How to Use Negative Keywords in Google Ads

Feb 2, 2018
Business Growth

Welcome to Dan Sevigny Marketing, Public Relations & SEO, where we provide expert guidance and solutions to help businesses succeed in the competitive world of digital advertising. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the importance of negative keywords in Google Ads and how they can significantly impact the performance of your campaigns.

The Power of Negative Keywords

When it comes to running successful Google Ads campaigns, it's not just about targeting the right keywords, but also about excluding irrelevant searches that can drain your budget and hinder campaign effectiveness. This is where negative keywords play a crucial role.

Negative keywords allow you to specify certain search terms or phrases that you want to exclude from triggering your ads. By adding negative keywords, you ensure that your ads won't show up for irrelevant queries, which in turn improves the overall performance and efficiency of your campaign.

Why Negative Keywords Matter

In the highly competitive world of online advertising, it's essential to optimize your campaigns to maximize return on investment (ROI) and reach your target audience effectively. Negative keywords help you achieve this by:

  • Reducing Irrelevant Clicks: By adding negative keywords, you prevent your ads from appearing for search terms that are not relevant to your products, services, or target audience. This reduces unnecessary clicks from users who are unlikely to convert, saving you money and improving campaign efficiency.
  • Refining Targeting: Negative keywords allow you to narrow down your targeting, ensuring your ads are shown to users who are more likely to be interested in your offerings. This helps increase the chances of generating high-quality leads and conversions.
  • Enhancing Ad Relevance: By utilizing negative keywords, your ads will only appear for queries that align with your business objectives. This improves ad relevance, which in turn increases click-through rates (CTRs) and Quality Scores, leading to better ad positions and lower cost-per-click (CPC).
  • Improving ROI: When you effectively utilize negative keywords, you optimize your budget allocation, focusing on searches that have a higher potential for conversions. By excluding irrelevant queries, you can allocate your resources more efficiently and achieve a higher return on investment.

Steps to Effectively Use Negative Keywords

To make the most out of negative keywords in your Google Ads campaigns, follow these steps:

1. Conduct Thorough Keyword Research

Begin by conducting comprehensive keyword research to identify the primary keywords related to your products or services. This will help you understand the search terms potential customers are using to find businesses like yours.

Utilize various keyword research tools and techniques to build a comprehensive list of keywords that are relevant to your business. This step is crucial for ensuring the success of your negative keyword strategy.

2. Identify Irrelevant Search Terms

Once you have your list of primary keywords, it's essential to identify irrelevant search terms that are unrelated to your business or target audience but could trigger your ads. These can include synonyms, unrelated industries, or common terms associated with your products or services that you don't offer.

Thoroughly review your search term reports in Google Ads to identify any recurring irrelevant search terms that have been triggering your ads. This will help you pinpoint the specific negative keywords you need to add to your campaign.

3. Use Negative Keyword Match Types

Google Ads offers different match types for negative keywords, allowing you to control the way they are applied. The three primary match types include:

  • Exact Match: Denoted by enclosing the negative keyword in brackets, exact match ensures that your ads won't trigger for the specific term specified. For example, [free] will prevent your ads from showing when someone searches for "free."
  • Phrase Match: Denoted by enclosing the negative keyword in quotation marks, phrase match prevents your ads from displaying when the specified phrase appears as part of a search query. For example, "cheap shoes" will exclude searches such as "buy cheap shoes" or "cheap shoes online."
  • Broad Match: Denoted by simply entering the negative keyword without any additional symbols, broad match excludes your ads from triggering when any word in the search query matches the specified negative keyword. For example, entering the negative keyword shoes will exclude all queries containing the word "shoes."

Choose the most appropriate match type based on your campaign goals and the specific search terms you want to exclude.

4. Regularly Monitor and Adjust

Once you have implemented negative keywords, it's crucial to continually monitor and adjust your campaigns based on performance metrics and ongoing keyword research. Regularly review your search term reports to identify new irrelevant search terms and update your negative keyword list accordingly.

Monitoring and adjusting your negative keyword strategy will help you refine your targeting, improve campaign efficiency, and ensure your ads are shown to users who are more likely to convert.


Negative keywords are a valuable tool in optimizing your Google Ads campaigns. By excluding irrelevant search terms, you can reduce wasteful ad spend, improve ad relevance, and ultimately achieve a higher return on investment.

At Dan Sevigny Marketing, Public Relations & SEO, we provide comprehensive strategies for businesses in the marketing and advertising industry. Our expertise in Google Ads and SEO allows us to help you leverage the power of negative keywords to drive more qualified traffic and increase conversions.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in creating successful Google Ads campaigns and developing a customized negative keyword strategy tailored to your business needs.

Crystal Repose
Great tips!
Oct 9, 2023
Team Null
Excellent breakdown of negative keywords and their role in optimizing ad performance. Thanks for shedding light on this important aspect of Google Ads.
Jun 16, 2023
I've been looking for resources on negative keywords, and this article really hit the mark. Clear and insightful. 👍
Apr 18, 2023
Scott Pasko
The part about competitive research and utilizing negative keywords to outperform rivals was fascinating. It's a strategic approach that can yield great results.
Mar 21, 2023
Helen Fu
I've been looking for practical advice on using negative keywords, and this article delivered exactly that. Thank you for sharing your expertise.
Feb 25, 2023
Gary Rohwer
I was skeptical about the impact of negative keywords, but this article has convinced me of their importance. It's all about refining targeting.
Jan 19, 2023
Katrina Hansen
The examples provided in this article help to illustrate the power of negative keywords in Google Ads.
Jan 2, 2023
Sundance Digiovanni
The importance of staying updated with negative keywords cannot be overstressed. A dynamic approach is key to maintaining ad relevance.
Oct 11, 2022
Catherine Martin
The practical examples and case studies really helped solidify my understanding of negative keywords and their impact on ad performance. Thank you for sharing.
Aug 26, 2022
Paul Starkey
I'm often overwhelmed by the complexities of Google Ads, but this article simplifies the importance of negative keywords in a way that's easy to grasp. Well done!
Aug 14, 2022
David Willis
As someone new to Google Ads, I found this article to be incredibly informative and easy to understand. Thanks for breaking it down.
Aug 9, 2022
Moon Tay
Having a comprehensive understanding of negative keywords has definitely empowered me to make smarter decisions when managing ad campaigns. Super helpful!
Jul 17, 2022
John Fishell
I've bookmarked this article for reference because the information on negative keywords is valuable and relevant to my marketing efforts. Thank you.
Jul 15, 2022
Ryan Drenth
I've read several articles about negative keywords, but this one really stood out for its practical insights and actionable tips. Kudos!
Jun 30, 2022
Jon Darby
I appreciate the clear and concise explanation of negative keywords. It's a game-changer for ad targeting.
May 26, 2022
Jacqueline King
I never realized how important negative keywords could be in Google Ads until reading this article. Eye-opening stuff! 👀
May 23, 2022
Laura Anderson
I've always been curious about negative keywords, and this article provided exactly the information I needed to start utilizing them effectively.
Apr 5, 2022
Carl Thoresen
I never realized the importance of negative keywords until reading this article. Thank you for shedding light on this topic.
Feb 23, 2022
Beatriz Otero
The step-by-step guidance on implementing negative keywords was really helpful. It's great to have a clear strategy to follow.
Dec 13, 2021
William Hyde
The concept of negative keywords is often overlooked, but this article does a great job of highlighting their significance. A must-read for marketers.
Aug 5, 2021
David Hamrick
I've struggled with wasting ad spend on irrelevant clicks but this article has really opened my eyes to the power of negative keywords. Thank you.
Jul 27, 2021
Marsha Ong
Well-written and informative. Negative keywords are now on my radar for optimizing Google Ads.
Jul 19, 2021
Ron Elm
I've seen a noticeable improvement in ad performance after implementing negative keywords, and this article helped me understand the mechanics behind it.
Jan 10, 2021
Patricia Black
Thank you for sharing this valuable information about negative keywords in Google Ads. It can really make a difference in the effectiveness of ad campaigns.
Nov 24, 2020
Brian Lampright
Great article! Negative keywords are crucial for refining ad targeting. Thank you for the helpful insights.
Aug 22, 2020
Andreas Graef
This article offers practical advice on how to leverage negative keywords in Google Ads. Very helpful.
Aug 21, 2020
Roland James
This article provided a fresh perspective on the role of negative keywords in ad targeting. It's a crucial element that deserves more attention.
Jun 30, 2020
Larry Goodman
I've always struggled with using negative keywords effectively. This article provided some excellent insights and tips on how to do it right.
May 21, 2020
Anthony Algmin
This article made me realize that negative keywords are just as important as regular keywords for successful ad targeting. It's a game-changer!
Nov 23, 2019
Tom Fimmen
I've always struggled with Google Ads, but this article has cleared up a lot of confusion. Looking forward to implementing negative keywords.
Oct 2, 2019
Stanton Calvert
I appreciate the detailed explanation of negative keywords and their impact on ad targeting. This will definitely help me fine-tune my advertising strategy.
Jun 26, 2019
Craig Pool
The tips for brainstorming negative keywords were incredibly helpful. It's all about understanding user intent and behavior.
May 22, 2019
Gerald Robinson
This article makes it so much easier to understand how negative keywords can influence ad performance.
May 8, 2019
John Buong
Interesting read! Negative keywords are definitely an underrated aspect of Google Ads.
Jan 28, 2019
Linda Rains
Great article! Negative keywords are definitely crucial for optimizing Google Ads and improving campaign performance.
Jan 22, 2019
Mark Rupe
The example of using negative keywords to filter out irrelevant traffic was spot on. This can save a lot of ad spend in the long run.
Jan 16, 2019
Vishal Manvi
I've been hesitant to use negative keywords, but this article gave me the confidence and know-how to get started. Thanks for the guidance.
Oct 2, 2018
John Hawkins
Incredible tips on using negative keywords effectively in Google Ads. This will definitely improve my ad campaigns.
Sep 29, 2018
Liz Glidewell
Negative keywords can be a game changer for ad targeting. This guide does an excellent job of explaining their significance.
Jul 19, 2018
Sonia Pasquali
I never understood the impact of negative keywords until I read this article. It's a must-read for anyone managing Google Ads campaigns.
May 21, 2018
Sagi Varghese
The importance of constant monitoring and refining negative keyword lists was a key takeaway for me. It's an ongoing process that requires attention.
Mar 10, 2018
Al Raddatz
The section about how to identify negative keywords was particularly helpful. It's a crucial step that should not be overlooked.
Feb 12, 2018