define negative keywords

The Best Use of Negative Keywords in Google Ads

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder at Pedestal Search

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder

November 11, 2022 | 5 Min Read

Article updated on January 9, 2023

Sometimes, it’s not about volume, but about cutting through the noise. There’s a huge focus on using keywords as part of an SEO strategy to target the right consumers most likely to convert. There’s a benefit to the flipside of keywords as well. What are negative keywords and how can they help you become a Google Ads specialist?

How to define negative keywords

Regular keywords target search queries a business wants to show up in. A hardware store will likely target keywords such as “hardware store near me” because it can help answer consumers’ search queries related to that. On a similar note, a negative keyword is a search term businesses can use to avoid showing up in certain search results. The same hardware store might add “hardware store jobs” as a negative keyword if they aren’t promoting job applications and want to avoid appearing in those kinds of searches where the consumer has a different intent. Using negative keywords keeps a business from showing up on search engine result pages (SERPs) that don’t have to do with their service or product offering. At the same time, negative keywords and regular keywords help further narrow when the content is displayed and will likely only display when the intent matches the result and the consumer is going to convert. Negative keywords are also helpful in terms of managing a budget. Instead of spending money on ads that are clicked on because someone’s searched an unrelated term, money can be saved only for the clicks that will convert.

Negative keyword categories

There are three subcategories that help further define negative keywords. They can be deemed a broad, phrase, or exact match keyword. A broad match means any search term remotely similar to the keyword won’t pull up the business’s copy. A phrase match means the keyword phrase will be avoided. An exact match means search queries with that exact keyword won’t generate your copy. Without leveraging negative keywords, a business’s copy can start to appear in unrelated search terms which will eventually teach Google that that’s where it should appear. This will reach the wrong audience who won’t be clicking on the result. Data like click-through rate (CTR) will begin to drop, which will eventually lead to a drop in revenue.

How can Google Ads help you advance your business goals?

Google Ads is the hub for selecting keywords and negative keywords so search results pull up the best content for the correct audience. Learn more on “how can Google Ads help you advance your business goals” through  local SEO and Google Maps ads. In terms of becoming a Google Ads specialist using negative keywords, Google Ads has a few perks. Outlining keywords and negative keywords helps narrow ad focus for a business, including creating guidelines to build content around. Instead of trying to speak to hundreds of keywords that reach too many people to connect with, Google Ads can help hone in on the keywords that will convert. This increases the chances of people clicking on an ad or search result. Negative keywords ensure the content is only displayed when the user’s intent is valuable to the business. This means the audience seeing the search results is already a warm lead and will have a higher chance of raising the CTR rate. Targeting a warm audience will lead to more visitors to the website and fewer clicks on links from uninterested parties which saves money on PPC campaigns. Overall, there will be an improved return on ad spend (ROAS).

Developing a negative keywords list

Time to start developing a negative keywords list so your business can profit and show up when it’s most relevant.
  1. Identify negative keywords from the get-go and continuously as campaigns progress.
  2. Make manual searches to find gaps and opportunities.
  3. Use Google Ads Search Term Report for additional insight into keyword research.
  4. Start adding negative keywords to the corresponding Google Ads account section.
  5. Become a Google Ads specialist!
Pedestal Search thrives on keyword research and creating the most optimized SEO strategies for various businesses. Begin leveraging your search landscape effectively—drive traffic from search terms that matter. Contact us to get started.


Digital Marketing, PPC, SEM

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder at Pedestal Search

Aaron Levenstadt

CEO & Founder

Aaron Levenstadt completed his degree in Statistical & Data Science at Stanford University. That focus has given him an unparalleled data-driven approach to search engine digital marketing. Prior to founding Pedestal Search, Aaron worked at Google at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View California. At Google he worked on the Organic Search, Paid Search and Google Analytics products, which equipped him with extensive knowledge of the mechanisms driving Google’s algorithm and other internet search engines.