Optimising Google Ads with Negative Keywords

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are specific terms or phrases that can be added to your Google Ads campaign to prevent your ads from showing for certain search queries. By leveraging the negative keyword functionality, you can cut out any keywords that aren’t relevant to your campaign or aren’t performing well.

For example, if you are running a campaign for a luxury hotel, you might want to exclude terms like ‘cheap’ or ‘budget’ as negative keywords to avoid showing your ads to people looking for cheaper options.

By understanding what negative keywords are and how to use them effectively, you can improve the targeting and performance of your Google Ads campaign and make sure that you’re not wasting your budget on clicks coming from keywords you don’t want.

Understanding the role of negative keywords in Google Ads

Negative keywords play a crucial role in optimising your Google Ads campaign. When you set up your Google Ads search campaign, you will often choose from 3 types of keywords. B

Below is an example of search terms that might come up for the keyword “Solicitor in Southampton”

  • Exact match keywords: Solicitor near me, solicitor Southampton, solicitors near Southampton, family solicitor, conveyancing solicitor
  • Phrase match keywords: Solicitor review, cheap solicitor,
  • Broad match keywords: How much does a solicitor earn, how to become a solicitor, do you need to go to university to become a solicitor, solicitor salary, what does a solicitor do

As you can see from the examples above, Google will use an algorithm to place your adverts across multiple search terms. However, if we take the example above, your law firm might not offer conveyancing services, and therefore the term “conveyancing solicitors” wouldn’t be relevant.

This is where the use of negative keywords is vital. You can review the search terms that have triggered your advert and remove those that aren’t relevant. This process should be done at least once a week, but during the early stages of your campaign, I suggest doing it more frequently.

This process will ensure you avoid wasting your ad budget on clicks that are unlikely to convert. This not only saves you money but helps improve your return on investment (ROI) and Click Through Rates.

Identifying negative keywords

To identify high-impact negative keywords, you will need to go into the search term reports within Google Ads and find the keywords that have triggered your ads. As we mentioned before, it’s important to regularly analyse the search terms that triggered your ads and remove keywords that are irrelevant or not aligned with your campaign goals.

At the early stages of your campaign, the keywords you choose to select will be the ones that are obvious to you (the business owner) and are not relevant to your goals or services. As time goes on, you should continue to look at the search terms report to see which queries have higher CTR and Conversion Rates. You may wish to add lesser performing keywords to your negative keyword list for more budget to be put into the search terms that best convert.

This method ensures that your campaign is only showing for keywords you want or later on the keywords that give you the best performance.

Negative keywords impact on ad relevance and CTR

When you’re reviewing the search term report and going through the keywords that triggered your adverts you need to think beyond just the obvious.

What I mean by this is that there will be keywords that stand out and are not what you want to be paying for. However, some of the phrases that trigger your ads might be a lot closer to the mark, but are they exactly what you want?

If we take the example of “3-bedroom villas” and you have a 3-bedroom villa in Barcelona, you may have search terms such as “4-bedroom villas” or “apartments in Barcelona”.

Whilst these search terms may lead to a conversion, it is less likely. You should be optimising your ad copy and landing page to be as specific to the keywords you’re targeting as possible. Therefore, a user searching “4-bed villas” that sees your advert with the ad copy “3-bedroom luxury villa in Barcelona” is far less likely to click.

By continuously monitoring and refining your negative keyword list, you can ensure that your ads remain relevant and effective in reaching your target audience and giving the user the journey they want or are expecting.

Need support?

If you need support with your Google Ads campaign, please get in touch with us. We’d be happy to go through your account with you and make sure that your account and strategy are as good as possible.

We’ve also put together this guide about optimising search campaigns if you’d like to take a deeper dive beyond just negative keywords.

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