Google ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google. The platform is structured in a bidding format in which advertisers bid to display their brand, products, or services. There are several different campaign types that can be run on this platform including display ads, video ads, pay per click ads and more. Pay per click ads will be what we specifically discuss today as they are triggered by specific search terms called keywords. Keywords are the terms that are typed into Google by people seeking out information, products, or services. Bidding on certain keywords give you the opportunity to display your advertisement in front of an individual actively seeking out your products or services. Keywords are a crucial aspect of your campaigns but equally as important are negative keywords. 

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are search terms and/or phrases that you specifically do not want to trigger your ad. Neglecting to choose a solid set of negative keywords for your campaign and adding to that list over time is a sure way to waste budget. If your ad continues to show up for irrelevant searches, you will get wasted clicks and steal opportunities from valid search terms that could have turned into conversions. Also, depending on the products and services you offer, certain negative keywords could prevent your ad from showing up in brand damaging places. Let’s take a look at a few examples. 

Negative Keyword Examples

1.Let’s say you are a commercial painting company and have opened up your match types on some of your keywords such as +Professional +Painters. While this search term is likely to get you some valid traffic, it would also allow your ad to show up for searches such as “professional face painters which is very obvious to you not a click you want to get. But to Google, it met all of your keyword requirements which was to display your ad when both the word “professional” and “Painters” is present in a search query. This could lead to a lot of wasted impressions and clicks.


2. If you are a used car dealership you are likely bidding on some search terms such as “Used Ford Truck” or something along those lines. Say you do not have any negative keywords built out for your campaign. Utilizing this phrase match keyword will put your ad eligible to show up for the following searches:

  • Used ford truck scam
  • Used ford truck lemons
  • Flooded used ford truck

Showing up for any one of these search terms could be detrimental to your overall brand. A simple fix would be to add the terms scam, lemons, and flooded as negative keywords on this campaign. 

Negative Keyword Match Types

If you are unsure what a match type is or why they are so important, check out our post that breaks down exactly this: “Keyword Match Types & Why They Matter”. While match types are important for keywords, they are just as important for your negative keywords. For example, if you are the commercial painter mentioned in our example above and decided to add professional face painters as your negative keyword instead of just the word “face” or exact match [professional face painters], you ads would no longer show up with any search query related to or including the word painters. This would likely exclude the majority of your keywords and drastically drop your impressions. Be sure to take match type into consideration when building out your negative keyword list.

How to find negative keywords

Once your campaign has been up and running for a few weeks, you can view the Search Terms that are triggering your ads under the keyword section of your ads account. Sorting through this list allows you to see any search terms that triggered an ad that you maybe wouldn’t want to and you can begin to build out a negative keyword list this way. Seeing search terms you don’t want to display your ad will lead to other ideas to add to your list. This is a method that should be done ongoing even after your keyword list has been built out. At Klout 9, we take a more proactive approach and have developed a starter list for all new campaigns. This negative keyword list includes search terms such as free, diy, scam, etc. and is uploaded to all campaigns prior to launch. 

Negative keywords are one of the many elements of your campaign that can save a lot of budget when utilized properly. If you are unsure where to start or would like us to do a free account audit for you, do not hesitate to contact Klout 9 today.