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Secrets to NEGATIVE KEYWORDS – It’s Easy If You Do It Smart

People who know me knows that I like heavy metal music .  Now, you probably asking yourself how it’s related to negative keywords in Google ads? Well, heavy metal is aggressive and sophisticate and this is how you should work with negatives keyword be aggressive don’t let them hurt your performance but at the same time be smart and sophisticate don’t just add negative keywords.

Want to know more? Continue reading…

After, reading my negative keywords guide you’ll understand.

  1. What negative keywords are
  2. Different types of match types
  3. What is negative keywords lists
  4. How to implement negative keywords in your account

Negative Keywords Match Types

Just like regular search campaigns negative keywords uses the same match types:

1. Exact Match

Good to use when you want to exclude a specific term. For example, let’s say you own an mans clothes shop and you have a broad campaign for ‘buy shoes’ assuming you sell only mans shoes you would like to add exact negative keywords for [buy kids shoes].

2. Phrase Match

The most popular match type if used right it can help you block most of your negative keywords, phrase match can help you by excluding a set of two or more keywords across all campaigns or even in account level.

For example if you sell Xbox video games and you have a broad campaign for the term ‘Xbox games’ you will want to add a  ‘for free’ as a phrase match so you won’t target someone who not interested to buy and just looking for free Xbox games.

3. Broad Match
Avoid using broad match as a negative keyword, it’s too broad and it also use the close variant option. Having said that you should use a phrase match even for one keyword example ‘free’ this will prevent any keywords that using the word ‘free’ if it was in broad you could get a close variant options like ‘cheap’ or whatever Google think is relevant.

Okay, so know you know which match type to use, that’s great but it’s really not enough. Let’s continue…

Negative Keyword Lists

Unlike adding negative keywords to campaign/ad group level. Negative keywords lists gives you the option to create multiple lists of negative keywords and assign them for multiple campaigns. For example create a list for none intent keywords and add them to a different accounts.

You can reach you negative keywords lists under Tools > Shared Library > Negative Keywords Lists

Negative Keywords List location at Google Ads menu.

Advantages For Using Negative Keywords:

  • Save Money want to save money and earn more instantly? No problem, just add the none relevant keywords as a negative keywords to your campaign and stop throwing money on none relevant keywords.
  • Improve Quality Score, Ad Rank, CPC and CTRAdding the relevant negative keywords can really help you improving this parameters. Why? Because when you adding a negative keyword you making your campaign more relevant and your ads appears on more relevant phrases this combination improve your ranking and reduce your CPC.
  • Get Better Conversion RatesImproving your ad relevancy will improve your conversion rate, you should be getting more relevant clicks from people who actually interested in your product and most likely to convert.

Okay, so now let’s move forward to the actual process of controlling negatives in your Google ads account.

Search Query Report

When using broad/bmm/phrase match type you should use the search query report to exclude none relevant keywords.

But nothing is that simple, what if you running multiple language campaigns? And you need to translate the keywords to English so you can understand what it means.

Also, what is the criteria to exclude keywords? What you need to look for?

Let’s break it down to simple plan.

Secret #1 – Use Google Sheets to auto translate and sort keywords

Firstly go to the search term report, select date range and click export.

When the report is ready go to Google sheet and create a new blank sheet and paste the report content.

Now, to translate all keyword automatically add a new column to the right side of the keyword.

Use this formula to automatically translate keywords to English and copy it to all cells

Okay now we have a file with all search queries so it’s time to play with the data.

Filter and select ‘none’ in the included column. That will filter out all the keywords you already include or exclude from your campaigns.

Now you ready to start review the list by most important parameters:

  1. Sort by cost and review keywords
  2. Sort by CPC descending
  3. Sort by impressions deceasing
  4. Sort by CTR descending
  5. Sort by sort by conversions

Don’t forget that you can also use this opportunity to include new keywords.

 Secret #2 – The phrase negative technique

This method is unique, I’m using it for many years and seeing great results with this method you can easily exclude irrelevant keywords before they even targeting your ads.

So how does it works? The idea behind it is to find patterns that will most likely will appear in combination with other keywords.

To make sure it’s clear, let’s see this example:

You running PPC campaign for Nike shoes for man and women and you notice you spend $1,000 for the keyword: “Nike shoes for kids” now your first instinct will be to put this keywords as a negative in exact or phrase match type and you right  but it’s not enough to really prevent this and similar terms you should use ‘for kids’ as a phrase match type negative in account level this way you will block ‘Nike shoes for kids’ but you will also exclude keywords such as ‘red Nike shoes for kids’ and ‘buy Nike shoes for kids’ will also be excluded.

So by using the phrase negative technique you not only exclude the specific keyword but you also exclude other combination.

Secret #3 Pre Defined Negative Keywords Lists

A good negative keywords lists is mandatory for every PPC campaign. Before you getting the first impression you need to make sure you block al unrelated keywords. There are pre-defined lists that are relevant for every campaign but before that let understand first what is negative keywords lists.

Negative keywords lists use to exclude keywords in multiple campaigns. it’s also a good way to sort your negatives by subjects.

Here are the most common negative keywords lists:

  • Competitors – Make sure you exclude any competitor keywords from your campaigns. Competitors keywords will hurt your CTR, Ad Rank and Quality score which will lead to high CPC and bad performance. If you want target competitors related keyword make sure doing it on a separate campaign.
  • Exact Keywords – This is one of the important list to use, it’s simple you just need to copy all the keywords in your account that you target in exact match type create a negative keyword lists and add it to your broad campaign this way you won’t target the same keyword both in exact and broad.

More common lists to consider:

  • Jobs seekers
  • B2B
  • Adult
  • Video Games
  • Education &  research
  • No Bargains
  • Price shoppers
  • DIY
  • Developers
  • Manufacturers & industrial
  • Products & materials
  • Legal / law
  • Transportation & travel
  • Unwanted geographies
  • For Free
  • Voucher Codes
  • Apprenticeships
  • Jobs
  • Adult XXX

Google Display Network Negatives

Similar to search campaigns, display campaigns also need pre-defined lists and on-going efforts in excluding none related placements.

Here is a recommended list to use from our friends @osman_fcb, Steven Johns from

  • YouTube Children’s Videos/Channels
  • Made For AdSense Websites
  • Made For AdSense Applications (VPN’s, Flashlights)
  • Popular Sites (Gumtree / YouTube / Ebay)
  • Nursery rhymes,
  • Asian placements that aren’t relevant.

Experienced Executive with diverse and proven track record of maximizing results, leading teams, and designing creative solutions to difficult problems. Over 15 years experience in wide range of roles related to Digital Marketing, Product Strategy, Data Analysis, Customer Acquisition, Programmatic Advertising and managing 6-figure budgets.

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