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Use Negative Keywords to Save Ad Budget and Laser Focus Targeting

By Deborah Kurfiss, Umbrella Content Marketing Director on Apr 6, 2023

Have you ever done an online search that generated a whole slew of results that are just not what you are looking for? They may be in the general category, but they aren’t really relevant to your needs. Or maybe you have been shown online ads in which you have absolutely no interest? Well, so has everyone else. And if you are the one doing the advertising, this obviously wastes a lot of budget on people who are never going to click. The answer to this conundrum is negative keywords.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are words or phrases that you can designate to prevent the display of ads to users who are searching for something unrelated to your client’s products or services. In other words, when you designate negative keywords, you are giving instructions not to show ads that include that keyword in the search.

By adding them to a campaign, you can ensure that your client’s ads are only shown to people who are likely to be interested in what you are promoting, which helps to improve the overall performance of the campaign.

Let’s say you run the marketing for a high-end travel experience firm, the kind that coordinates experiences such as a helicopter flying merry-makers to the top of a glacier for an elaborate dinner with violinists, nearby penguin viewing and an overnight in stylized, spacious heated yurts. This kind of vacation experience costs money. You do not want to display your ad to backpackers or those traveling on a tight budget.

Therefore, you may want to include the negative keywords “backpacking,” “budget travel” and similar words and phrases in your campaign. You are not looking for those who love the outdoors and want to backpack around Alaska on a dime. You are looking for those who want a luxury adventure experience – and can pay for it.

Using negative keywords increases the number of your client’s ideal customers who will see their ad rather than sending the ad off to many who have no interest in what your client is selling.

What Are the Benefits of Using Negative Keywords?

There is no downside. Here are some of the pluses.

  1. Save your client’s budget: Negative keywords save your client money. You aren’t wasting your client’s advertising budget showing ads to people who will never buy from them. Needless to say, this increases your campaign ROI and makes you look good.
  2. Increase relevance: By excluding irrelevant search terms, you can increase the relevance of ads to people who are actually searching for products or services related to what your client offers. This results in higher click-through rates (CTR) and higher likelihood of conversions.
  3. Improve ad performance:  Improve ad performance by helping achieve a higher quality score and better ad positions. This is because ad platforms such as Google Ads reward advertisers who use relevant keywords and exclude irrelevant ones.
  4. Improve targeting: Refine your targeting and focus your advertising efforts on the people who are most likely to be interested in your client’s products or services. This can help you reach the target audience more effectively and efficiently.
  5. Improve user experience: By showing ads only to people who are interested in your client’s products or services, you can provide a better user experience and avoid annoying users who are searching for something unrelated to what your client is offering.

How Can I Use Negative Keywords?

Here are some steps to begin.

 Do Your Keyword Research

Before you can even begin thinking about negative keywords, you need to research the positive keywords you want to use. You want keywords that people search for in high volumes, and if possible, that are low competition with other advertisers. As always, the first place to start is Google Keyword Planner, but there are many tools for keyword research.

Now that you have determined the keywords that you want people to use to find you, you can begin identifying irrelevant search terms. Look for irrelevant search terms that are not related to your client’s product or service, but may still trigger their ads to appear.

Google gives the example that if you are an optician who sells eyeglasses, you may want to choose negative keywords such as “wine glasses” and “drinking glasses” so your ad or search result is not delivered to someone who is looking for glassware for their home rather than eyeglasses.

Add Negative Keywords to Your Campaign

Once you have identified your negative keywords, add them to your campaign. Most online advertising platforms such as Google Ads allow you to add negative keywords at the campaign, ad group or individual keyword level.

Test, Monitor and Tweak

Like everything we do in digital marketing, you must monitor the performance of your campaign, and that includes your negative keywords. Are there search terms that are still triggering the wrong results? Be on the look-out for additional negative keywords you need to add to your campaign. The more you can finely hone your negative keyword use, the more you will improve targeting and reduce unnecessary spending.

Experiment with different combinations of negative keywords to find the ones that work best for your campaign. There are different types of keywords and they work differently depending on the type of campaign you are running (for example, search results, display ads or video). Find out more in this article from Google Ads Help.

Get Started with Negative Keywords

To increase the effectiveness of your digital ad campaigns, you should be using negative keywords to optimize your client’s advertising budget, improve ad performance and provide a better user experience for a more highly refined target audience.

If you would like to discuss how Umbrella’s white label marketing services can help you help your clients in this and other capacities, contact us contact Umbrella here or call us at (866) 760-2638 set up a free consultation.





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