Negative keywords help you to improve targeting and ROI in online advertising. By using negative keywords you can make sure that certain words or phrases don’t trigger an ad being shown on a SERP or website.

Jaan Kanellis has published a new guide called ‘The Plain-English Guide to Negative Keywords’.


Kanellis says, “When you make a negative keyword list, don’t go overboard. You don’t want to drastically reduce the reach of your ads because of a huge list of restricted words. Search terms should be similar to your keywords, but make distinctions your keywords don’t.

For example, if you’re selling sunglasses and your keyword is “glasses,” think about the subcategories that are attached, like water glasses and eye glasses. Those are negative keywords to add to your list, but “bifocals” and “cute glasses” probably don’t need to be excluded — they can still fit under the “sunglasses” category.

There are three types of negative keywords: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.

Let’s talk about when to use each.

  • Negative broad match — Negative broad match keywords prevent your ad from being shown if the query contains all negative search words. However, if only a few of those words are in the query, your ad still may be shown. If your negative keywords fit in no other category, they’ll be considered negative broad match”.

The Plain-English Guide to Negative Keywords

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