘See search terms’ report to see other kw which you should add as negatives. Remember to Keep Monitoring the searched terms ongoing.


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