What is negative keywords?

Negative keywords can help you reach the most interested customers, reduce your costs, and increase your return on investment (ROI). When you add terms as negative keywords (available for “Search Network only,” “Search Network with Display Select,” and “Search & Display Networks” campaigns) or as keyword exclusions (for “Display Network only” campaigns), your ad won’t show to people searching for those terms or visiting sites that contain those terms.

With negative keywords, you can:

  • Prevent your ad from showing to people searching for or visiting websites about things you don’t offer.
  • Show your ads to people who are more likely to click them.
  • Reduce costs by excluding keywords where you might be spending money but not getting a return.

When you select negative keywords, you’ll want to choose search terms that are similar to your keywords, but signal that people are looking for a different product.

Example

Let’s say you’re an optometrist who sells glasses. You’d want to prevent your ad from showing to someone searching for or visiting webpages that contain terms like “wine glasses” and “drinking glasses,” since that person isn’t likely to buy a pair of your eyeglasses.

Keep in mind

  • Choose your negative keywords carefully. If you use too many negative keywords, then your ads might reach fewer customers.
  • Your ads still might show on searches and pages that contain variations of the terms that you select as negative keywords. Your ads might still show on searches that contain only one of your negative keyword terms if your keyword terms are more than one word. Let’s say you add the negative keyword “wine bottle.” Your ad might still show for searches and pages that contain “stemless wine glasses,” “red wine,” or “glass bottle.” However, your ad wouldn’t show for searches on “red wine bottle” or “wine bottle opener.”
  • We still might show your ad when someone searches for a phrase that’s longer than 10 words and your negative keyword follows that 10th word. Let’s say your negative keyword is “discount.” Your ad can show when someone searches for “nice clean hotel rooms in Los Angeles close to beach discount” because your negative keyword is the 11th word in the phrase. On the other hand, we won’t show your ad when someone searches for “nice clean hotel rooms in Los Angeles beach views discount” because your negative keyword is the 10th word in the phrase.