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About negative keywords

Negative keywords let you exclude search terms from your campaigns.

This feature can help you focus on only the keywords that matter to your customers. Better targeting can put your ad in front of interested users and increase your return on investment (ROI).

This article explains how negative keywords work and when they might be useful. Learn more about how to Add negative keywords.

How they work

One key to a highly-targeted campaign is choosing what not to target. Because keywords can target a broad set of phrases, it’s important to see whether every term is related to your business.

Example

Let's say that you're an optometrist who sells eyeglasses. In this case, you may want to add negative keywords for search terms like “wine glasses” and "drinking glasses."

When selecting negative keywords, look for search terms that are similar to your keywords, but might cater to customers searching for a different product.

Types of negative keywords

Like with other keywords, you can use broad, exact, or phrase match negative keywords. However, these negative match types work differently than their positive counterparts.

The main difference is that you'll need to add synonyms, singular or plural versions, misspellings, and other relevant variations if you want to exclude them.

Negative broad match

This type is the default for your negative keywords. For negative broad match keywords, your ad won't show for searches where every word, in any order, of your keyword appears in the search. Your ad may still show for situations where some of the words appear.

Example

Negative broad match keyword: running shoes

Search Could an ad show?
blue tennis shoes Yes
Google running gear Yes
blue running shoes No
shoes running No
running shoes No

Negative phrase match

For negative phrase match keywords, your ad won't show for searches that include the exact keyword. Searches may include additional words, and the ad won't show as long as the words that make up the keyword are included in the search in the same order.

Example

Negative phrase match keyword: "running shoes"

Search Could an ad show?
blue tennis shoes Yes
Google running gear Yes
blue running shoes No
shoes running Yes
running shoes No

Negative exact match

For negative exact match keywords, your ad won't show for searches of the exact keyword without extra words. Your ad may still show for searches that include the keyword with additional words.

Example

Negative exact match keyword: [running shoes]

Search Could an ad show?
blue tennis shoes Yes
Google running gear Yes
blue running shoes Yes
shoes running Yes
running shoes No
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