What Are Negative Keywords in Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is the foremost advertising service on the web. Countless digital advertisers use the service to display advertisements within the Google ad network to web users around the world.

In fact, the service is so popular that an estimated 97 percent of Google’s annual revenues are generated by its advertising services.

But where does this gigantic service fit into your plan as a small business?

Well, when used properly, estimates show businesses can make $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on the platform.

AdWords is difficult to master, though. It has many nuances and its users can spend years mastering its intricacies and improving the results their ads achieve.

Building an understanding of key concepts is a critical step on the path to using AdWords effectively. Negative keywords is one of those key concepts. While many new AdWords users sometimes struggle to understand negative keywords, it is a concept that is central to making AdWords work for your business.

What are Negative Keywords?

In a nutshell, negative keywords let you exclude search terms from your campaigns. That means negative keywords are an important way of ensuring your campaigns are hyper-focused on the keywords that really matter to your customers.

Effectively using negative keywords also ensures you don’t waste money on irrelevant clicks.

Here’s an example to illustrate. Let’s say you are a small business in Auckland that offers window cleaning services. You will not want to pay for clicks when people search for “house cleaning services” or “car cleaning services”. So, depending on how you set up your campaign, you may need to add those as negative keywords.

How do Negative Keywords Work?

Defining which search terms you don’t want to appear for is just as important as defining which you do want to appear for. After all, you don’t want to pay for clicks from people who are looking for something different to what you offer.

An intelligent approach to using negative keywords can protect your investment and make sure you spend money to appear for the right terms. It takes a lot of lateral thinking, however, as well as experience. An effective SEO agency in Auckland can help with the process.

Also, Google provides step-by-step guidance on using negative keywords in this support article.

What to Keep in Mind When Using Negative Keywords

It is important to understand there are a couple of circumstances where negative keywords are not effective 100% of the time:

  1. Where your ad displays on search results pages that contain close variations of your negative keywords.
  2. When users perform searches that are over ten words long. This is because negative keywords are not excluded after the tenth word. There are workarounds for this scenario, however, such as excluding large portions of those searches as negative keywords.

You should also bear in mind that if you use too many negative keywords, this can dramatically reduce the number of potential customers your ad reaches. Striking a balance is critical.

The key to success is constantly monitoring your campaigns, analysing the results, and making changes to negative keywords and the campaign’s other settings to continually optimise. When you do this, return on investment improves.