If you follow our series on Optimization Tips, you know that we frequently encourage using negative keywords to improve your ROI. Specifically, adding negative keywords to your account can help better target your ads, increase clickthrough rates, and lower your minimum cost-per-click. You can read more on how to brainstorm negative keywords as well as how you can use them to improve your account performance in an earlier post. Today, we wanted to bring attention to an important feature of negative keywords that many advertisers frequently overlook when composing their negative keyword list: keyword match types.

You may know about the different keyword match types (broad, phrase, and exact) for the keywords you want to show your ads on. But did you know that negative keywords also run on these different keyword match types? Many advertisers use broad match for their negative keywords, and accidentally filter out too many search queries, including ones that they would have wanted their ad to show on. Let's check out an example below.

Say you own a men's clothing store and you would like to increase traffic to your site by running a special winter holiday campaign for your men's accessories line. In the Search Query Report you recently ran, you noticed that the ads in your holiday campaign for men's accessories are also showing up when users are searching for women's silk scarves. You have the broad match keywords silk ties, wool scarves, and men's gifts in your keyword list, and now you want to add the negative keyword of silk scarves. But which negative keyword match type should you choose? Below is a graph illustrating what would happen if you chose negative broad (-silk scarves), negative phrase (-"silk scarves"), and negative exact (-[silk scarves]) match types.
(Click on image for full-size version.)

As illustrated above, different match types for negative keywords can seriously impact when your ads show. In the first column for negative broad match, you would be losing out on relevant search queries such as silk ties wool scarves, simply because the broad match type filters out queries that contain words both silk and scarves. In the last column for negative exact match, search queries containing items that you do not sell like silk scarves gifts and women's silk scarves still cause your ad to show because you are only filtering out the exact match silk scarves.

Using negative keywords effectively requires carefully thinking about how negative keywords will impact your campaign. In addition, you should always monitor your traffic, clickthrough rate, cost per conversion, and search queries to make sure that you are seeing the desired result.

We hope that you've found this tip on negative keywords to be helpful. As always, please let us know which optimization tips you would like to read about in this series.