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Negative keywords: The key to a successful PPC campaign

If you’ve ever wondered why your ads are showing up for searches unrelated to your business, or why you’re spending budget on clicks that don’t bring any conversions, we have a solution for you – negative keywords.

In this article, we’ll explain what negative keywords are and how they can turn your campaign into a successful and effective marketing tool.

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are terms or phrases that you enter into your campaigns to prevent your ads from showing up in unwanted searches. Think of them as a filter to ensure that your ads only reach the right people, and therefore your potential customers. This will not only save you money, but also increase the chances that your ads will be clicked by people who are genuinely interested in your products or services.

Imagine you sell premium men’s watches. You want your ads to be shown to people who are looking for high quality and more expensive watches, not those looking for cheap or replica ones. That’s why you can add exclusionary keywords like “cheap watches,” “free watches,” or “replica watches” to your campaign. This will ensure that your ads don’t show up for searches that include these terms. So you only target relevant potential customers.

Benefits of negative keywords

  • Increased relevance:
    Ensure that your ads only show up for relevant searches. This will increase the likelihood that people will click on them if they are genuinely interested in your offer.
  • Cost reduction:
    You’ll prevent unnecessary clicks on your ads that wouldn’t bring any conversions. This will make efficient use of your advertising budget.
  • Improve click-through rate (CTR):
    A higher click-through rate means your ads will be more attractive to users. This can lead to better quality scores and lower cost-per-click.

Types of negative keywords

Using negative keywords correctly can help you target a more relevant audience and increase the effectiveness of your ads. However, there are several types you can use:

1. Broad Match Negative Keywords

This type of negative keyword is the most general and prevents your ad from showing if the search term contains all the words from the negative keyword in any order.

If you add the negative keyword “cheap watches”, your ad will not show for searches such as “cheap men’s watches” or “cheap watches”, but will still show for “silver watches” or “cheap accessories”.
table with examples of exclusionary keywords: free match

Free matches are useful if you want to exclude a wide range of irrelevant searches.

2. Phrase Match Negative Keywords

Excluding phrase matches are more specific than free matches. The ad will not appear if the search query contains the exact phrase in the selected order.

If you set the negative keyword “cheap watches” as an exclusionary phrase, your ad will not appear for queries like “where to buy cheap watches” or “cheap watches online”, but it may appear for queries like “watches at a low price”.
table with examples of exclusionary keywords: phrase match

Excluding phrases are ideal when you want to avoid showing ads for specific phrases that may be inappropriate for you.

3. Exact Match Negative Keywords

Exclusionary exact matches are the most specific and prevent ads from appearing only for exact match terms.

If you add the exclusionary exact match keyword “cheap watches”, your ad will not show only for that exact query, but may show for similar but slightly different queries such as “cheap men’s watches” or “cheap watches online”.
table with examples of excluding keywords: exact match

You can use exact matches if you only need to exclude very specific queries that are clearly unrelated to your offer.

Proper use of these types of negative keywords will help you target your ads more precisely, making your PPC campaigns more relevant and effective.


Negative keywords are an essential tool for optimizing PPC campaigns, allowing you to target relevant audiences, minimize unnecessary spend, and increase the effectiveness of your ads. By properly utilizing different types of negative keywords, you can ensure that your ads reach only the right people, leading to better budget utilization and higher ROI.

Regularly checking and adjusting your negative keywords is key to continually optimising your campaigns. If you need help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re here to help you succeed!

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