Negative Keyword Match Types: Here’s What You Need To Know

Negative Keyword Match Types COVER
Ravi Davda Rockstar Marketing CEO

Written by Ravi

Sep 24, 2022

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Advertising with Google Ads can get pricey — especially when the wrong audience is engaging with your ads.

Using negative keywords will help you avoid this. They’re a great way to ensure that you reach the right people at the right time. Not only that, but they also help you to avoid reaching the wrong people. That way, you can avoid wasting money on clicks that won’t convert. However, you must choose the appropriate negative keyword match types for them to be successful.

We’ll explore negative match types in more detail in this article, along with some tips for using them successfully. Stay tuned for more.

What are negative keywords?

What are Negative Keywords?

The terms you wish to keep out of your ads are known as negative keywords. When you add them, it stops users who are looking for those keywords from seeing your ads.

Negative keywords are designed to block any search terms that people may enter that are unrelated to what you supply. 

If you sell running shoes, but those looking for medical shoes see your ads, that would be a problem. This is unquestionably a waste of money. Therefore, you can include “medical” as a negative term to stop this from happening.

The opposite is regular keywords, also known as positive keywords, which are like triggers that Google relies upon to show your ad or ads. For instance, if you’re in the business of selling hats and you have a new line-up of bucket hats releasing soon, your main keyword would be “bucket hats”. However, this is too broad of a topic which could lead you to compete with a lot of people in this market.

And that’s where negative keywords come into play. With negative keywords, you can specify what Google needs to stay away from when showing your ads. Staying with our example of the hats business, a negative keyword, in this case, would be “baseball hats”. Yes, you probably do sell those too, but that’s not the aim of your ad. You need people who are mostly or exclusively looking for bucket hats, nothing more, nothing less.

What are negative keyword match types?

It’s important to consider how you add keywords to your site. The match types and operators you apply to your keywords tell Google how closely to interpret the keyword. This applies to both regular and negative keywords.

Negative match types vs. positive match types

Let’s begin by pointing out the difference between negative match types and the match types for ordinary keywords (we’ll refer to them as positive keywords to make an obvious separation).

Positive keyword match types determine how closely your keywords must match a search query for your ad to show up. On the other hand, negative match types determine how precisely Google analyses the negative keywords you specify.

Positive match types have changed drastically over the last few years. As a result, they now operate in a totally different manner than when they initially appeared. This is not the case with negative match types. These haven’t been altered at all and continue to function exactly as they did when they were first designed.

The 3 types of negative match

Negative broad match

Out of the three potential types, the negative broad match type is perhaps the most limiting (this could be a good thing, by the way!).

When you use negative keywords with broad matches, regardless of the word order, your ad will not appear if a user’s search query includes any of the terms you add.

For instance, you might use broad match to add the negative keyword “tote bags” – simply type it in without any quotes or brackets.

Negative phrase match

If a search phrase has your keyword in the same word order as your negative phrase match keyword, your ad will not show up.

You must contain a keyword in double quotation marks, as in “keyword,” in order to set it as a negative phrase match.

Negative exact match

Only searches for a specific term are excluded when a negative exact match is used to add a negative keyword.

It is the least limiting of the three match-type settings and the default option for adding additional keywords. Put the term in square brackets to add one with a negative exact match: [keyword].

Which match type do you have to use for negative keywords?

Which Match Type Do You Have to Use for Negative Keywords?

For negative keywords, there isn’t one “best” match type. Depending on the situation, you’ll probably employ all three kinds.

Our general guideline is to include as many negative keywords as possible, religiously so. What we mean by that is that each negative keyword you add should be a calculated thought. Don’t go around just randomly adding keywords with little to no relevance to your ad and the audience you’re trying to reach. Relevant but also numerous. The same applies to regular (positive) keywords as well.

Let’s look at an example to help you better understand when you should utilise each negative match type. In this illustration, we’re marketing knitted tote bags under our own brand. It’s known as KnitBag.

Negative broad match type

A Search term report, in this case, would include results that have a direct relation to our business. However, two of the results in the aforementioned report are for our competitor.

We want to keep the adversary products out of our advertising since we don’t sell any of them. In the event that we add them as negative keywords, Google advises using exact match negatives. This will stop our ads from appearing for specific queries, but we will still appear for slightly other queries.

If the competitor develops a new product next year, we must wait for the keyword to surface in our reports before we can eliminate it.

However, this is a huge waste of money and time.

As an alternative, we might substitute the competitor’s name with a broad match negative term. That would make the negative keywords we have in our ad group, campaign, or account simpler and stop both searches from appearing. It would also stop future versions of these keywords from appearing.

Negative phrase match

Let’s now consider a somewhat different situation.

In addition to continuing to market our own line of knit tote bags, KnitBag, we also resell some of our “rivals”‘ goods. Let’s call them FineWear.

Yet, not all of FineWear’s items are available from us; precisely, our catalogue does not include the Sunflower Bag. Even if it’s the most popular item, the quality isn’t as outstanding as it might be for some of their other products.

Therefore, we will put “Sunflower Bag” as a negative phrase match keyword instead of blocking the entire intext keyword. So, instead of using “FineWear” as a negative keyword, you use “Sunflower bag”. That way, only queries that contain those exact words will be blocked. Anyone who looks for anything similar from FineWear but doesn’t type those same exact words will be shown your ad.

Negative exact match

Using the previous example, let’s continue to show a circumstance where using a negative exact match is beneficial. In this case, we are selling FineWear-branded tote bags.

However, we observe in our Shopping campaign that although the search term FineWear bags attract a considerable amount of traffic, it hardly converts. As a result, the ROAS is much too low.

Other relevant search keywords, like “FineWear red bags” or “FineWear summer collection,” are profitable. So we simply want to stop our campaign from appearing for that specific phrase. A negative exact match is ideal for this purpose. We simply add the negative phrase [FineWear bags].


Negative keyword match types – FAQs

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