Smart Strategies for Managing Negative Keywords in Local Ad Campaigns

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Google Ads

In the ever-evolving digital marketplace, effective management of negative keywords is crucial, especially when it comes to managing negative keywords in local ad campaigns. Imagine having the power to filter out irrelevant searches, enhance ad relevance, and optimize your budget allocation. This, my friends, is the magic of negative keywords.

Key Takeaways

  • Negative keywords are essential for local businesses to optimize ad campaigns and reach the right audience.

  • Crafting a local negative keyword list requires careful research, understanding of customer needs, and utilizing tools such as search term reports.

  • Leveraging broad & phrase match types strategically can help maximize campaign performance while adjusting based on seasonal trends & industry changes increases ROI efficiency.

The Essentials of Negative Keywords for Local Businesses

A Person Managing Local Ad Campaigns On A Computer

Negative keywords play a fundamental role in local ad campaigns, including search campaigns. These powerful tools help exclude irrelevant terms, ensuring that your ads are targeted towards the most appropriate audience and not towards users with low conversion potential. Think of negative keywords as silent guardians that shield your ad spend from being squandered on irrelevant queries.

Negative keywords, like negative phrase match keyword, serve as significant tools for local businesses. They help filter out irrelevant searches, enhance ad relevance, and optimize budget allocation. Including negative keywords, like negative exact match keywords and negative phrase match keywords, in a local business’s ad campaign directs ad spend towards effective searches and enhances ad relevance, thereby optimizing the return on investment.

Understanding Local Search Intent

Grasping local search intent equates to gaining an intuitive understanding of your customers’ needs. It’s about deciphering the actual terms users input into the search engine, often referred to as search queries, and then aligning them with the words or phrases selected by advertisers for ad targeting, known as keywords.

This comprehension of local search intent fuels the creation of an initial list with commonly used generic negative keywords, ensuring their lack of relevance to your specific business. It also helps in considering industry giants to avoid showing for, and utilizing tools such as search term reports to prevent irrelevant ad placements.

Crafting Your Local Negative Keyword List

Creating a local negative keyword list is akin to composing a piece of art. It requires a thorough understanding of the landscape, which in this case, involves conducting a Google search for the products and services, identifying both relevant and irrelevant terms.

The art of crafting a negative keyword list involves:

  • Identifying negative keywords, starting with a list of obviously irrelevant terms

  • Conducting manual Google searches

  • Analyzing search term reports

  • Constantly refining the list before and during a campaign launch

This strategy empowers businesses to effectively filter out irrelevant traffic, ensuring that ads are displayed only for searches closely associated with the local business offerings.

Implementing Negative Keywords in Your Google Ads Account

A Magnifying Glass Over A List Of Keywords

Implementing negative keywords in your Google Ads account parallels the process of setting up an email filter. It allows you to control what gets through and what doesn’t. In the case of Google Ads, it involves utilizing the Keywords tab to enhance control and organization.

The process for adding a negative keyword to your Google Ads campaign involves the following steps:

  1. Select the search query to negate.

  2. Choose ‘Add as negative keyword.’

  3. Decide the level at which the negative keyword should be assigned along with the match type.

  4. Save the changes.

This process is akin to optimizing your email filter, ensuring that only the most relevant messages hit your inbox.

Using the Keywords Tab for Quick Management

The Keywords Tab in Google Ads serves as your central hub for negative keyword management. It’s like the control room of a spaceship, where you can quickly add, edit, or remove negative keywords as needed. To access the Keywords Tab in Google AdWords, you locate your campaign, navigate to the appropriate ad group, click on the Keywords Tab, input your keywords, and set the keyword match types.

Adding a negative keyword using the Keywords Tab is as simple as:

  1. Accessing your Google Ads account

  2. Clicking on the Campaigns icon

  3. Selecting the Audiences, keywords, and content drop-down in the section menu

  4. Creating a negative keyword list

  5. Navigating to the Tools & Settings tab

  6. Clicking on Negative keyword lists

  7. Clicking on the plus button to add negative keywords

  8. Entering the negative keyword

  9. Saving the changes.

Adding Keywords at the Ad Group Level

The process of adding negative keywords at the ad group level parallels the organization of a filing cabinet. It allows for precise targeting and helps maintain a clean and organized campaign structure.

To add negative keywords at the ad group level in Google Ads, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your account.

  2. Navigate to the ‘Campaigns’ tab.

  3. Select the campaign.

  4. Click on the ‘Ad groups’ tab.

  5. Choose the ad group.

  6. Click on the ‘Keywords’ tab.

  7. Scroll to the ‘Negative keywords’ section.

  8. Click on the ‘+ Keywords’ button.

  9. Enter the negative keywords.

  10. Save the changes.

This process allows for ads to be excluded from specific ad groups, thereby facilitating more focused ad targeting.

Balancing Negative and Positive Keywords in Local Campaigns

A Scale Balancing Positive And Negative Keywords

Maintaining a balance between negative and positive keywords in local campaigns is comparable to adhering to a balanced diet. You need a bit of everything in moderation for optimal health. In the context of local campaigns, maintaining a balance between negative and positive keywords is crucial to ensure that ads effectively reach the intended audience without excessively filtering out potential leads.

A balanced keyword diet involves establishing an account structure that ensures negative keywords only impact specific ad groups. This provides control over the exclusion of keywords from particular campaigns. Additionally, it requires regularly reviewing and updating the negative keyword list to align with campaign objectives and target audience, thus ensuring a balanced approach.

Avoiding Over-Negation

In the context of local ad campaigns, over-negation can be likened to excessive indulgence in something beneficial. It refers to the delicate balance of excluding irrelevant searches while not obstructing potential queries that could result in conversions.

Avoiding over-negation is crucial for businesses in local campaigns as it ensures the inclusion of valuable leads and strikes a balance between filtering out irrelevant traffic and capturing potential customers. This process is akin to having just the right amount of seasoning in your dish – too much can overpower the flavor, while too little can leave it bland.

Aligning Keywords with Local Search Terms

Matching keywords with local search terms bears resemblance to adjusting your radio to the correct frequency. It enables businesses to optimize their ad targeting and address the specific requirements of their local audience more effectively.

The process of aligning keywords with local search terms involves:

  • Taking into consideration the relevance of the keywords

  • Analyzing search volume and competition

  • Understanding the local target market

  • Conducting a competitor analysis

Just like how fine-tuning your radio can lead you to your favorite station, aligning your keywords with local search terms can guide your ads to your target audience.

Identifying and Refining Negative Keywords Through Search Terms Reports

A Person Analyzing Search Terms Reports

The process of identifying and refining negative keywords through search terms reports can be compared to searching for valuable gems in sand. These reports provide the actual search terms that are triggering your ads.

Regularly analyzing search terms reports and adjusting match types can help businesses manage negative keywords, refine their negative keyword lists, and improve ad targeting. It’s akin to the continuous process of sieving through the sand, separating the gems from the grit, and refining your collection.

Regular Analysis of Search Queries

Frequent analysis of search queries mirrors the routine of consistent health check-ups. They help you:

  • Identify new negative keywords

  • Eliminate irrelevant terms

  • Ultimately improve campaign targeting

  • Increase ROI

To achieve optimal performance, it is recommended to:

  • Analyze a search term report at least once a week to a month

  • This frequency allows for capturing relevant data trends and making timely adjustments to the negative keyword list

  • Just like regular health check-ups help detect any potential issues early, regular analysis of search queries can help spot any potential issues with your ad campaign early on.

Adjusting Match Types for Precision

Modifying match types for negative keywords is similar to fine-tuning the focus on a camera. It allows for more precise targeting and exclusion of irrelevant searches, ultimately enhancing ad performance.

The precision of negative keyword targeting can be enhanced by adjusting match types, which enables the exclusion of specific terms that are irrelevant to the product or service. Utilizing different match types like exact match, phrase match, or broad match modifier allows for the refinement of the negative keyword list to exclude irrelevant variations and guarantee that ads are not displayed to users searching for those specific terms.

Advanced Tactics for Local PPC Optimization

Employing advanced tactics for local PPC optimization involves:

  • Strategic moves

  • A deep understanding of the game

  • Leveraging broad and phrase match types wisely

  • Adjusting campaigns based on seasonal trends and industry changes

Just like how different chess pieces have different moves and powers, broad match and phrase match keywords have different uses and impacts on your ad campaigns. Broad match keywords can be used to expand reach and capture new keyword opportunities, while phrase match keywords can help in targeting specific search queries closely.

Leveraging Broad and Phrase Match Wisely

Strategic use of broad and phrase match types can be likened to employing diverse fishing nets for various fish species. Broad match keywords encompass all searches related to the keyword, including variations and related searches. On the other hand, phrase match keywords specifically target searches that contain the keyword in the same order, albeit with the possibility of additional words before or after the keyword.

Just like how a large net can catch more fish but may also catch unwanted debris, broad match keywords can help you reach a wider audience but may also attract irrelevant traffic. On the contrary, a smaller, more specific net can help you catch the exact type of fish you’re after, just like how phrase match keywords can help you target specific search queries more accurately.

Seasonal Adjustments and Industry Trends

Making seasonal adjustments and keeping abreast of industry trends mirrors the practice of dressing according to the weather and current fashion trends. Seasonal changes have a significant impact on the search intent of local customers as they influence their varying needs and preferences. It is crucial to adapt PPC campaigns to these changes in order to effectively target the right audience.

Just like how you would update your wardrobe based on the changing seasons and latest fashion trends, industry trends have the potential to impact local PPC campaigns in several ways:

  • Altering the patterns of voice search usage

  • Influencing keyword CPC as a result of varying competition and demand

  • Requiring customized strategies to address specific industry attributes

The Impact of Negative Keywords on Ad Spend Efficiency

A Bar Graph Showing Improved Ad Spend Efficiency

The effect of implementing negative keywords on the efficiency of ad spend for local campaigns can be likened to the results of prudent investment in the stock market. Effective negative keyword management can lead to:

  • Increased conversion rates

  • Improved return on investment

  • Filtering out irrelevant traffic

  • Enhancing the efficiency of local ad campaigns

Just like how wise investment decisions can lead to higher returns, implementing negative keywords in your PPC campaigns can significantly improve your ad spend efficiency. If a broad match is causing exclusion of numerous relevant queries, it is advisable to consider switching to phrase or exact match to uphold ad relevance and avoid unnecessary expenditure on ads.


In conclusion, implementing negative keywords in local ad campaigns is a powerful strategy for businesses looking to optimize their ad spend, enhance ad relevance, and boost conversion rates. From understanding local search intent and crafting a negative keyword list to leveraging match types and staying updated on industry trends, businesses can significantly improve their PPC campaigns by effectively managing negative keywords.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove negative keywords from my campaign?

To remove negative keywords from your campaign, sign in to your Google Ads account, click Keywords, select Negative Keywords, check the box next to the relevant list, and click Remove.

How do you optimize negative keywords?

To optimize negative keywords, add them in increments and avoid ‘list stuffing’ to prevent limiting the visibility of your ads.

How do I add negative keywords to my campaign?

To add negative keywords to your Google Ads campaign, locate the ‘Negative Keywords’ section under ‘Keywords’ and click the blue ‘+’ button. Alternatively, select the campaign you want to edit, click the 3 dots icon, select Create an automated rule and choose Add negative keyword lists.

Why should we negate a keyword in a campaign?

Negative keywords are essential in helping you target interested users and improve CTR, as it helps exclude search terms and reduces wasted clicks, thereby increasing ROI.

What is the significance of negative keywords for local businesses?

Negative keywords are essential for local businesses, as they help to narrow down irrelevant searches and increase ad relevance, optimizing budget allocation in the process.

About Preston Toor
Preston, the founder and co-owner of Results Digital, brings nearly a decade of rich experience in the digital marketing realm. His journey began in the world of WordPress web design, swiftly transitioning into the intricacies of SEO and Google Ads. His tenure at two prominent digital marketing agencies equipped him with invaluable insights and expertise in website design, SEO, and Google Ads management. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep-seated passion for elevating businesses, Preston ventured to establish Results Digital. His commitment is rooted in guiding businesses to achieve unprecedented growth and success. On a lighter note, Preston’s admiration for Obi-Wan Kenobi, his favorite Jedi, mirrors his approach to digital marketing – wise, strategic, and always focused on the greater good. This is subtly reflected in his bio picture, a nod to his personal interests and character.