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UKExpertDigital Blog

Google Adwords: Broad Match and Negative Keywords

How Negative Keywords play an important role to every Google Adwords campaign

May 10, 2022


Google Adwords

The Importance of Negative Keywords

As Digital Marketers, the importance of identifying Negative Keywords can be overlooked. Google Adwords often recommends using “broad match” for your keywords which poses its advantages and disadvantages. Nonetheless, if “broad match” or “phrase match” keywords are used, a Negative Keywords list becomes a crucial tool for marketers within Adwords.

• One clear advantage of “broad match” is that this opens your search up to a broader audience and will capture different variations of search terms that you have not included in your keywords list

• A huge disadvantage is that you may be opening yourself up to irrelevant search terms for your brand. Therefore, your negative keyword list become essential to your Adwords campaign and should be checked daily.

We go into more detail about the advantages and disadvantages of using “broad match”, and how Negative Keywords are useful, later in this article. If your Negative Keywords aren’t checked daily, Google may start focusing on keywords that are popular search terms which may be completely irrelevant to your brand however, includes an important keyword in the search. When using “broad match”, monitoring Negative Keywords is crucial to PPC account management and if done correctly, can cut unnecessary costs and increase your click-through rate (CTR).

Google Adwords

Why Should You Have a Negative Keyword List?

By excluding irrelevant phrases, sentences, or keywords in relation to your keyword means that you’re preventing your ads for being put in front of audiences that doesn’t match your criteria, which in return avoids unnecessary costs to your campaign.

For example, if you looked at the keyword ‘blue shirts’ for “broad match” (as you sell apparel), there are many variations in which someone may search for a “blue shirt” i.e – navy blue shirt, blue long sleeve t-shirt, small blue shirts, cheap blue shirt. Out of those examples, you may not sell long sleeve t-shirts – then “long t-shirts” can be added to your Negative Keywords list to prevent your adverts from being served to audiences searching for that keyword.

Negative Keywords can either be set at campaign level or ad group level – meaning that if you have more than one ad group, you may find some keywords are relevant for one ad group versus another – therefore you have the ability to only exclude from a particular Ad Group. Or you can add a Negative Keyword list at campaign level if it applies to all campaigns.

Let’s delve into one of the points mentioned before which is CTR (Click through rate). CTR is the ratio of clicks you get out of the number of impressions your ad is served (displayed). The goal is to get many “relevant” clicks for the ads you have displayed by your intended audience. However, without adding a Negative Keywords list, you’re at risk of receiving unwanted clicks which will result in a bounce on your website and a cost to your campaign.

A Negative Keywords list isn’t needed if you’re running “exact match” keywords only. Having a Negative Keyword list would be conflicting and counter productive in this case.

Google Adwords

Advantages and Disadvantages of using "broad match" terms

Other advantages and disadvantages of using “broad match” on Google Adwords, other than picking up potential irrelevant keywords, are:

- ADVANTAGE: Turning your keywords into “broad match” shouldn’t be overlooked as this can open the opportunity of reaching a wider audience than “phrase” and “exact” match offers.

- ADVANTAGE: Analyse your performance data (search terms) to identify potential search terms/keywords that can be added to your campaign. Add them to your relevant ad groups to encourage Google to focus on keywords that may be missing to improve performance.

- DISADVANTAGE: Google will recommend you to use broad match and even give you a higher optimisation score for using “broad match” keywords – however only use this option if you feel that it’s needed to improve your campaign performance. Check the types of keywords Google are showing that show up for a “broad match” and if this shows it reaches relevant keywords to your brand, then go for it! You will need to keep your Negative Keywords list up to date to keep on top of campaign performance, however.

- DISADVANTAGE: It will likely affect your ad relevancy. If you don’t keep on top of your Negative Keywords, Google may start targeting certain phrases that they regard as a match but could be irrelevant to your brand. Therefore, if this phrase is popular, your advert content will be irrelevant – we all know how ad relevancy is important to your PPC campaign.

- DISADVANTAGE: Unless you have set a CPC objective, you may open yourself up to a higher CPC when selecting broad match. Therefore, adding the costly keywords to your negative keywords list may be important – depending on its relevancy to the brand and whether this particular keywords provides an end goal for your business. Having a broad match setup also runs the risk of wasting budget on clicks – identify irrelevant keywords in your impressions list before they receive a click in a future search.

Overall, although we have highlighted more disadvantages than advantages, the disadvantages can all be managed via a Negative Keywords list, hence the importance of one of these to every Google Adwords campaign using “broad” and “phrase” matches. Negative Keywords allow your ads to be served to the relevant audience and drive the right traffic to your website. Keeping on top of your Negative Keywords has the potential to increase landing page relevance as your keywords should match what your landing page(s) have on display on your website – which become more exposed when using “broad match” or even “phrase match” terms.

Lilian Tsumbu

Digital Marketing Assistant




0161 236 5794