In Google Ads, one keyword can trigger impressions on hundreds of search queries. To exclude non-target keywords, you need to add negative keywords to the advertising campaign. How to collect negative keywords correctly (and efficiently, and effectively) and how to semi-automate collecting negative keywords – in this article!
What’s the difference between keywords, search terms and negative keywords
Keywords ≠ queries. The keyword is how we think people will search, and the query is how they actually search.
For example, the key “PPC course” may refer to:
- search for courses for training (video lessons on advertising, online course of advertising);
- search platforms for publishing their courses (“publish your course on PPC advertising”, “educational platforms for publishing a course on PPC advertising”).
The first and second cases are two completely different target groups of audience. As a result, paid clicks on irrelevant requests do not lead to the expected conversion and profit, but to a waste of money and losses. This is where negative keywords come into play.
Keyword – a word / phrase that the advertiser specifies to work as a trigger to display ads.
Query is a word / phrase that a user enters into Google when searching.
Negative keyword is a word that prohibits displaying ads.
That is, if you add the negative keyword “publish”, then the ads will not be seen by people who are looking for “where to publish a course on contextual advertising.”
What are negative keywords in online advertising
Negative keywords are words or phrases (up to 10 words) that prevent ads from showing, even if the user searches for related queries. With them, you will be able to reach exactly the audience of potential customers, effectively distributing your budget and not spraying onto too broad requests.
Negative keyword lists in Google Ads affect the effectiveness of PPC management:
- increase the CTR: ads do not appear for inappropriate terms, this reduces impressions without a click-through to the landing page and, as a result, affects the growth of the number of relevant clicks;
- save the budget: you do not pay for clicks, which probably won’t help people to find what they need;
- increase conversion rates by more relevant offers.
In Google Ads, negative keywords, like keywords itself, have three match types.
How to build negative keyword lists for PPC ads
You can search for negative keywords for advertising in different ways.:
- Keyword planner;
- comparison with SEO;
- research of the search results page;
- analysis of the search queries report.
# 1 Brainstorming – how to find negative keywords
Before launching an ad campaign, collecting basic negative keywords can start with active brainstorming. Think about how potential customers are supposedly looking for your product or service. A couple of options will probably pop up that are not worth spending your money on. Write everything down – it will come in handy later!
Suppose Peter enters “PPC advertising” into the search bar. He can search for anything:
- an agency where you can order advertising setup;
- courses for training on advertising;
- conferences and other events;
- online publications and news portals;
- blogs, articles…
So, if we advertise services for setting up advertising, then in the list of negative keywords for advertising, you need to include everything that does not intersect with the setting: courses, school, training, news, articles, blogs …
#2 Initial collection – how to choose negative keywords
With the search query planner, we can work not only with keywords, but also form a primary list of negative keywords for advertising. To do this, browse related keywords for the main query and mark those that match negative keywords.
Let’s say, we develop and advertise tools for PPC. In this case, the keyword “order advertising setup” will be irrelevant. So it is important for us to reach the audience of specialists who independently set up the context and are interested in useful plugins or scripts in order to free their hands from routine work.
To select negative keywords, go to the Planner: select (1), click on three dots (2), add (3) as negative keywords, select the match type (4).
Add search queries to negative keywords right during the analysis!
#3 Comparison with SEO – how to find negative keywords
SEO and PPC are not competitors. Analyze organic search results:
- why overpay for requests that are already in the top results;
- and why not to use PPC for potentially efficient queries?
#4 Search results page analysis – how to find negative keywords
If you enter a few basic queries in Search and analyze the results, you can find a lot of interesting things. And completely irrelevant to your ad campaign. Save everything to negative keyword lists.
#5 Google Ads Query Report – Finding Negative Keywords
Collecting negative keywords is also relevant for existing advertising campaigns. Even more, analyzing and updating negative keyword lists is important on a regular basis. The report on search queries will help with this: in the account section Keywords → Queries.
It displays the requests for which your ads appear in the search results. In this tab, you will see:
- search query – a trigger for displaying an advertising offer: WHAT the user entered into the search bar;
- the match type;
- added / excluded: Shows whether a particular query is related to a keyword or negative keyword.
From the entire list of queries choose:
- irrelevant words for an advertising campaign, individual groups and / or ads;
- ones with a very low conversion rate;
- requests for which impressions significantly exceed clicks.
How to choose the right search terms for collecting a list of negative keywords
Having a huge number of keywords is not always financially beneficial. Therefore, it is important to work on it in order not to overpay. We recommend using 3 metrics for effective analysis:
- conversion rate;
- cost of conversion
Thus, a low CTR means that users are not interacting with ads. What to do:
- the term is irrelevant to business – add it to negative keywords;
- the query is relevant to a specific product – it might be worth creating a new ad group for it with more relevant ads.
A low conversion rate and / or high CPA is a signal of a problem: after visiting a landing page, the user does not find what he needs. This can be due to anything: the page is not responsive for mobile devices, a difficult or incomprehensible customer path, advertising does not match the offer on the landing page, and much more.
To understand which words / phrases need to be included in the list of negative keywords, use the filters in the reports: section Keywords → Queries → check if the metrics you need for analysis are displayed (add three dots if necessary) → Filter:
Look only at queries that require attention by key metrics: CTR, conversion rate, CPC / CPA
To select, set the parameters >, < or =. For example, let’s say you want to filter out queries with low CTRs for your business. When setting up, specify the condition and value of the indicator: “<[value of the average CTR]”. All requests with a click-through rate below the specified level will appear in the report. You also need to filter with other parameters.
Filter your search queries with conversion rate over and under a certain percentage
How to collect negative keywords in your Google Ads account
The selection of negative keywords is a very time-consuming and dreary task. And it takes a lot of time to form lists, because they will not contain 5 words. Our experience shows that about 10% of the PPC employee’s time is spent on searching, evaluating, sorting search queries and adding negative keywords to advertising campaigns. To speed up this process, it is worth automating it a little.
The NegativeKeywords tool is an extension for Google Chrome that saves 6+ hours per month on picking words and building lists.
NegativeKeywords tool allows you to collect, store, update lists of negative keywords from different websites. You can collect negative keywords for setting up advertising campaigns on Google from Serpstat, Google Ads, Bing, Ubersuggest, Optmyzr, iSpionage, SimilarWeb, Semrush, SpyFu + Yandex services (Wordstat, Metrika, Direct).
To get started with the NegativeKeywords Tool extension:
Go to Google store → open PPC Negative Keywords Tools → install it.
Register with the Komondor PPC Software (ex Hub of PPC Tools) – it takes less than 5 minutes.
For the results to be displayed correctly in your account, log in to the extension using the data you used for the Komondor.
That’s it, the app is ready to go!
To collect negative keywords, go to the website: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Yandex, SimilarWeb, SEMRush, etc.
On the site, click LeftAlt + S and collect words (LeftClick) or phrases (Alt + LeftClick).
All selected words as well as phrases are saved in the list.
After collecting, save your lists to your Hub account (now Komondor PPC Software) for future management. You will find the data in the Negative words tab.
You can add negative keywords to the targeted advertising campaign directly from your account.
You can create up to 20 negative keyword lists in one Google Ads account, each containing up to 5,000 words. In this case, the same list applies to any number of campaigns, and you can add multiple lists to one campaign.
When data is updated, the lists are automatically updated.