Going Negative

Flat vector illustration concept of pay per click internet advertising model when the ad is clicked

Did you know that you can dramatically increase your pay per click (PPC) profits by adding “negative keywords” to your campaigns? In many cases the increases can be more than 50 percent. Without adding negative keywords, you definitely are wasting money and creating a likely unprofitable PPC campaign.

What are negative keywords?

According to Google, “Negative keywords allow advertiser to block unwanted search queries,” which means your ads will not be shown in searches unrelated to services you provide.IS-000042945692  voinSveta/Essentials Collection/IStock

For example, let’s say you are bidding on the key-phrase “carpet cleaning” to promote your carpet cleaning services. You opt for a “broad match” or “phrase match” to capture more traffic.

But if you don’t want your ads shown to people searching for “carpet cleaning products,” “carpet cleaning jobs,” “carpet cleaning rentals,” etc., then you must make the words “products,” “jobs” and “rentals” negative keywords in your campaign.

In other words, if you add these negative keywords, your ads will not be shown when these keywords are part of a search query. This will prevent your campaigns from getting irrelevant clicks, saving you a lot of money.

One of the most common key phrases I see disaster restoration companies lose money on is “remove water from iPhone.” So, restoration companies running campaigns for water damage restoration in broad and phrase match should include “iPhone” in their negative keywords.

Three types of negative keywords

The normal, positive keywords you use to place bids have three main matching options: “broad match,” “phrase match” and “exact match.” The same three options are also available for adding negative keywords.

1. Standard (broad) negative keywords

In order to add a word as a negative keyword you simply put a minus symbol (-) before the word itself.

For example, if you don’t want your ad to be shown when someone searches for “carpet cleaning machines,” then you would add the word “machines” with a minus sign in front of it: –machines.

2. Phrase match negative keywords

If you want to add two or more words together as a negative keyword, then you put quotation marks around them.

For example if you don’t want your ad to be shown when someone searches for “carpet cleaning machine rentals” then you add to your negative keywords the phrase “machine rentals” within quotation marks and preceded by a minus symbol: “-machine rentals.”

However, your ad will still trigger if a user searches for “carpet cleaning machine” or “carpet cleaning rental.”

3. Exact match negative keyword

By adding an exact match negative keyword, you can prevent your ad from being shown when someone types the same exact query in Google. The exact match keyword should be placed inside brackets and preceded by a minus symbol.

For example, if you wanted to add the exact phrase “carpet cleaning machine rental” to your negative keywords, you would use a minus symbol followed by the phrase inside of brackets: –[carpet cleaning machine rental].

With this negative keyword in place, your ad will not be shown when that exact phrase is searched. If someone searches for “cheap carpet cleaning machine,” your ad will not pop up; however, if someone searches for “carpet cleaning cheap machine rental” your ad will trigger because the person has not searched the exact phrase you made negative.

It’s always a good idea to add different variations including singular and plural forms of all the negative keywords in your campaign.

How to add negative keywords in Google AdWords

You can add negative keywords at both the campaign level and the ad group level.

First you need to make a list of negative keywords in all variations that you don’t want your ads to show under. Then follow the steps below:

  1. Select the relevant campaign.
  2. Click on the “keywords” tab.
  3. Scroll all the way down to end of keywords.
  4. Click on plus (+) sign to open the “Negative Keywords” list and click the “Add” button.
  5. Copy and paste all the negative keywords from your list.

5 Major Benefits of Negative Keywords

  1. Your ads do not trigger from irrelevant keywords.
  2. Your click through rate increases as a more targeted audience sees your ads, which will result in higher ad positioning without increasing the bid price, so you save more money in the long run.
  3. More targeted visitors will mean more qualified leads, which will increase the conversion rate, so you will get more business without increasing your marketing budget.
  4. You can then use the higher-performing relevant keywords in offline marketing and web copy, which will help increase free, organic rankings of your website.
  5. Your overall profitsincrease, as you pay less to Google, while getting more leads at the same time.

When you begin compiling your negative words, be sure to create a comprehensive list of wrong phrases that might bring up your search. With a little brainstorming, you’ll find that never before have negative words had such a positive impact on your advertising success.


Sonny Ahuja is an internet marketing expert, specializing in high-conversion responsive website design, optimized mobile sites, Google AdWords and SEO. He mainly helps remodeling, disaster restoration and cleaning companies get more leads by developing their online lead generation systems. See how he can help you grow by setting up a free consultation at (414) 434-9557 or by reaching out to his personal assistant Jody at [email protected]. Read more tips and tricks related to internet marketing on his blog at www.SonnyAhuja.com.

Sonny Ahuja

Sonny Ahuja is an online lead-generation expert who specializes in high-conversion responsive websites, optimized mobile sites, Google AdWords, and SEO. He mainly helps remodeling, disaster restoration, and cleaning companies get more leads by developing their online lead-generation systems. Visit killitonline.com for more from Ahuja.

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