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The Role of Negative Keywords in PPC: Improving Ad Relevance

Google homepage on a laptop on a wooden table in a garden

So, you've got traffic coming to your site, and that's awesome! But here's the deal—not all traffic is your dream audience, the kind that's ready to hit that 'convert' button. How do you sift through and make sure you're attracting the crowd that really matters?

That's where negative keywords come in – they help you fine-tune things so your ads are reaching the right crowd. It's all about making sure you're speaking the language of your potential customers!

Fortunately, platforms like Google provide you with the option to implement this strategy and we’re here to show you how.

Negative keywords are important when refining your pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaign by excluding specific terms from triggering your ads.

Let’s say you own a luxury travel agency specializing in exclusive destinations. In this case, you could utilize "budget" as a negative keyword to ensure that your advertisements don't show up for users seeking more economical travel packages.

Why Are Negative Keywords So Important?

The word 'Pixel' typed into Google search engine to find out trending keywords

Negative keywords are like a secret hack in making your online ads work smarter, not harder.

Here's why they're so beneficial:

Cost Savings: Negative keywords stop your ads from showing up for people who aren't into what you're offering. This means you're not spending money on clicks from people who aren't potential customers.

Get Clicks that Count: Using negative keywords ensures your ads pop up only for searches that really matter. That way, you connect with those genuinely interested in what you're selling, leading to more clicks that can turn into sales.

Boost Your Ad Game: The quality of your ads matters in the online world. Negative keywords help your ads align better with what people are searching for, giving you a leg up in the ad game and potentially landing your ads in better spots. It's like making sure your message is heard loud and clear!

What Are The Types Of Negative Keywords?

When setting up a PPC ad campaign, you've got choices like broad match, phrase match, or exact match keywords. But here's the catch: for airtight filtering of queries, you've got to think about synonyms, typos, and other little differences.

Negative Broad Match

When it comes to negative keywords, think of it like this: your go-to default is the "broad negative match." Choose this if you want your ad to steer clear of searches that include all of your chosen negative keywords. It's like putting up a barrier for specific phrases.

Here's the everyday breakdown: your ad won't show up for searches that have the exact phrase you've marked as a no-go. But, it might still pop up if the search only includes some of those keywords.

Let's say your negative broad match keyword is 'organic skincare.' In this case, your ad might still appear for searches like 'best organic skincare products' or 'natural skincare,' but it won't show up for searches like 'best organic skincare' (where the order matters), 'skincare organic,' or the exact phrase 'organic skincare.'

It's all about refining your ad to match what people are really looking for!

Negative Phrase Match

Think of negative phrase match keywords like the close-up filter for your ad. They're more particular than the broad ones. With this setting, your ad will only show up if someone's search has the exact terms in the exact order you've marked as a no-go.

For example: your negative phrase match keyword is 'cozy coffee shop.' Now, if someone searches for 'best cozy coffee shop,' your ad won't make an appearance. It's a no-show for searches like 'cozy coffee shop near me' or 'top-rated cozy coffee shop.' However, your ad might still show up for searches like 'best local cafes' or 'comfortable coffee spots.'

It's like setting the boundaries for when your ad should or shouldn't play the spotlight role!

Negative Exact Match

Negative exact match keywords are like the strict bouncers of your ad campaign. They're the pickiest because your ad will only show up in searches with the exact term you specify, in the same order, and without any extra words.

So let's say your negative exact match keyword is 'gourmet pizza.' In this scenario, your ad will only show up when someone types in 'gourmet pizza' in that exact manner. It won't appear for searches like 'best gourmet pizza places' or 'making gourmet pizza at home.'

Where To Slot In Your Negative Keywords?

Scrabble blocks that spell 'AdWords'

Your Google Ads setup is like a stack of three layers: the big account layer, the middle campaign layer, and the smaller ad group layer.

Now, when it comes to negative keywords (the ones you don't want triggering your ads), you can sprinkle them in at each of these layers.

Account Level: This is the top layer, applying negative keywords here affects all your campaigns. Rather than repeating the same negative keyword additions for each campaign, you can make these strategic decisions once at the account level, saving time and minimizing the risk of errors.

For instance, you can compile a list of terms deemed unfavorable for your brand and effortlessly apply it to all your campaigns, ensuring consistency.

Campaign Level: Positioned in the middle, at the campaign level, negative keywords have a universal impact on all ads within that specific campaign. If, for instance, you designate "cheap" as a campaign-level negative keyword, none of the ads in that particular campaign will surface for searches containing the term "cheap."

Ad Group Level: This level offers a more granular approach. Ad group level negative keywords apply exclusively to specific sets of ads within a campaign. This allows for meticulous control over which ads are displayed for particular searches.

So, if you're managing an online fitness equipment campaign. You've organized ad groups—one specifically for "treadmills" and another for "dumbbells."

In this scenario, you might choose to designate "cardio" as a negative keyword for the "dumbbells" ad group. Meanwhile, you could add "weightlifting" as a negative keyword for the "treadmills" ad group.

This way, you're tailoring your approach to ensure that the treadmill ads don't show up in searches primarily interested in weightlifting, and the dumbbell ads avoid being displayed for users searching specifically for cardio equipment.

In a nutshell, it's all about controlling where your ads go and making sure they're not showing up where you'd rather they didn't!


Well, aren’t we glad you asked! We at DigiCom are obsessive data-driven marketers pulling from multi-disciplinary strategies to unlock scale. We buy media across all platforms and placements and provide creative solutions alongside content creation, and conversion rate optimizations. We pride ourselves on your successes and will stop at nothing to help you grow.


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