DIY Google Ads: Adding Negative Keywords


Alex Corral

Oct 2, 2017


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Search Engine Marketing

Do you feel that you are over-spending on Google Ads?

Well, you are not the only one. Working in the PPC industry, people always have questions. How can I be more efficient? How can I increase my ROI? What am I doing wrong?

There could be many things that can go wrong with an account. When someone comes to me with this question, though, there is one thing that I always ask.

"Are you adding negative keywords to your accounts?"

Most blankly stare back with this confused look on their face. "Don't worry," I tell them, "It's pretty simple."

Since I frequently get asked this question, I thought that I would make a simple how-to blog post so that you can set these up yourself.

Negative Keywords Definition

If you use Google Ads, then you should be familiar with how the platform works. You choose a keyword and place a bid on it. You write an ad. If both of these are good, then you can drive traffic over to your website. I know that is an extreme oversimplification, but for this how-to, it'll do.

A negative keyword is a keyword that you don't want to appear for. Let's say that you sell widgets. This means that you might have a phrase match keyword for "widgets." If this is the case, you should add negatives for the words "free" and "cheap." By adding these negative keywords, you can still show up for "great widgets" and "superior widgets," but you won't show up for "cheap widgets" or "free widgets." Do you get the picture?

Why Should You Care About Adding Negative Keywords

The main reason you should care is a better ROI. Whatever ROI you are getting from this channel, it can be improved simply by adding negative keywords. If you are diligent with your negative keywords, then you can cut back on a lot of wasted spend. Wasted spend will vary greatly depending on many factors, including the structure of your account.

If you are using only broad match and broad modified keywords (which I strongly hope you are not), you are going to have a much larger task on your hands. Since these keyword match types trigger more search terms, you will need to police the negatives much more. This will ensure that you are only showing up for the specific words that you want. The more specific you get with your key terms, the better off you will be. Phase will require less negative keyword policing than broad match, and Exact match will require even less than that.

How Can You Add Negative Keywords to Your Account

Hopefully, you are on board with this simple fix! See the simple how-to below to get you started adding negative keywords:

  • When you enter your Google Ads account, you first need to click on the KEYWORDS tab. You can find it on the main tab in the Google Ads interface.
  • Once in there, you will want to click on SEARCH TERMS.
adwords interface for negative keywords
  • If you have the new Google Ads interface, you will see this, but the process is the same:
new adwords interface for adding negative keywords
  • Check out the terms that your keywords are triggering for
  • If you see something that you don't want in there, put it in a text document, or write it down on a post-it note. I like to look for the root of the words so that I can add fewer of them over time.
  • Compile a list, and then add them to your account as negatives
  • Add them to either the campaign level or adgroup level
  • Where you add them will depend on the structure of your account
  • Tick the box next to the word, and then push the button that says "add as negative KW."
  • Adjust the type of keyword, BMM, phrase, etc.
  • Hit enter
  • Be aware that you can't add keywords that are more than eight words long in this fashion
  • Bonus, use the editor
  • I like doing this in the Google Ads Editor since it makes everything easier.

How Often Should I Check For Negative Keywords

It all depends on how your account is structured. I know that I mentioned to you earlier that the types of keywords that you use will dictate the amount of time that you will need to spend, but this isn't the only factor. Having exact and phrase match keywords can also be time-consuming if you are doing any keywords sculpting. Depending on how granular you want to get, negatives can take up a fair amount of time. The size of your account will also determine the amount of policing that you would need to do. I like to set aside some time (30-45 mins) every few days to go over these search query reports. I do this because the longer that I go without checking these reports, the more work that ends up piling up.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on LinkedIn.

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