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How to add negative keywords to an existing Google Ads campaign

Negative keywords are words and phrases that prevent your ads from appearing when users search on these specific terms. Here's a detailed guide on how to set them correctly.

Why is it important:

Google Ads campaigns can be extremely powerful tools for businesses to draw in more customers and generate more leads. However, without proper optimization, it can also lead to wasted money and resources. One of the best ways to optimize a Google Ads campaign is by using negative keywords. Negative keywords help you filter out unwanted clicks from your campaigns, improving their overall performance and making sure that only people who are actually interested in your services or products are getting targeted.

Negative keywords are words and phrases that prevent your ads from appearing when users search on these specific terms. These help to narrow down your target audience, as well as save money on click costs by screening out unqualified clicks on your ads. For example, if you’re a shoe store selling athletic running shoes, you may want to use “high heels,” “dress shoes,” etc., as negative keywords so that users searching those terms won’t see your ad while they look up information about them. This helps you reach only potential customers who would be interested in what you have to offer.

In addition to saving money on clicks that wouldn’t have ended up converting anyway, using negative keywords also allows you to focus more of your budget toward qualified leads with a higher chance of converting into customers. And because many of the competing businesses will be targeting the same audience with generic ads targeting dozens of different topics or searches, negative keyword use will help ensure that yours stands out among the rest and make sure it reaches people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Things required before you start:

  • You should have an existing personal Google account with the necessary login information (email address, password).
  • You need to have an already set Google Ads account, and if you haven’t done it yet, then follow our guide to do so.
  • You should have active campaigns on your Google search ads account, and if you haven’t launched one yet, then follow our guide to do so.

Steps to add negative keywords to an existing Google Ads campaign

Step 1: Go to the Google Ads website.

And click on the Sign In button at the top right corner of the screen.

You need to be logged in to your Google account associated with the ads account you are trying to access to be able to successfully log in in the next step.

accessing the Google ads website

Note: If you have multiple Google ads accounts already set on your Google account, then you will see the following screen after you click on “Sign In” and click on the Google ads account that you want to log into.

selecting the Google ads account

If you have only one Google ads account associated with your Google profile, you will be automatically logged into the account after you click on “Sign In” in Step -1.

Step 2: On the left menu panel, expand the menu item “Campaigns”, and from the sub-menu, click on “Campaigns” again.

Accessing the Google ads campaign

From the list of campaigns that open up, click on the Campaign for which you want to add the negative keywords.

Select the campaign

Step 3: On the left menu panel, click on “Keywords” to expand the sub-menu, and from there, click on “Negative Keywords”.

Go to Negative keywords section

Step 4: On the next screen, click on the “+” button to start adding the negative keywords for the campaign/ad groups.

Add negative keywords

Step 5: Select the option for adding new negative keywords; next, from the dropdown, select the level to which you want to add the negative keywords, i.e., you can add them at a campaign level or at the ad group level.

Ensure that the correct Campaign or Ad Group is selected.

Add a list of negative keywords

Step 6: In the next segment, provide the list of negative keywords. Each keyword to be added should be in a separate line.

Negative keywords list

Use the necessary identifiers to give the required matching style to the keywords.

  1. Provide just the keyword if you want it to match in a “broad” way. i.e., if you give “shoes” as a broad match type negative keyword, your ad will not appear when someone searches for “shoe store near me” or “red sneakers”; in short, it won’t appear for any synonyms or replaceable terms.
  2. Provide the keyword within double quotes (“”) to identify it as a “phrase match type”. When using phrase match for negative keywords, your ad will not be shown when someone’s query includes the exact phrase or close variations of the words. For example, if you select “old shoes” as a phrase match negative keyword, your ad will not be displayed when someone searches for “used shoes for men” but will be displayed when they search for “shoes for old men”.
  3. Provide the keyword within [] to identify it as an “exact match type”. Exact match negative keywords are the most specific type of negative keyword and will ensure that your ad is not shown when someone’s search query matches exactly, even if other words are included. For example, if you provide [shoes] as a negative keyword, then your ad will not show up for “shoes for men” but will show up for “sneakers for men”.

Step 7: Once done, click on the “Save” button to proceed.

Save the list of negative keywords

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