Negative Keywords in Google Ads: How to Save Money & Improve Quality Score

//Negative Keywords in Google Ads: How to Save Money & Improve Quality Score

how to use negative keywords to save money

This is a simple but one of the most effective techniques to help you save money on Google Ads: Negative Keywords.

Negative keywords control when you don’t want your ads to show. Lets say you sell image editing software and don’t want your ads to show when someone key in “free image editing software”.  This can be done by specifying “free” as a negative keyword, which tells Google not to show your ads when someone uses “free” in their search.

If you do Facebook Ads, this is something like excluding particular audiences so they dont see your ads.  This is an article of Google vs Facebook ads if you are interested to read more on.

Common Negative Keywords You Can Use in Your Account Today

Below are lists of common negative keywords you can consider using in your account.

  • Generic
    • free, cheap, scam, lousy, terrible, horrible, bad
  • Research related
    • review, reviews, compare, article, articles, picture, pictures, photo, photos, image, images,
  • Job related
    • job, jobs, salary, salaries, career, careers, occupation, occupations, resume, resumes, meaning, wiki, example, sample
  • Study related
    • course, courses, training, class, classes, book, books

How to find negative keywords

First way is to use the Keyword Planner found in Google Ads:

keyword planner to find negative keywords

As you see above, “online” / “free” / “app” are all suitable negative keywords if your software is not online or app based.

Another way is through the “search terms” report in the keywords section in Google Ads.

search terms report in google ads

This will show you all the queries that resulted in clicks on your ads, so you can see what the actual searches you paid for.  The downside to this, compared to Keyword Planner, though is that you will have to pay for these insights.  If your digital marketing agency sends you keyword reports too, do take some time to scan it for negative keywords.

Lastly is think of the search intent of users and what cannot be served by your product.  For example, if you operate a tuition center and classes are held in groups.  Negative keywords like “one to one”, “private”, “tutor” are suitable negative keywords because you dont serve customers who are looking for “one to one tution”, “private tuition”, “science tutor” etc.

Negative Keywords Match types

Negative keywords can be specified in broad, phrase and exact match types.  Lets look at some examples.

negative broad match

In this case, if we use negative broad match keywords, all the words i.e. running and shoes must appear in the search query for the query not trigger an ad to show.

negative phrase match

For negative phrase match, the negative phrase “running shoes” must be in the search query for ads not to show.

negative exact match

Lastly for negative exact match, ads will only not show when the exact keyword is used.

How to add Negative Keywords

You will need to add synonyms, singular or plural, misspellings and close variations for negative keywords.  This can be done in the keywords section, under “Negative Keywords” tab as shown below.

add negative keywords

Negative keywords can be added at various levels:

  • Campaign level: All ad groups in that campaign will use these negative keywords
  • Ad group level: The negative keywords only apply to that particular ad group
  • Shared library -> Negative keyword lists:  Lists of keywords that can be used at campaign/ad group level

Keywords specified at the campaign level is convenient as you will not need to duplicate the keywords at each ad group.  However do take extra care that they do not in fact block some of your normal keywords from appearing.  For example, if one of your product ad groups focus on “paraben free cosmetics”, then you certainly would not want to use “free” as a negative keyword.

Benefits of Negative keywords

  • Your ads only show for more relevant queries, hence people are more likely to click them i.e. a higher click through rate
  • Higher click through rate results in higher Quality Score
  • Higher Quality Score results in Lower Cost Per Click for you

I hope the above gives you a good idea of how negative keywords can benefit your account by reducing your cost per click of keywords, at the same time reaching a more targeted audience.

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2019-01-20T23:02:14+08:00Google Ads|