About keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that are used to match your ads with the terms that people are searching for.

Selecting high quality, relevant keywords for your advertising campaign can help you reach the customers that you want, when you want.

This article explains how keywords work, where your ads will show and how much they cost.

How they work

To get your ads to appear when people search for your product or service, the keywords you choose need to match the words or phrases that people search for.


If you sell frisbees, you can add "buy frisbee" as a keyword in your Google Ads campaign. When people type "buy frisbee" on Google search, your ad might appear on the search results page. In addition, your ad could also appear on websites about ultimate frisbee.

When a customer searches for a term that matches your keyword, your ad can enter an auction to determine if it will show. Learn more about the ad auction.

The cost for each keyword will be different depending on the quality of your keyword, your competition in the auction and other factors. Make sure that your keywords and landing page are all closely related to the terms that a customer might be searching for or that would appear on websites a customer would visit. To help you understand the quality for your keywords, each keyword has a Quality Score

This score is based on expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. Higher quality ads typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions. Learn how to make sure that your ads are relevant.

How to exclude searches

To prevent your ad from showing for particular searches, you can also add negative keywords.

Negative keywords can help you reduce costs by making sure that your ad shows just to the audience you want. Learn more about negative keywords.


If you sell dog clothes but your business doesn't carry any cat clothes, you can add "cat" as a negative keyword to make sure that your ad doesn't appear to people looking for cat clothes, and you can still target searches for “pet clothes”.

Where your ads appear

You can choose to target your ads to a number of different ad networks. Keywords work a bit differently on each network:

  • Google search and search partner sites: When you build your ad groups, you select keywords relevant to the terms people use when they search, so your ads reach customers precisely when they're looking for what you offer.
  • Google Display Network: If you've chosen to show ads on Display Network sites, Google Ads uses your keywords to place your ads next to content that matches your ads. Google's technology scans the content and web address of a web page and automatically displays ads with keywords that closely match the subject or web address of the page. For example, on a web page that includes brownie recipes, Google Ads might show ads about chocolate brownies or delicious dessert recipes. Learn how to choose your keywords for Display Network campaigns.
  • Google Play: When promoting your mobile app, pick keywords that are related to the ways people look for apps. Add all of the keywords that you imagine people might use. Keep in mind that Google may extend the scope of some of your keyword match types in ways that are specific to apps. For example, adding the word "app" when advertising outside of the Play network.


  • Choose your keywords carefully. Include terms or phrases that your customers would use to describe your products or services. Make sure that your keywords directly relate to the theme of your ad and the page that you're directing your customers to. Keywords of two or three words tend to work most effectively.
  • Group similar keywords.Try grouping your keywords into themes. These themes can be based on your products, services or other categories. For example, if you sell rings, you can have a group of keywords for "engagement rings" and another group of keywords for "wedding rings". Then you can create separate ad groups for these groups of keywords and have specific ads for "engagement rings" and specific ads for "wedding rings".
  • Pick the right number of keywords. Most advertisers find it useful to have somewhere between 5 and 20 keywords per ad group.
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