How to Use Negative Keywords to Refine PPC Advertising

Negative keywords can refine your PPC campaign

The world of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be competitive. With different advertisers competing for the best keywords, you do not want to waste your money on keywords that do not add value to your campaign. You can maximize your PPC profit by identifying negative keywords and telling Google the words to avoid.

In this article, we will look at negative keywords and see how you can leverage on them for an effective PPC campaign. We will discuss how to add them to Google Ads to avoid spending unnecessarily and only pull the most qualified leads to your site.

Benefits Of Negative Keywords In Google Ads

Some reasons to add negative keywords are:

Filter Unwanted Clicks

Negative keywords are phrases that aren’t related to your brand. When you add them to your PPC campaign, you filter out unwanted traffic unrelated to your business. This way, you exclude unrelated search terms in your campaign and only include keywords that matter. 

Improve Conversion

When you run a PPC campaign, you are looking for clicks that lead to conversion. When you place a Google Ad, Google pulls it out when someone clicks on a keyword related to your brand. If the keyword is irrelevant to your ad, but someone clicks on it, Google will still charge you. This is why it is essential to identify the negative.

For instance, if you run a site on mobile phones and don’t offer repair services, you can include the term “repair” as a negative keyword to prevent Google from showing your ad to people searching for mobile phone repair services. Therefore, using negative keywords ensures your ads don’t trigger irrelevant queries and attract irrelevant traffic.

Save Money

When you filter irrelevant clicks, you can save money you would otherwise have used in ad spend. Therefore, you will have more money to spend on the right traffic.

How To Add Negative Keywords To Google Ads

Here are the steps to adding negative keywords to Google ads:

Identify Negative Keywords

On top of brainstorming your undesired keywords, you can also identify negative keywords by looking at

Google Searches

Do a Google search of the businesses that sell similar products. Look at the search results while taking note of the ad and the listing that includes your relevant queries and those that don’t.

Use Google search to identify negative keywords

AdWords Account

When you check your Google AdWords account, you can tell what people are searching for. To see the report, visit your Adword account and tap on Campaigns. You should then go to Keywords, followed by Search Terms.

 Check the search queries that are triggering your ads. If the terms are unrelated to your product or services, you should add them to your negative keyword. This should also apply to those keywords that aren’t converting well. This will enable you to invest more in keywords that are converting well.

Consider Search Intent

The search intent can also help you to identify negative keywords. When you determine the exact intent of someone searching for your keyword, you can also determine the kind of intent you want to avoid. For instance, if you want to target a transactional keyword like “best mobile phone under $200”, you may also want to avoid an informational keyword like “how to fix my phone at home.”

Determine Your Match Type

If you are familiar with adding keywords to Google ads groups, you understand there are two match types. These two also apply to negative keywords and are:

  • Broad: This is where the negative keywords will be put in default. If a query contains the complete negative keyword in whichever order, the ad will not show. Therefore, this is more restrictive than other match types.
  • Phrase. The ad will not show if your negative keyword is included in its exact order, even if there are additional words.
  • Exact. The ad will only not show if the search query has the exact negative keyword in its order and with no additional characters.

Add The Negative Keywords To Google Ads

After creating a list of negative keywords, you should enter it in the Google ad. Ensure this is formatted so that Google ads will understand it. To do that, you should enter the keywords in brackets and a hyphen before it. For instance:

  • -(Mobile phone repair)
  • -(Phone troubleshooting)

Go to your Google Adword account and click Tools. Under the Shared Library, you should then click on Edit Campaign negative keywords. Click on the Blue plus sign to go to the page where you will enter the keywords. You can then copy-paste your negative keywords on the space left to enter manually. When you have finished adding, click on the save button.

Keep Reviewing Your Negative Keywords

Now that you have identified and added the negative keywords, it doesn’t mean your work is done. This is an ongoing task where you need to keep reviewing the performance of your campaign and adding new keywords to your list.

Tips to Use Negative Keywords Strategically

To get the most out of your negative keywords, here are a few tips to follow:

Review Non-converting Keywords More

You might be tempted to list all non-converting or low-conversion keywords as soon as possible. However, the low conversion rate can result from several reasons, such as a low budget allocation or the ad copy not being optimized to compete well. You should also run your campaigns long enough to gather enough data.

Use Negative Words in Strategic Places

The fact that these are negative keywords doesn’t mean you completely ignore them. They may fit in some of your pages. For instance, you can use them in your informational pages to bring traffic to your site.

Identify negative keywords to optimize ads campaign


You can see that negative keywords are as important as other general keywords. They can help you optimize your ad and improve your conversion while reducing your ad cost. They will, therefore, ensure that your campaigns are effective and efficient. Use this guide to find your negative keywords, cut your costs, and run Google ads like a pro.

Benjamin is a writer with over ten years of experience in the content writing field. He holds a Bachelor's degree in  Journalism from Strathmore University. He writes on various niches such as product reviews, self-improvement, and making mone online. You can find him curled on his couch with a self-improvement book when he is not blogging.