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how to use negative keyword match types

How To Use Negative Keyword Match Types

Negative keyword match types work similar to other match types in Google Ads. So, you can add broad, phrase and exact match to your negative keywords to block specific searches that you don’t want triggering your ads.


We will use ‘wedding planner’ as an example to see how negative keyword match types work. So, if you want to target searches closely related to “wedding planner” but want to avoid searches that include words like ‘free’ ‘jobs’ ‘career’ etc, I’ll show you how you can use these negative keyword match types.


Broad match negative keywords


Use broad match for your negative keywords only when you have one word to block. So, in our wedding planner example, we will not add words like these as negative keywords:


wedding planner jobs
wedding planner career
free wedding planner


Instead, we will block the actual words that we don’t want and add them in broad match format with no quotation marks or brackets like this:




The reason is because this helps to block not just the examples above but all variations of the searches that include these three words. And that saves you a lot of time and a lot of budget too.


Add Negative Keyword List


Phrase match negative keywords


Phrase match keywords have quotation marks like this, “wedding planner”. And they target searches that have these two words in them and close variations too, with other words before, in the middle or after. So this word will trigger searches like:


wedding planner london
find wedding planner
wedding luxury planner


For negative keywords, the concept is similar but with a few differences. If you add a phrase match negative keyword like “wedding planner jobs”, it will only block searches in this exact order and also when there are words before or after this like:


wedding planner jobs near me
find wedding planner jobs


So, it will block these searches and any similar ones. But this is not as effective as adding broad match negative keywords as described above.


Exact match negative keywords


Exact match negative keywords block exact searches that are irrelevant. The quickest way to add them is by viewing the search terms report and select the ones that are not relevant and add them in bulk as exact match negatives.


Just bear in mind that it will only block the exact keyword and not any variations. So, adding your negative keywords this way will often lead to a very large list that can be unmanageable. And this can go into the thousands if you get a lot of traffic.


You will add the exact match negative keywords with brackets. For example, the word [wedding planner jobs] will only block searches in this exact order.


Negative keyword match types campaigns


Negative keywords are only relevant for Search and Standard Shopping campaigns. And the aim of negative keywords is to block searches that are not relevant for your business.


So, when you check your search terms report in your Google Ads campaign you’ll see the actual searches that you’re getting. Spending a lot of time in this report analysing your searches will help you to understand search intent better and have better targeted ads.




As you advertise in Google Ads, your negative keyword list will grow as you add more keywords that are not relevant for you. So, it’s a good idea to use all three negative keyword match types to ensure you’re blocking everything. However, the most important is the broad match negative keyword match type because it blocks many different search types and saves you a lot of time and means you don’t have to add many negatives.


Get in Touch


Need help with campaign management and negative keyword analysis and selection? I’m here to help. As a Google Ads expert, I have a lot of experience researching keywords and negative keywords and building good lists for both. Use the form below to contact me to discuss.



    I'm a Certified Google Ads Expert and Marketing Author and in this blog I share my latest tips and secrets on how to promote your business successfully on the web and increase customer loyalty, retention and advocacy on Google Ads.

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