May 22, 2018

Are You Making These 7 Google AdWords Mistakes? (Mistake #2)

7 Common AdWords mistakes that will kill your Quality Score and increase your costs.

Mistake #2 – Not using negative keywords.

Google AdWords (Yahoo and Bing) allow advertisers to select words or phrases that you do not want your PPC ads to appear against. They call this adding ‘negative keywords’.

The idea is pretty simple, but often overlooked.

Let’s just assume you have added in your list of keywords to AdWords using the default ‘broad match’ match type. What this means is that Google will show your ad for not only the keyword you’ve chosen, but also for any other potential phrase combination that includes your original keyword.

Let me use a real world example.

My father is an owner of an organic olive oil business called Donkey Hill Organic Products. They’ve decided to run a small PPC campaign on Google to hopefully attract some wholesale enquiries and potentially a retail client or two. The main focus however remains B2B.

Obviously the important types of phrases / keywords to include are things like:

  • Organic olive oil
  • Australian organic olive oil
  • Organic olive oil supplier
  • Organic olive oil suppliers
  • Olive oil wholesale
  • Wholesale olive oil

You see where I’m heading.

However if I were to just add these keywords in on ‘broad match’ (default) or even phrase match (more on match types in another post) I’d be potentially wasting money on impressions and clicks that have nothing to do with the core aim of this campaigns.

Let me explain.

So as I said above ‘broad match’ essentially takes the keyword you’ve entered and will then match it on as  many potential search queries as possible that include that particular keyword or phrase (in any word order).

So back to the term ‘organic olive oil’ – No doubt this is a key term for this account but on broad or phrase match do you know what other terms this would match as well?

Check these out!

  • organic olive oil soap
  • organic olive oil recipes
  • organic olive oil lotion
  • organic olive oil hair spray
  • organic olive oil massage
  • organic olive oil decanter
  • organic olive oil cosmetics
  • organic olive oil cake

wow! Granted these are probably all great products made from organic olive oil, but guess what? Donkey Hill doesn’t sell them!

So what can we do to not appear for these terms?

Well the first step would be to add in ‘campaign negative keywords’

In AdWords these can be accessed via:

Opportunities Tab >> LHS in Tools “More tools” link >> “Edit Campaign Negative Keywords” link.

In here I’d then select the campaign in question, and then add in:

  • Soap
  • Recipes
  • Lotion
  • Hair
  • Spray
  • Massage
  • Decanter
  • Cosmetics
  • Cake

..and any other term I feel is not relevant…

I could also add these in for just specific ad groups if I didn’t wish to block completely.

In this case I would just add a ‘-‘ before each term that I wanted to make a ‘negative match’ in the specific ad group. Eg.

– olive oil soap
– olive oil spray

So, why is this important, and how can it help save marketing budget and improve performance?

In simple terms, what this will mean is that:
a) You’re not wasting impressions on irrelevant keywords.
b) You’re not incurring costs on clicks by users who are very unlikely to convert..
c) Your click through rate will go up.
d) You quality score will improve.
e) You’ll get better return on your spend!

Good luck!

Previously:  Mistake #1 – Too many keywords per ad group.
Coming Soon:

Mistake #3 – Sending all clicks to your home page.

Mistake #4 – Not targeting your geographic region.

Mistake #5 – Not monitoring bids at the keyword level.

Mistake #6 – Not using different keyword ‘Match Types’.

Mistake #7 – Not splitting out Campaigns to target Search and Content Network separately.


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About Leigh Hanney

Leigh Hanney is a marketing consultant helping companies optimise and execute digital marketing strategy and improve ROI.
Connect with Leigh on Google+ Leigh Hanney+


  1. Bad’s the wrong word imho. Dangerous, when used improperly is probably more to the point.

  2. very useful, thanks heaps

  3. Glad I could help! 🙂

  4. This is a valid mistake, thanks for pointing this out. We never gave negative keywords much thought but after your post, it all makes sense to ensure you don’t waste clicks on keywords that relate to products you don’t sell ! Time to sharpen our adwords. Thanks again for your insightful posts !

  5. Good luck! 🙂 When used well, negatives can save you lots of wasted money on non-targeted clicks, and improve quality score due to higher click through rates. Win-Win!

  6. Bad’s the wrong word imho. Dangerous, when used improperly is probably more to the point.

  7. Glad I could help! 🙂


  1. […] See original here: Are You Making These 7 Google AdWords Mistakes? (Mistake #2) […]

  2. […] Read the original post: Are You Making These 7 Google AdWords Mistakes? (Mistake #2) […]

  3. […] Are You Making These 7 Google AdWords Mistakes? (Mistake #2) […]

  4. […] started going into this above… and while I’ve covered negative keywords in an earlier post, and another great write up can be found over at PPCHero, today I want to go […]

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