When launching a paid search or shopping campaign in Google Ads, many advertising professionals rightly develop a list of keywords for triggering ads… But oftentimes they completely overlook the terms that they don’t want their ads associated with. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an ad campaign manager, and unless you want to waste your money, it is equally important to define a list of negative keywords in Google Ads

Excluding searches geared towards unqualified visitors or ones that are unrelated to your business offerings could save you a fortune, and those savings can be put to better use by creating more campaigns or testing different ad formats. 

We’ve compiled in an infographic everything you need to master the use of negative keywords in Google Ads and get rid of worthless traffic. Keep reading this post to get an overview of key information about that topic.

About Negative Keywords in Google Ads

As mentioned above, lots of SEM Managers lose a considerable amount of money on worthless clicks and toxic traffic. Something that could be easily avoided by understanding and correctly utilizing negative keywords. 

Negative keywords help exclude irrelevant searches and terms from your Google Ads campaigns so you focus solely on what matters for you and your audience. This way, you will achieve better targeting, increase your conversion rate, and obtain a higher ROI.

By creating and defining negative keywords in your search and shopping campaigns, you will prevent your ads from being shown to people searching for information related to those specific search terms irrelevant for your business. You can assign the terms to your campaign in general or to a specific ad group, depending on where you want the keywords to be excluded. 

Advantages of Negative Keywords in Google Ads

Besides optimizing your ad spend, there are numerous benefits of utilizing negative keywords: 

  • Improve your click-through-rate (CTR): Since you’ll prevent your ads from showing up to uninterested people, the percentage of people who click on your ad will increase. This has wide-ranging benefits, from improving your Quality Score to the number of conversions you achieve on your landing pages.  
  • Refine your ad groups: Excluding irrelevant keywords will cause your ad groups to become more focused. Smaller ad groups help you craft more specific messages that speak to each audience or segment that you’re targeting. 
  • Reinforce your traffic: Adding cross-negative keywords reinforces traffic going to longer-tail exact match keywords. Orbital Ads Keyword Traffic Driver for example, helps take the guesswork and workload out of negative keywords by prioritizing cross-negative keywords, finding and blacklisting duplicate keywords, improving the health of your Google Search campaigns.  

Negative Keyword Match Types in Google Ads

The importance of negative keywords and their many advantages are pretty obvious. Now, you’re probably ready to start using them in your own campaigns. But how do you get started? Download the infographic to explore how to implement negative keywords for each Google Ads match type.

  1. Negative broad match: In this case, keywords are matched to multiple variations of a sentence. Not all the variations of your keyword will be pertinent to your business, and negative broad match will negate queries that show the entire negative keyword independent of the word’s order.
  2. Negative phrase match: This case is less restrictive than the previous one and focuses more on the order of the keywords. Your ads will be eligible to show for any search queries that do not contain the phrase in the exact order you have identified.
  3. Negative exact match: This match exists to eliminate very specific search queries, as your ads won’t show only if the users type the exact negative keyword that you choose in the order you have established. 

Although these match types offer you different ways to deliver relevant, targeting messaging to the exact audience you want to reach (and don’t want to reach), it should be noted that Google has changed its recommendation on the use of Broad Match keywords, something you should be aware of for current and future campaigns. 

Common Mistakes with Negative Keywords in Google Ads

In order to successfully run your Google Ads campaigns, there are a lot of optimization best practices you can follow. However, many of these guides don’t touch on mistakes to avoid, and more specifically, mistakes in implementing negative keywords. Let’s take a look at them! If you need tips on how to avoid them, follow the link to learn more in detail how to master the use of negative keywords in Google Ads. 

Mistake #1: You are not using negative keywords at all

This mistake might sound very basic, but many campaign managers choose to ignore negative keywords in Google Ads despite being a key element within the ad creation and optimization process. The purpose of Google Ads is to provide high-quality content based on user intent, so any person or search that doesn’t fit into your brand targeting should be excluded from your campaigns. Negative keywords are just as important as your ad copy and landing page experience! We’re helping you manage them for your search and shopping ad campaigns. 

Mistake #2: You are using negative keywords in the wrong place

A major mistake that ad managers make is losing sight of their strategy and misplacing their negative keywords. This is why you need to understand the difference between using negative keywords at the campaign level versus the ad group level. 

  • Campaign level: Adding negative keywords at the campaign level means none of your ads will be displayed for these terms regardless of ad group. 
  • Ad group level: Negative keywords at the ad group level means only specific ads in your ad groups won’t show up for the negative search terms established. 


There are actually two mistakes here: 1) losing time in adding campaign-level negative keywords at the ad group level and vice versa, and 2) defining where negative keywords are truly relevant. 

Mistake #3: You are not consistent with your negative keyword lists

It is essential to create consistent negative keyword lists for your ad campaigns. For each campaign, you need to perform a unique keyword research for negative keywords ideas. Google Ads allows you to add up to 10,000 negative keywords per campaign, (not that you should implement this many), but it is highly recommended that you add negative search terms frequently and liberally while running your campaigns.

A certain  inconsistency in the use of negative keywords throughout your campaigns could be a result of lack of time or improper research. Establishing a good routine for keyword optimization will aid you in campaign management, tracking, and achieving (or surpassing) expected results. 

As you can see, negative keywords are essential to make your Google Ads search or shopping campaigns much more effective! 

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