Add negative keywords to your campaign

Negative keywords can help you to reach the most interested customers, reduce your costs and increase your return on investment (ROI). When you add negative keywords (available for "Search Network only" and "Search & Display Networks" campaigns) or keyword exclusions (for "Display Network only" campaigns), your ad won't show to people searching for those terms or visiting sites that contain those terms.

With negative keywords, you can:

  • Prevent your ad from showing to people searching for or visiting websites about things that you don't offer.
  • Show your ads to people who are more likely to click them.
  • Reduce costs by excluding keywords where you might be spending money but not getting a return.

When you select negative keywords, you'll want to choose search terms that are similar to your keywords, but signal that people are looking for a different product.

Example

Let's say that you're an optician who sells glasses. You'd want to prevent your ad from showing to someone searching for or visiting web pages that contain terms like "wine glasses" and "drinking glasses", since that person isn't likely to buy a pair of your eyeglasses.

Note: Video instructions are up-to-date, but don't show the latest AdWords design.

Follow steps in your account

Click this link to go to your account and see a guided tour that walks you through each step to add negative keywords to reach the right customers. Note that this step-by-step flow is available for “Search Network only” and “Search and Display Networks” campaigns. Show me how Or, you can read the instructions below.

Add negative keywords (“Search Network only” or “Search & Display Networks” campaigns)
  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click the campaign or the ad group that you'd like to add negative keywords to.
  3. Select the Keywords tab.
  4. Scroll down to find the negative keywords section below the main keywords table. Expand the section by clicking "+".
  5. You'll see two tables: "Ad group level" and "Campaign level".
  6. To add negative keywords to an ad group, click the + Add button in the "Ad group level" table. To add negative keywords to a campaign, click the Add button in the "Campaign level" table.
  7. Add your negative keywords, one per line. There's no need to include a negative sign (-) before each keyword. If you add broad-matched negative keywords, you'll need to add their plural versions, such as "wines". To add a negative phrase-matched keyword, surround the term with quotation marks. To add a negative exact-matched keyword, surround the term with brackets. Learn more about using negative keywords with match types.

    Note

    Make sure that your negative keywords don't overlap with your regular keywords, because this will cause your ad not to show.

  8. Click Save.
Edit, delete or download negative keywords ("Search Network only" or "Search & Display Networks" campaigns)

Once you have added negative keywords to your campaigns, you can edit, delete or download them.

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Select the campaign or the ad group that includes the negative keywords that you'd like to edit, delete or download.
  2. Select the Keywords tab.
  3. Scroll down to find the negative keywords section below the main keywords table. Expand the section by clicking the +Negative keywords link.
  4. You'll see two tables: "Ad group level" and "Campaign level".

Follow these steps to edit your negative keywords:

  1. Select the checkboxes next to the negative keywords that you'd like edit.
  2. Click Edit in the "Ad group level" table or the "Campaign level" table. Make your changes to each individual negative keyword in the boxes that appear. Select a match type from the drop-down menu in order to change each negative keyword's match type.
  3. Click Save.

Follow these steps to delete your negative keywords:

  1. Select the checkboxes next to the negative keywords that you'd like to delete.
  2. Click Delete in the "Ad group level" table or the "Campaign level" table.

Follow these steps to download your negative keywords:

  1. Select the checkboxes next to the negative keywords that you'd like to download.
  2. Click Download in the "Ad group level" table or the "Campaign level" table.
  3. You'll see a "Download and schedule report" section. Enter a name for your report in the "Report name" box. Select a format for your file from the "Format" drop-down menu.
  4. Click Create.
Exclude keywords ("Display Network only" campaigns)

You can limit the visibility of your ads on the Google Display Network by excluding keywords. When you exclude keywords from your campaign or ad group, AdWords avoids showing your ads on Display Network sites that contain those terms.

Your negative keywords don’t have to be comprehensive. For example, to prevent ads from showing on placements about wine glasses, adding the negative keyword -wine should do the trick. An exception to this is compound keywords, like “baby spinach”. If you were to just use the negative keyword –baby, your ad might still appear on pages that contain the term “baby spinach” because the meaning changes when “baby” and “spinach” are combined.

If you exclude keywords from an ad group with placements, your ads will be less likely to appear on placements about the excluded keywords that you've selected. However, excluded keywords aren't as precise on the Display Network as they are on search, so your ad may still occasionally appear on pages containing these terms depending on the other keywords in your ad group.

Example

Let's say that you select five different shopping websites as placements, then add the negative keyword -wine to the ad group. Your ad may appear on any of the five websites, but it will be less likely to appear on pages of those websites that are about wine glasses.

Here's how to exclude keywords:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Under your Campaigns tab, go to your Display Network tab and click + Targeting which is located above the graph.
  3. Select an ad group.
  4. Click either the “Add ad group exclusions” or “Add campaign exclusions” drop-down menu and select “Display keywords.”
  5. Add your keywords, one per line. Note: Make sure that your excluded keywords don't overlap with your regular keywords, because this will cause your ad not to show.
  6. Click Close and then Save.

Tip

Try excluding sites or categories to limit the visibility of your ads.

Get negative keyword ideas

You can run a search terms report to get negative keyword ideas. The search terms report will show you every search that resulted in your ad being triggered and clicked.

Here's how to run a search terms report:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.co.uk.
  2. Click the campaign or the ad group that you'd like to get negative keyword ideas for.
  3. Click the Keywords tab.
  4. Select the checkboxes next to the keywords that you'd like to run a search terms report for, or you can run a search terms report for all of your keywords. It's best to set the date range menu in the top corner of the page to the "Last 14 days" or "Last 30 days". That way, you should get enough information to help you choose ideas.
  5. Click the Keyword details button. Click Selected to generate the report for the keywords with marked checkboxes. Otherwise, select All to generate the report for all the keywords listed.
  6. A list of search terms will appear on the page. Check the boxes next to the keywords that you'd like to add as negative keywords, and then click the Add as negative keyword button.

    Note

    Make sure that your negative keywords don't overlap with your regular keywords, because this will cause your ad not to show.

  7. You can choose to add the negative keywords at the ad group level, or at the campaign level.
  8. Click Save.

Bear in mind

  • Choose your negative keywords carefully. If you use too many negative keywords, then your ads might reach fewer customers.
  • Your ads still might show on searches and pages that contain variations of the terms that you select as negative keywords. Your ads might still show on searches that contain only one of your negative keyword terms if your keyword terms are more than one word. Let's say you add the negative keyword "wine bottle". Your ad might still show for searches and pages that contain "stemless wine glasses", "red wine" or "glass bottle". However, you ad wouldn't show for searches on "red wine bottle", "wine bottle opener" or "bottle opener for wine".
  • We still might show your ad when someone searches for a phrase that's longer than 10 words, with your negative keyword following that 10th word. Let's say that your negative keyword is "discount". Your ad can show when someone searches for "nice clean hotel rooms in Los Angeles close to beach discount" because your negative keyword is the 11th word in the phrase. On the other hand, we won't show your ad when someone searches for "nice clean hotel rooms in Los Angeles beach views discount" because your negative keyword is the 10th word in the phrase.

Next steps