Negative keywords

They help you focus on those keywords that are important to your customers. When you target them better, your ad will show to those people who are interested in what you have to offer, and your return on investment (ROI) will increase.

How negative keywords work

One of the keys to achieving a highly targeted campaign is that you should exclude anything that doesn’t lead to its goal.
When choosing negative keywords for your campaigns, you should focus on search terms that are similar to your keywords but are mostly used by customers looking for a different product. For example, if you owned a sports shop and sold sportswear. So we encourage you to add negative keywords such as ‘sports shirt’ and ‘sports pants.’
When using content or video campaigns, negative keywords will help you avoid anything unrelated to your site or video. However, for content and video campaigns, the negative keywords work differently from search.

What types of negative keywords do we know?

Negative broad match
This is the default type for negative keywords. If your negative keywords are broad-matched, your ad won’t show for searches that include all of the negative keyword’s terms, regardless of the order of the terms. Your ad can appear even if your search includes only some of the keyword terms.

Example: The negative broad-matched keyword is goggles.

negative keywords

Negative phrase match
When you have phrase-matched negative keywords, your ad won’t show if you have exact keyword terms that are in the same order.
The search may include other words, but if there are only keywords in the same order, your ad won’t show. The search can also include other characters in the word. Your ad will appear even if the other terms of your keyword are in the same search order.

Example: Negative keyword with the phrase ‘diving goggles‘.

Negative exact match
If your ad contains exact match keywords, then it won’t show on searches that contain the exact terms of the keyword in the same order without any additional keywords added. However, your ad can appear on searches that include keyword terms with additional words added.

Example: Exact Match Negative Keyword [Diving Goggles].

negative keywords

Symbols used in negative keywords

You can use three symbols: &, length (s) and asterisks (*). “Socks & shoes” is a different keyword than “socks and shoes.”

However, the system does not recognize some of the symbols:

  • Ignored Symbols: Negative keywords ignore, for example, the use of periods (.).
    • However, you can add (+) signs to some negative keywords, but they will be ignored, for example (green + bike), but if there is a plus sign at the end of the word, for example (C ++), they will be added there.
  • Invalid Symbols: If you add negative keywords that contain certain symbols, you’ll see an error message. These symbols cannot be used in negative keywords:,! @% ^ () = {}; ~ `<>? \ |.
  • Web operators and search: The ‘site:’ operator will be removed from your negative keywords. This means that if the negative keyword [site: www.example.com milk chocolate] is added, it will be equivalent to [milk chocolate].
    • However, if, for example, the search operator “OR” is added to the negative keyword milk chocolate, i.e. OR milk chocolate, “OR” will be ignored and only milk chocolate will be considered a negative keyword.
  • Other search operators: If the operator is preceded by a minus sign (-), the keyword will be ignored when searching for negative keyword matches.
    • For example, the negative keyword ‘milk-chocolate’ will be considered the same as the ‘milk’.

What you should not forget

  • When choosing negative keywords, you should be careful not to use them too much, as your ads are likely to reach fewer customers.
  • Your ad may also appear on searches or pages that contain similar variations of negative keyword terms, there is no modifier for those keywords
  • For example, if your negative keyword is in 18th place and is preceded by a phrase that consists of more than 17 words, your ad may also show.
  • However, if your negative keyword were in 17th place, you won’t see your ad

About the Author:

Katarína Dubinová
Account Manager and copywriter for Shoppingin.eu. Writing and translating the articles and blogs for BlueWinston and CSS is my workload. If there are interesting topics, I write it cheerly. I also call with the clients much of my working time, but I like communicating with people. In my free time I read books or listen to music.