negative keyword examples

When it comes to Google Ads and PPC, we all know what keywords are - the search terms that you want to match your ads to.

Many of us know what negative keywords are as well, but I couldn't find anywhere that shows specific examples of negative keywords in real-life situations. 

This article will arm you with a list of examples that you can take away and implement into your own campaigns.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are terms or phrases that you set to prevent your ads from appearing when somebody enters an irrelevant search query.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Bottom Line - If you add a negative keyword within your Google Ads account, then Google will blacklist that keyword, and will never display your ad when somebody enters that keyword.

This helps advertisers stop paying for clicks from people who are unlikely to convert. They simply are not going to become interested customers, so we don't want to advertise for their searches.

Importance of Negative Keywords

Keeping on top of negative keywords is incredibly important. 

Itโ€™s incredible how almost every single account Iโ€™ve looked at inevitability has a ton of spend on completely irrelevant keywords that arenโ€™t performing.

Google is getting better and better with their machine learning each and every year, but the machine still struggles to understand some of the subtle differences of intent behind certain search terms.

Here's an example of some companies who failed to properly add negative keywords to their campaigns, leading to the user (me) getting hit with irrelevant ads.

irrelevant ads negative keywords

Negative Keyword Match Types

Just like regular keyword, with negative we have 3 different match types.

Below is an example from a client we worked with at our Google ads agency, in the coffee niche  โ˜•๏ธ

 ๐ŸŒ Broad Match Negative - Your ad won't show if the search contains all your negative keyword terms. For example, If you add "free" as a broad match negative, your ad won't show up for searches like "free coffee samples" or "best free coffee deals".

๐Ÿ‘‹ Phrase Match Negative - Your ad won't show if the search contains the exact keyword terms in the same order. For example, adding "wholesale" as a phrase match negative keyword would prevent your ad from showing for searches like "wholesale coffee beans bulk order".

๐ŸŽฏ Exact Match Negative - Your ad won't show if the search contains the exact keyword terms, in the same order, without extra words. For example, if you put [decaf] as an exact match negative keyword, your ad wonโ€™t appear for the search "decaf coffee beans", but could still show for "coffee without caffeine".

Examples of Negative Keywords

Let's now look at a big list of negative keyword examples to help you better understanding and inspiration.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ  Luxury Travel Agency - Negative Keywords Examples

They might decide to add the following negative keywords for exclusion, because they don't match our high-end target audience.

  1. Cheap
  2. Affordable
  3. Budget
  4. Low Cost
  5. Low Price
  6. Last Minute
  7. Hostel 
  8. Offer

๐ŸŽ“ Online University - Negative Keywords Examples

They might decide to add the following negative keywords so that they filter out irrelevant searches:

  1. Free learning
  2. Free courses
  3. Download
  4. Torrent
  5. YouTube

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ  High Performance Running Shoes - Negative Keywords Examples

A company exclusively selling high-performance running shoes may want to add these negative keywords, so that they avoid getting more generalist searches:

  1. Trainers
  2. Sneakers
  3. Casual 
  4. Gym 
  5. Crossfit
  6. Nike
  7. Adidas 
  8. Tennis

Note: These are important to add into both search and shopping campaigns - We regularly implement these at our Google shopping agency.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป Mobile App Development Agency - Negative Keywords Examples

A company offering only website development services might want to add the following negative keywords because they don't match their specific services:

  1. Marketing
  2. Design 
  3. Branding
  4. Website Development
  5. Social Media
  6. Content Marketing
  7. Search Engine Optimization
  8. Guide
  9. Tips

๐Ÿ’ Flower Delivery Service - Negative Keyword Examples

A flower delivery service might want to add the following negative keywords, because the search intent doesn't match with someone looking to buy.

  1. Gardening Tips
  2. Flower Care
  3. Advice
  4. Guides
  5. How to grow flowers

โฑ Luxury Watch Store - Negative Keyword Examples

They might choose to add negative keywords around 'repairs' because they're only focused on first time sales.

  1. Repair
  2. Fix
  3. Mend
  4. Broken 

How to Select Negative Keywords

  1. Brainstorming Session: Sit down and think about what your product or service is not about, and the types of customers you don't want to attract. 
    • Example: For a luxury watch store, add "repair" to avoid people looking for watch repair services.
  2. Competitor Analysis: Look at what your competitors are doing and the keywords they target. Do they target certain areas that you don't? If so, consider those as negatives. 
    • Example: If competitors offer "watch engraving" but you donโ€™t, include "engraving" as a negative keyword.
  3. Use Keyword Planning Tools: Tools like Google's Keyword Planner will suggest a ton of related terms. When assessing these, exclude any of them that are clear candidates for negatives. 
    • Example: The Keyword Planner might suggest "smartwatches" for a luxury watch campaign. If you only sell traditional watches, "smartwatches" should be a negative keyword.
  4. Search Term Report Analysis: Dive into the search term reports. Look for terms that have high impressions but low CTR and conversions.
    1. Example: For an established flower delivery service, "flower gardening tips" might get impressions but no conversions.
  5. Review Conversion Data: Examine the search terms that led to conversions and pinpoint any irrelevant terms that slipped through the cracks.
    1. Example: If "free flower delivery" is driving clicks but not conversions, add "free" as a negative keyword.
  6. Use Analytics Insights: Leverage Google Analytics to find out which search terms lead to high bounce rates and low session duration.
    1. Example: "DIY flower arrangements" may drive irrelevant traffic that bounces fast from your site.

Application Levels of Negative Keywords

1) Account-Wide

Use this for keywords that are universally irrelevant to your business.

  • Example: An online clothing retailer might add "diy," "repair," or "jobs" to avoid job seekers or people looking for DIY guides.

2) Campaign Level

Apply negative keywords that don't relate to that specific campaign's focus.

  • Example: In a campaign for winter clothing, negatives might include "summer," "shorts," or "sandals".

3) Ad Group Level

Apply negative keywords that clash with the ad group's targeted sub-niche.

  • Example: In an ad group for wedding dresses, negatives might include "casual," "second-hand," or "costume".

Ongoing Best Practices

  1. Regular Monitoring: Consistently review search terms and analytics to refine your negative keyword list.
  2. Balance Match Types: Use a mix of match types for negative keywords to finely tune your campaign without over-filtering.
  3. Performance Evaluation: Keep an eye on CTR and conversion rates after applying negatives to gauge how

With these examples, you should be able to stay well on top of your negative keywords and push all of your spend towards better converting keywords ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Stewart Dunlop