How To Get Rid Of Irrelevant Searches In Your Google Ads Campaign

By Leah Grice | Published 09/11/2020

Do you know what search terms your ads are actually showing for? With the use of broad and phrase match and with exact match now showing for variants, there are many different terms your ads could show for. But are they all relevant to your business? Find out more about how to find irrelevant search terms, the best ways to eliminate these and the latest changes Google has made which may make these harder to find moving forward.

Finding your irrelevant searches

You should start by looking at your Google Ad search terms report. It shows the actual word or phrases the different users have put into Google resulted in your ad being shown.

As you browse the report, you may spot some search terms that are related to, but aren’t exactly, what you offer. Identifying and determining search terms that are not related to your business can help you better manage your campaigns.

Here is a step by step guide on how you can find your search term data.

  • Open your Google Ads home page account. (If you manage different accounts, ensure you open the correct account of whose data you want to look at. This can be found at the left hand top of the page)
  • On the left hand side of the page you will find a grey menu bar in which you click ‘Keywords’
  • Once you have clicked into ‘Keywords’ you will find further drop down options in which you click ‘Search terms’

Manage your keywords based on search terms data

Removing irrelevant keywords can have a positive impact on your performance. Adding these unrelated keywords to your negative keywords list can help you avoid showing your ad to people who aren’t interested in it and saving you money on your campaigns.

For example if you sell spectacles, and you see that the search term ‘wine glasses’ is triggering your ads, you might want to add ‘wine’ as a negative keyword.

Before we go into how to add negative keywords, we’re going to first discuss the different types of negative keywords you can add.

Know your negative keyword match type

There are three types of negative keywords: broad, phrase, and exact. We recommend mainly using broad and phrase match, but we will go into a little more detail about them all.

The negative keyword for this example is ‘Sales books’. TRUE meaning the ad will be shown and FALSE meaning the ad won’t be shown.

 

Search term Broad Phrase Exact 
Sales books FALSE FALSE FALSE 
Business books TRUE TRUE TRUE 
Sales and marketing books FALSE TRUE TRUE 
Books salesFALSE TRUETRUE
Sales book TRUETRUETRUE

 

Negative broad

A negative broad match keyword, as Google defines it is, “a keyword setting that allows you to exclude your ad for searches where every word, in any order, of your keyword phrase appears in the search.”

If a keyword is negative broad, then your ad will not show anytime the entire term is used within a search query. When used correctly, this can filter out a lot of different variations of your negative keyword.

Negative phrase

A negative phrase match keyword, as Google defines it is “a keyword setting that allows you to exclude your ad for searches that include the exact keyword phrase”. Searches may include additional words, and the ad won’t show as long as the keywords are included in the search in the same order.

A negative keyword is designated as a phrase match when quotations are used around the phrase. Keep in mind that if someone searches for only one of the terms in your selected phrase, your ad will still appear.

Negative exact

A negative exact match keyword, as Google defines it is “a keyword setting that allows you to exclude your ad for searches of the exact keyword phrase – without extra words. Your ad may still show for searches that include the keyword phrase with additional words.

Keep in mind that this match type will eliminate very little traffic as it only excludes searches for the exact term in the order they are used, which is why we previously recommended only using negative broad match and negative phrase match.

Adding negative keywords at campaign level vs ad group level

There are specific reasons why it is important to put negative keywords at the adgroup level or the campaign level. If you have multiple campaigns running, you’ll have to add new negative keywords to each of your campaigns. Instead, you can create negative keyword lists to save you the hassle of adding your negative keyword to multiple campaigns and use a negative keyword list that allows you to share negative keywords between campaigns.

If you put negative keywords at the ad group level and then choose a specific ad group you’ll only be keeping the campaign within that ad group from being shown for these negative keywords. However if you add negative keywords at the campaign level you will keep your ads from being shown.

Adding negative keywords

Here is a step by step guide on how to add negative keywords to your list:

  • Open your Google Ads home page account. (If you manage different accounts, ensure you open the correct account of whose data you want to look at. This can be found at the left hand top of the page)
  • On the left hand side of the page you will find a grey menu bar in which you click ‘Keywords’
  • Once you have clicked into ‘Keywords’ you will find further drop down options in which you click ‘Negative keywords’
  • Click on the blue add sign to add your negative keywords
  • Using the click down arrow choose to add your negative keywords to either a campaign or ad group and to the left you can select what campaign or add group you wish to add your negative keywords to
  • Enter or paste your negative keywords, one per line and save

Google reduces visibility in search terms report

In early September 2020, Google Ads announced that the search terms report would disclose fewer user queries. The explanation from Google is to “maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data.”

The new update means you could be paying for some completely irrelevant searches because you won’t be able to exclude them due to them not being identified on the search term report.

How often should I update my negative keyword list?

This will depend on the amount of data you get, we’d recommend at least weekly, but if you’re spending a lot you may want to look at this more regularly. The earlier you spot them the more money you save. You shouldn’t be worried about how many keywords you’re adding. If they are irrelevant, they’re irrelevant and you can add up to 10,000!

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