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Google Ads Management: Negative Keywords

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More about this video

This video kicks off a series of videos on Google Ads management. This one covers **Negative Keywords**.

Negative keywords are basically keywords that you want to *stop* targeting. When you add a negative keyword, Google will stop showing your ad when that keyword is typed in.

This is one of the most important parts of Google ads management because it gets rid of all the junk keywords that waste your budget. 

In this video you’ll learn all about negative keywords, keyword match types for negative keywords, and how to create & manage negative keywords lists.

Note: Negative keyword lists can only be assigned at the campaign level (stupid). If you want to add negative keywords to a single ad group, you can still do that by going to the negative keywords tab for the ad group and assigning them there individually.

I usually start with lists and then add more granular refinement using certain negative keywords at the ad group level.

This step in your Google Ads management process should be repeated often. 1 to 2 times per week for large accounts, every 2 weeks minimum for smaller accounts.

Video Transcript

Welcome to the first video in a series of videos on how to do basic Google PPC management and optimization. We’re going to talk about negative keywords in this tutorial. Negative keywords is a super important part of PPC management and optimization. Let’s go ahead and dive into the dashboard. Take a look at what’s happening Google ads because before we talk about negative keywords, I do want to update you on a couple things. Number one, I cleaned up this area over here and I added agency-related keywords. This is basically a campaign targeting like web design company, web design firm, web design agency, web designer near me, those kinds of things. Whereas you remember web design is targeting more generic, like I’m looking for web design as a service or web development as a service and all variations of those. These are variations on I’m looking for a company, a firm, an ER, a developer, a designer, an agency, etc. That’s basically one thing that I added that I think is important for you to know and it’s got all of its keyword targeting in here.

Then we have web design, just kind of a quick review, professional web design, web design development, yada yada yada, then just strict web development terms. One thing I do want to point out here is that when you first glance at these things and this is going to be a problem, I’m going to set this back to the default. This is going to be a problem when we go to look for negative keyword opportunities and I’m going to explain what negative keywords are in just a second. By default, Google shows you only 10 things in a list and it’s a really, really bad UX in my experience because if you don’t realize that’s happening because also the trigger for how many things you want to see is way below the fold. You don’t really see it as your options. It really should be up here somewhere, but nevertheless, I want you to know that’s there because here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to click into a tab and you can do this at the campaign level or you can do this at the ad group level. We’re going to do a tab called search terms.

I typically do this at the ad group level and let me see who’s texting me. At the ad group level and here’s why. Negative keywords are keywords you want to exclude from either your ad groups or your campaigns because they’re the wrong intent. They’re just not a good search and negative keywords is an area of PPC management where you are going to have to know a little bit about SEO, a little bit about how keywords work and I have tutorials on SEO that you should go watch and specific tutorials on keywords and how to find good keywords and how to grade keywords. Make sure you’ve watched those because it really is important to this part of the process. You’re basically going to have to go through and see which terms are triggering your ads and grade them. Is that a good term or is that a bad term? Bad meaning it’s never going to lead to a conversion. It’s not what we’re doing here. It’s not what we’re trying.

It’s not the type of person we’re trying to attract to our campaigns to get them to click, to get them to come to our website. We don’t want all people. We want the right people. Thankfully, and the reason we started broad is so that Google can show us what all of our options are and then we get to choose, nope, don’t like that, yep, like that, nope, don’t like that, yep, like that and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Google is going to show you all of the phrases people are actually using that are triggering your ads and then we get to decide to exclude and when we exclude that is a negative keyword. So you have a positive keyword which tells Google, go target this. You have a negative keyword which tells Google, don’t show my ads if they type this in. Now the same way you have targeting for showing your ads, you have broad match, which that’s what we’ve done, phrase match and exact match. This is the same when you’re doing keyword research. It works exactly the same.

So if you say I want to target the phrase tennis shoes, then it’ll show ad for red tennis shoes, cheap tennis shoes, best tennis shoes, right? Because it includes the phrase tennis shoes. On the opposite side, if you exclude the phrase tennis shoes, anything red tennis shoes out, best tennis shoes out, right? You’re excluding the phrase tennis shoes. You can also do exact match and I’m going to show you how to do these both. I typically for negative keywords, very important, I typically do not do broad match for negative keywords because I don’t want Google to start guessing or experimenting with variations of that keyword to exclude my ads. I want control over when my ads get excluded. So I typically use exact match or phrase match for my exclusion. But let’s go ahead and take a look at the search terms report. Now the reason I do this at the ad group level is because I want it defined to a topic because it makes it easier for my brain to process whether the keyword is good or bad versus seeing at the campaign level, search terms across all your different campaign groups.

It’s a little bit more hectic to do it that way. So I’m going to do agency right here and what I’m going to do is click on search terms. This is the tab you want to be in and here are all of the terms that people are actually using to trigger your ads. Now here’s the thing. What range you’re looking at is very important because you’re not going to do this once. You’re going to do this. I would recommend every single week. You set an alarm. You set an alert. You set a task, whatever system you use that alerts you every week. Hey, it’s time to go in and do Google ads optimization. This is going to be one of your key optimization steps is building and adding to your negative keywords lists. So when you, now I’m doing this for the first time, right?

So I’m going to look at all time and actually let’s jump out of here. I forgot I want to do one thing before we jump into this. I wanted to show you guys just result so far because a lot of you have been asking, I’m sure a lot of you are curious like what has happened so far? Well, if you remember back in the first video crash course, all we did was set up one campaign with three ad groups. There’s an ad in it in each ad group and then we did location targeting. And that is one thing I did on my location targeting. I did different little radius circles after the first training. I went back and I did it like this and I want to show you why soon we’re going to do it like this. Okay? But what I really want to show you is that I’ve wasted, let me go to overview. I’ve wasted $648 so far and I planned on doing this tutorial a lot sooner, but I couldn’t. I was super busy doing automatic CSS and frames and agency work and so I just let this thing keep running and keep wasting money for your benefit because I knew it would collect even more data.

But ideally I would have done this much sooner because I, you know, who likes blowing $648 not many people do, but I did get a conversion guys. I got a conversion. Let me show you. I’m going to come down here to ad groups. I’ve just got it set to conversions and cost per conversion. Ad group agency converted one conversion at $174.21. Now what was the outcome of that conversion? The outcome of that conversion was we got on a discovery call and I determined that we are out of their price range and they were not a good fit. So that did not get me anywhere, but it did show us that, hey, even without a portfolio on the website, even without a dedicated landing page like we should have sending people to that. We still got a conversion and it actually gives me hope that maybe with these optimization steps, maybe we can actually dial in a working campaign when that wasn’t the goal, the goal of this campaign, I was going to blow money just to show you how to do Google ads, right?

My goal wasn’t to actually drive conversions and get business, but maybe we will. I don’t know. So at least we got something, right? We don’t have a bunch of zeros here. Now you also see why we broke things up into the ad group level. We grouped our keywords. So what I’m basically seeing is so far, web design and development are duds, but the agency related keywords are actually converting. And because they’re separated, I can see a cost per conversion for that group versus if I didn’t have them grouped, if I had lumped them all together, it basically would be telling me one lead cost me $648. But the real story is one lead cost me $174 if these other two ad groups weren’t running. If I was just running the agency group, I would have got that one lead for $174. And if that had turned into a job, I mean, you best believe, mad profit there, right? Absolutely.

I’d pay that all day for a new client, all day every day. I’d pay that 10 times, right? For a really good client, I’ll pay that 10 times even more probably. So you can see that there’s promise here at least for this ad group, maybe no promise for these two ad groups. That remains to be seen. We’re still in the very early stages. We’ve done no optimization, no management. We haven’t refined this at all. We’ve just created a dumb campaign with dumb targeting and we got something. So that gives us hope, right? It’s promising. Okay, let’s jump back into what we were supposed to be doing in this video all along, which is negative keywords. So I’m going to go back to agency.

I’m going to go to keywords. I’m going to go to search terms. And this is the list that people are actually using. And again, you look at this list and you’re like, well, that’s not very many things. Aha. Google UX strikes again. So we need to come down here to Rose 10 and show 100. And you’re going to notice there are actually 342 phrases that I have to go through and grade. And that’s why I said number one, I should have done the sooner, right? And you want to be doing this every single week. And that brings me back to when you’re doing it every single week, change your date range, right? If you did it seven days ago, then change your date range to last seven days and just see the fresh ones.

Okay. And so you can see that in the last seven days, there’s been 116 phrases that have triggered my ads. Okay. And this is actually the list we’re going to take a look at right now. Okay. So we’re going to start going down this list. Now what I typically do is I, and I need to figure out if I can change my preferences here. So because I open another screen and right now the way my preferences are set, you guys cannot see and you can’t see what I’m doing right now. Show picture and picture crosses off camera, videos, or screen sharing. Here we go. Ad margin, include mouse show, show everything when sharing the entire screen. I think that’s what I want.

But I don’t know if that’s going to click in and be relevant. Let me bring this over. What I really want to do is bring up text at it. It’s not. Okay. I’m going to delete this. Okay. So it’s not, it’s not going to let me, sorry, it’s not going to let me do two screens at once. Okay. So let’s think if there’s another way that I can do this. All right. I’m just, I’m just going to use the old method. Typically what I do, just to explain it is I bring up text editor and I actually write out because I like to do phrase matches and exact matches and then just copy and paste it into a list for various different reasons.

But I think we can do it. We can do it like this and make it work. Okay. So let’s start. Create a social media website free. Do you think that applies? No, it does not apply. Okay. So actually, we’re not going to be able to do it this way. We’re going to have to bounce. All right. We’re going to have to do the text edit thing. All right. So I’m going to bring up this notepad and I’m going to show you how I actually do this. And why isn’t this doing this?

I don’t. Okay. It had a weird window up. All right. This is once again, Google, you’re killing me. All right. So we’re going to go search terms, agency related search terms. Okay. We’re back. So I’m just going to have to remember that when I’m in my notepad, that’s all you guys can see and I’m going to have to click back into here so that you guys can see this. All right. So create a social media website free. I’m going to obviously say that this is no, but I have to determine how I want to get rid of this.

Do I want to do an exact match or do I want to find a phrase in here that will allow me to exclude lots of these types of searches? And I’m just going to type in free website or website free. All right. We’re going to do that. So we’re going to take out and the way you do it is with quotations. If you want to do a phrase match, I’m doing a phrase match exclusion. Basically, I’m saying any phrase that includes the words free website in that order free website or website free. I want to exclude. Okay. Now I’m going to bounce back. Atlanta web design company. That is right on, right on digital solutions. Oh, now let me explain something else because I don’t have a lot of data and we’re in the early stages of this.

I’m doing intent based exclusions, which means I’m looking at the keywords and determining their intent and whether to exclude them or not. The more refined a campaign gets, you’re going to start to only have keywords that actually seem really good because you’ve excluded all the bad ones. And then it comes down to data. So then what you’re going to find is certain keywords, even though they appear good, they just have too high of a cost per conversion. Or they’re just draining our budget way too much and we want to make sure that we stop targeting those or we can bid adjust them down and so on and so forth. But I’m not looking at data right now. Basically, what I wanted to explain is I’m not really looking at data right now because we’re at such an early stage that I can just go through and exclude lots of these because I already know the intent is garbage and I just don’t want to be targeting it. I know based on experience and SEO experience too, that this is just never going to convert to anything.

So I can exclude it. I don’t have to worry about data. But when it gets to a point where all of these seem pretty good, then I start looking at the data and excluding ones that are way too costly and I start adjusting ones that are still maybe and the really good ones I want to bid adjust up and so on and so we’ll get there when we get there. But right now we’re just doing negative keywords, which means get rid of it all together. All right, so Atlanta Web Design Company want to keep digital solutions. I don’t think that could be a brand name by the way, but it could just be a very generic term. Digital solutions. I want to exact match that away. Digital solutions. If you want to exact match something away, you put it in brackets. All right, so we’re going to come back.

Website developer, yes, Website development company, yes, Squarespace website developer. Guys, I don’t want anything that involves the word Squarespace. It’s not going to apply to me. So I’m going to put that in quotes as a phrase match exclusion. All right, so Atlanta SEO. Well that’s for my SEO campaign, but it’s not for my Web Design and Development campaign. And I have Web Design and Development related ads. They don’t say anything about SEO. So for this campaign, remember, we’re doing a keywords list for this campaign. For this campaign, this is not relevant. So I’m going to do an exact match of Atlanta SEO. All right, Atlanta Web Designer. Good, fine. Average costs for Web site design for small business. Anything related to cost, and here’s a good side tangent lesson.

This process of going through and doing negative keywords is actually going to teach you or give you ideas, I should say, for other things, other angles you should take with both your SEO, your content marketing, and your PPC. So I don’t think that the cost searches, like average cost of a Web site design, how much is a Web Design cost, all of that. I don’t think they’re good for this campaign, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re good in general. And I haven’t thought previously to create a campaign around what is a Web site cost. I may create a really good article, and then I may create a video all detailing like, what does a average Web site cost, and why does it cost the way that it costs? So what goes into the cost? Very educational, very nurturing, right? Very trust building. Create an article, create a video, put the video in the article, run ads to the article. I could very easily do that.

And this gave me the idea, right? I’m looking here at all these searches that you’re going to see related to cost. That gives me an idea. Hey, all these people are wondering this. Why don’t I jump in? And they’re in my area, right? Because I’m doing location targeting. These are all people in my locations that I’m targeting. Why don’t I jump in? And I put that information in front of them. Maybe I can build their trust. Maybe I can convert them. But that’s going to be a separate campaign. That’s not for this campaign. So for this campaign, I want to exclude anything related to cost.

All right? So now we’re going to come in, and we’re going to see best Web design schools. I’m not a school. So I’m going to exclude school. I’m going to exclude the plural schools. I’m not a school. It’s not what we’re doing here. Best Web design niches. So I’m going to do Web design niche. Web design niches. I don’t really care about those. Best WordPress developers. That’s good. Black Web designers. OK, I didn’t expect to see that one.

I’ll be honest with you. Didn’t expect that to be in the list. I’m not black. I don’t identify as black. So I’m going to go ahead. Don’t cancel me. I am going to exclude this term. All right, so we have Black Web designers. And I’m going to have to do the singular as well. OK? Build Web site. Very generic. Very generic. So I’m not sure. And this is where we’re going to let this play out and collect more data.

And maybe Google will exclude some of these automatically, because if they realize it’s not getting clicks, it’s not getting conversions. They’ll eventually exclude this stuff. But I want to give this one a little bit more time. Just maybe it picks up some steam. I don’t know. Excuse me. Business Web site builder. No good. OK, so we’re going to go. Anything that includes the phrase Web site builder in general, they’re looking for an oxygen or a wix or a square space. I don’t really care to have my ads shown there. Sheep Web site designer.

OK, well, anything that involves the word cheap is going to be a no go. So I’m just going to put cheap as a general exclusion. Contact us quotes for Web site. Don’t know why somebody would type that in. Why would you type that in? That’s a terrible search. But I can’t exclude it because I don’t know. I don’t have enough information. Cost of Web site design. All these cost ones are automatically going to get excluded now. Creative Atlanta. I’m going to do that as a general exact match. Creative Atlanta. I don’t know if that’s just someone searching very broad, or if that’s maybe a brand name for an agency or something.

I don’t know. Creative House. I don’t that’s not a term that my people would use. Developer newsletter. What in the world? Let’s just exclude anything that involves newsletter. Workshops. OK, we’re not going to do that. Developers, developer communities, developers, communities. What? I don’t understand. Ecommerce website designers. So I’m going to do ecommerce and ecommerce like this. OK, thank you auto correct. I don’t need you auto correcting me.

All right, ecommerce website designers. Elevate web. That’s probably a brand. And I do want to show up when people search for my competitors. So I’m going to leave it. Entry level web design jobs. Jobs. OK, job. I don’t know if a job exclusion. I’m just going to do jobs plural. OK, find web. My sorry, my nose is itching. Find website developer. Find website developer. Front end company.

Front end company. OK, I’m going to leave them. Front end developer. Internship. There we go. I’m looking for themes too. Where I know like there’s a keyword that’s going to show up in all these different phrases. And if that keyword is there, I don’t want it, right? Like I’m not interested in internships. Google business website builder. Well, that’s going to get excluded by their website builder phrase match exclusion. Graphic design Atlanta. I’m going to let these play out.

Sometimes these will convert for web design. So I’ll let those play out. Squarespace is going to get excluded. Home page company. Why would you type that in? How much do people charge to make websites? That goes to the cost thing. How much does it cost? Yeah, how much does it cost? See the theme? How much to charge for web design? Charge for web design like that. I want to exclude that. How to. Oh, God, I hope I’ve been clicking back and forth properly.

I hope you guys aren’t just looking at notepad the entire time. How much does it cost? How to start a web design business. Start A. How to start? I’m going to do how to start. OK, any phrase that says how to start? All right, HubSpot, CMS developer, anything related to HubSpot? I’m not a HubSpot guy. So we’re not going to need that. Logo and website design, marketing agency, media linkers, passionate developer, professional web designers. This guy is getting you can get some ideas for headlines, by the way, when you’re doing some of this too. I already said you can get ideas for maybe other campaigns you want to run.

You can also get ideas for headlines. I mean, maybe a lot of people care if the web designer is passionate or the developer. You could test that out in a headline, for sure. SEO services. All right, so I’m going to exclude SEO services. I’ll exclude SEO service as well. Remember, it’s not that I don’t want those people. I just want them in a different campaign. I don’t want them in this campaign, because it muddies what we’re trying to do here with this campaign. All right, Shopify. I don’t want anything related to Shopify. Shopify is gone.

I just know off the top of my head, Wix is going to be gone. We already did Squarespace. OK, Silver Connect web design. That’s a competitor, probably, software developer. I’m not a software developer. So software developer is going to be gone. I can also do software developers. And Speak Creative, that’s probably a competitor. Squarespace has already been nixed. Subscription web design. Interesting. Serial marketing tech website. Think web tech website.

Tech website. I’m just going to do an exact match exclusion on tech website. Director, now I’m seeing a lot of competitors. Costs are already done. Subscription model. Yeah, web design. Fiverr. Fiverr. Gone. Quit auto correcting me. All right, web designer salary. I don’t care anything about salary. Do we already exclude that somewhere? I don’t think we did. OK, we’re almost done, guys.

I’m going to start going a little faster here. Website build cost already excluded. Website creation India. OK, sorry, India. But that’s not what we do here. So I’m excluding anything that says India in it. Again, don’t cancel me. Please, I want to stay. I want to keep doing this for you guys. Website quote, wix developer. Wix website consultant. We already see. Already knew wix was coming. Black owned web designers. We’re going to do black owned.

Don’t cancel me, guys. Don’t cancel me. Just doing my job here. Bob Hansen website builder. So I deal with that is CSS HTML, square space. OK, all right. I think we’re good. So what we’re going to do is copy this list that I just created. And we’re going to come up here. And we are going to go to negative keywords. Now there’s two places you can do this. You can do this right here, or you can go to tools and settings, shared library, negative keywords, lists. OK, do this either place doesn’t matter. Hit the plus sign.

Add a negative keywords or create a new list. And you’re going to say add this to the campaign. We’re doing a campaign level list here. And I am going to do all of those keywords that I just made in my notepads. I’m just pasting them in. And then you have to click this box to make a new list. So click that. If you don’t have a list yet, you need to click this box. If you want to add to an existing list, it’s a little bit different process. But this is the way to do it here. I typically would go to negative keywords lists, and then click on the list that’s there, and then add to it.

That’s typically the easiest way to do it. You can also do it through here. I actually think this is more straightforward. So I’m going to say web design and development, paste all of my keywords, and then just hit save. OK, before saving, keywords cannot contain non-standard characters like exclamation mark at comma. What would ones do? Not? Oh. No. Which ones are wrong? Let’s take these out for a second and it’s safe. OK, it’s not liking something in here. Website free, Squarespace cost schools, schools, web design niche, house newsletter workshops.

It can’t possibly be this dash in e-commerce. Can’t possibly be that. I know it’s not these things down here. So come on, man. I’m going to take out e-commerce, let’s see. No. Oh, it doesn’t like the quotes I was using. Because they’re like, oh gosh. All right. It’s never done that to me before. All right, I think that’s what it’s saying. I think it doesn’t like these curly quotes, which are just using normal quotes. But I bet what happened is, in fact, let me do this. Can I taste special?

Oh, geez Louise. All right. OK, I’ve reformatted this. I’ve replaced the fancy curly quotes with regular straight quotes. And we’re going to see if this works. So I’m going to hit save. I left that in there, see it worked. I left that in there in case you all run into that problem. I’ve never run into that problem before. Crazy. But yeah. So that happened. Anyway, after you add your list, you need to apply it to a campaign.

And again, because Google is horrible UX, you would think it would show the campaigns you would want to add it to. But no, you have to click this button. This is apply to campaigns, even though you haven’t really selected anything yet. And then it comes up in a modal. So you select the campaign, you want to assign it to, and now you hit done. And it’s now assigned that list to that campaign. And if you go over to the campaign, and you go to keywords, negative keywords, you’ll see that there is a list assigned to this campaign. Now, you are still free to assign negative keywords to this campaign.

With outside of this list, so that list will stay there, then you can use manual, negative keywords if you want to or need to for whatever reason. You’re also still free, even though this is campaign level exclusion, you can go in and find keywords that you only want to exclude, potentially, at the ad group level, and add them there. And it’ll still be excluding the list, but it can also exclude these negative keywords only for this ad group. So that is pretty good too. OK, so the next thing you would want to do, kind of explain the process. You saw me go through it. You’ve created your list.

You want to now do that for web design. You want to do it for web development so that both of those have exclusions as well. You can get all those in there. And now you’ve refined this. And so now the goal is it’s going to start showing your ads to less junk searches, which means more relevant searches. This is what your budget is being spent on. More relevant searches, typically, means more conversions and lower conversion cost and things like that. This is one layer of optimization. And again, set a reminder for yourself. Set a task every single week you need to be going in, looking at the latest lists of search terms that have triggered your ads and add to your negative keywords list.

Refine your ad groups and your campaigns further. The more you do this, the better the campaign will get over time. And again, this is one layer of Google Ads Management. There are many more layers of Google Ads Management that we’re going to be doing in future tutorials. I don’t think there’s anything else I need to cover in this tutorial. I want you guys to log into your account if you’re testing alongside with me. Go create your first negative keywords list. If you’re looking at the search phrases and you’re like, I don’t know, is it good? Is it bad? How do I determine the intent? Number one, make sure you’ve watched my SEO trainings on keyword intent.

Number two, post in the group and ask people, right? Make sure you give them the context, though. Here’s what I’m trying to target. Here’s the people I would like to get. Here’s the search terms they’re using. Would you exclude this? Would you leave it and let it collect more data? What would you do? And we’ll be able to jump in and help you out. But this was a tutorial on negative keywords. We got phrase match and exact match keyword lists and using intent to exclude keywords. And then also in the future, you’ll be able to use data to either exclude keywords completely or bid a just up or down specific keywords, which will get to that in a future video.

All right, guys, that’s it for this training. If you have questions, we’re happy to help you out. Thank you.