Negative keywords in 6 steps

Negative keywords

A keyword type that prevents your ad from being triggered by a particular keyword or phrase. Indicates to Google not to show your ad when someone searches for that phrase.

  • For example, if you add the word "free" as a negative keyword to your campaign or ad group, instruct AdWords not to show your ad for any search that contains the term "free." On the Display Network, your ad is less likely to appear on a site when the negative keywords match the content of the site.
  • A similar term is negative matching, one of the four keyword matching options used to describe negative keywords.
  • Add negative keywords to the keywords tab by clicking "Negative keywords" under the main panel.
  • Negative keywords are an important part of any campaign because they ensure that your ads only appear to users who are looking for what you are offering. This additional level of control can help you increase your clickthrough rate (CTR), improve your average cost-per-click (CPC), and improve your ROI.



The careful selection of appropriate keywords, is an important step in designing a effective Google AdWords campaign. Think like your customers, use the Keyword Tool and you will build a representative list of the words that will trigger your ads. However, the add negative keywords is the cornerstone for the success of your campaign. The tips of the AdWords Experts of Papaki.gr will help you design an effective strategy for negative keywords and increase the return on your investment by following 6 simple steps!


Why enter negative keywords?

Negative keywords, if chosen and implemented correctly, can save you time and money, because:

- prevent your ads from appearing to users who are not your audience,

- exclude users looking for something other than what you provide,

- filter out unwanted impressions and clicks,

- save you from unwanted charges and therefore, reduce costs,

- help you achieve a high CTR and therefore, increase the chances of an equally high Quality Score,

- guide you to invest your advertising budget wisely and purposefully and thus, improve your return on investment (ROI).


To learn how to pick negative keywords and how they will benefit your campaign performance and success, follow 6 tips that we have gathered for you:


1. Use AdWords Reports
THE Search Query Report (SQR) is exactly what you need because it shows you the exact terms used by users in their search and your ad appeared. Your campaign should already be running for a few days to see what users are doing. So you can see which words trigger your ads and exclude those that are not related to them.

Assuming you are advertising a luxury hotel in Sifnos and the Search Query Report shows you words like "cheap holidays in Sifnos" and "reviews for hotels in Sifnos" redefine your list and enter the words "cheap" and "comments" in the negative keywords as they do not represent the searches of the public you want to view your luxury hotel and if you focus on bookings, you are not interested in attracting users who are looking for opinions and comments.

Accordingly, if you are advertising "cameras" and your SQ Report has shown that your ads appear when users type words such as "espresso machine" and "Ducati Monster machine", then you definitely need to redefine the keyword list, to choose them appropriate matching types and enter the words "espresso" and "Ducati Monster" in the negative keywords.


To use the report follow these steps:

a. Sign in in your Google AdWords account

b. Select the "Campaigns" Tab and click on the "Keywords" Category

c. Select "Keyword Details" and click "All" to display all the words that triggered your ads.

keyword details

We recommend that you use this Report at least once a week because it will help you design your keyword list more targeted and identify the keywords that represent your advertised products / services.


2. Types of Matching to negative keywords

Did you know that negative keywords also apply to matching types: broad - phrase - exact; The phrases phrase and exact work the same way, while broad match a little differently because it does not recognize spelling mistakes, plurals and similar words.

So, continuing the above example with the luxury hotel, if you want to enter the word "cheap" in the negative keywords in broad match, it is good to enter also:

- singular: cheap, cheap

- similar words: economic, financial, economic

- spelling mistakes: cheap, cheap, cheap

- greeklish: fthinos, fthina, f8ines


3. When normal keywords are the same as negative keywords

Make sure the negative keywords do not match the regular keywords. If this happens, your ads will not appear when the user uses these keywords. For example:

Keyword: send Greece free

Negative Keyword: Free

Google will display an alert in your AdWords account to let you know that a "free" keyword is the same as a negative keyword. To avoid similar problems it is good to regularly check the keywords of your campaign, to remove those that are duplicate or the same as the negative keywords, to modify them types of keyword matchingand correctly match the negative keywords with the campaign or ad group.


4. Use negative keyword lists

A functional and easy way to manage negative keywords is to create lists. Lists help you save time as you adapt them to any campaign, avoiding continuous copy-paste. See below how it is done:


a. Sign in in your Google AdWords account

b. Select from the left column "Shared Library"

shared library

c. Then click on "Negative Campaign Keywords"


d. Create a List of New Negative Keywords


e. Choose a name for your list and enter the negative keywords, as in the example below, and save.


f. To associate the list with one or more campaigns, select "Apply to campaigns"



5. Optimize the existing list

It is good to spend some time two to three times a month to check the list of negative keywords. You will need to add new words from searches that are not related to what you are viewing, but sometimes you may need to remove a word. For example, if you run an AdWords e-bookstore campaign, you may have listed the keyword "magazine" in your list of negative words. If after a few months you decide to promote online magazines, be sure to remove the word from the list.


6. Gather enough data before making any changes

Proper research will lead you to the right choice of negative keywords. You may have noticed that some keywords do not show results, however, consider whether they relate to seasonal demand products or services before listing them in negative keywords.