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Why you should keep a close eye on your negative search terms
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Jonas Hagströmer Theodorsson

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Why you should keep a close eye on your negative search terms

Google Ads | 6 minutes

Negative search terms, or negative keywords, are an important part of a well targeted campaign. By using them, you’ll avoid having your ads show up when the wrong users are looking for the wrong things – and ultimately save a lot of money on your search campaign.

What are negative search terms?

Negative search terms are keywords or phrases you set up in your Google Ads to prevent certain words or phrases from triggering your ads when a user searches for them.

By excluding these negative words, you can focus on only those keywords that matter to your customers. Your target will be more specific and your ads won’t be shown to the wrong users. Because to get a great targeted campaign, you must also keep in mind what not to target!

Don’t pay for unnecessary search terms and save money on your ad campaign

If you don’t keep a close eye on your negative keywords – you will ultimately pay for unnecessary search terms – and waste your money on users that are never going to buy your products or even click on your ads.

Someone searching for “cheap nike air max sneakers” or “louis vuitton replica” won’t ever be interested in buying the real thing. Even “second hand” or “used” could trigger the wrong users.

In Google Ads, it’s easy to see what people searched for prior to seeing and clicking on your ad. This is usually very useful when adapting and refining your keywords – but it’s also necessary to keep track of what people search for, that you DON’T want your ads to be triggered by. 

If you have a campaign with the keyword term 'leather shoes', your report will perhaps show that your ads are triggered by the search 'second hand leather shoes' as well. 

Adding this search term to your campaign as a negative one, you’ll easily exclude these from the Google search results, and reduce your ad spend.

You can also use negative keywords if you have a campaign in the display network or in videos to avoid targeting the wrong sites or videos.

Different negative search terms will bring different results

In search campaigns you can use three different types of negative search terms: broad, phrase or exact matches.

  • Negative broad match is the standard type for negative search terms – where every word will be excluded when used in the same search, regardless of order. And if only one of the words is used in a search, your ad might still show.

  • Negative phrase match is a search term that will keep your ads from showing in a search that contains the exact keywords in the same exact order. Additional words or a different order of the keywords might however trigger your ad.

  • Negative exact matches is a search phrase that only keep your ad from showing if the search contains those exact keyword terms, in that exact order. If the search contains additional words together with your exact search phrase, however, your ad may still show.




Tip! Keep in mind that you must add every different version of a negative keyword to exclude it in your search campaign – such as misspellings, singular or plural versions or synonyms.

It’s important to choose your negative keywords carefully. If you use too many, your ads might not get the reach you need. On the contrary, using too few or too broad keywords, your ad might still show on searches, in videos or on pages that contain variations of these negative search terms. Read more in Google’s guide about negative keywords.

People search for weird stuff – be careful!

For retail businesses, it’s especially important to keep track of unwanted search terms. Users tend to search Google for everything, which may easily result in strange search queries where your products might show up if you don’t watch out. Lots of searches tend to include adult content related results – and it’s a retailer’s nightmare to have to pay for these search terms!

Keeping a close eye on what search terms trigger your ads, and looking into your Google Ads reports every so often, you can add and adapt your negative search terms to improve your search campaigns. This way, you’ll both save money on your ads, and keep your precious products away from those unwanted ( read bizarre) user searches!

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Feb 12, 2020 02:00:00 PM 6 minutes No