Ask the Experts: Intro to Negative Keyword Match Types

June 26, 2018



Hi everybody, thanks so much for joining us for today’s second installment of “Ask the Experts.” My name is Erin Sagin, and I’ll be walking you through today’s question.

So today we’ll be focusing on negatives. Negatives are hugely, hugely impactful to an AdWords account, and everybody out there should be using them. Negatives are important because they’re going to help you cut wasted spend, and eliminate unqualified traffic from seeing your ads.

The way this works is that if you set a word as a negative keyword, Google will understand that if anybody types that in a search query, they’re not a good fit for your business and it will prevent your ad from showing.

So let me give you an example. I have a client, her name is Kimmy, she sells cakes down in Baltimore. She sells every kind of cake you can imagine; birthday cakes, anniversary cakes, wedding cakes. The only type of cake that she doesn’t sell is crab cakes – but this is a huge issue for her, living in Baltimore where people are always searching for crab cakes, so it seems.

One day, I was looking through Kimmy’s Search Query report, and as we were looking through it, we started to notice she was getting a lot of impressions, and even clicks, for people looking for crab cake restaurants. So, we used negatives to take action on this, and eliminate it from happening again in the future.

One thing that I want to make clear to everyone out there is that not all negatives are created equally. They all work a little bit differently. Just like with regular keywords, there’s a concept of negative keyword match types. So just like with regular keywords, you have broad, phrase, and exact, same thing goes for negative keywords. Let me explain how each of these work.

So we’ll start with a negative broad match keyword. The way a negative broad match keyword works is, let’s take an example – crab cakes. If we set “crab cakes” to a negative broad match, any query that contains both “crab” and “cakes” will not trigger your ad to show. So, for example, if somebody types in, “crab and shrimp cakes” – because “crab” and “cakes” both appear within the search query – your ad won’t be triggered.

The next level is a phrase match negative. This works very similarly to a regular phrase match keyword. The only time it will serve as a negative is if “crab cakes,” as an intact phrase, appears within the search query. So if somebody types in “where can I buy blue crab cakes,” then my ad won’t show because “crab cakes” appeared as a phrase match.

And finally, the last and least common negative to use is an exact match negative. With an exact match negative, your ad will not be triggered to show if somebody types in that exact negative keyword. So that person would have to type in “crab cakes” in order for that ad to not show on Google.

If you guys have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out – I know negative match types can get a little bit confusing, but they’re really, really important to master because it is going to have a huge impact on how these negatives interact with keywords and search queries in your account.

As always, we’re happy to add more questions to the “Ask the Experts” series. Please don’t hesitate to send your questions to us via Twitter at @WordStream, or directly to me at @ErinSagin. You can also comment below!




Erin Sagin

Erin Sagin is the Global SMB Solutions Go To Market Lead at Google.