Posted by & filed under Google Ads Tips, Keywords, Negative Keywords.

Yes, Broad Match Negative Keywords are a great way to combat unwanted traffic, but only if it is used in the correct fashion. Much like positive keywords broad match negative keywords also cover a wide spectrum of search queries.

The context though is different. With broad match positive keywords you want to reach as many search terms possible and with broad match negative keyword you would want to block as many queries as possible. However, this general understanding doesn’t apply practically.

Before selecting broad match as the match type for your negative keyword it is crucial to understand what impact it might have on your business. Being a broad match type the restriction that it could lay on your ad could be immense, and if not thoroughly worked upon you might end up blocking your ad for search queries which give conversions.

We will, in length, discuss why you have often been alerted to use broad match negative keywords wisely and when it is better not to use broad match as negative keywords.

About Negative Keyword Match Types

We will quickly run you through this topic, if you are familiar you can skip and move to the next topic. Negative Keywords can be assigned any of the three match types, namely Exact, Phrase or Broad.

  • Exact match is when the search query should exactly match the keyword. For example, ad for keywords [red shoes] will only be blocked if the search query is red shoes only.
  • Phrase match is when search query should have the keyword in the same order. For example, keywords“red shoes”, will block ad for search queries such as buying red shoes but not red socks with shoes. It is no less similar than what happens in positive keywords.
  • Broad match keywords need to be present within the search term irrespective of the order. For instance, the keyword red shoes blocks ad for queries such as red shoes for kids, shoes in red color etc.

Now, that we are familiar with the match types let’s dig deeper into the broad match negative keywords.

Benefit of using Broad Match Negative Keywords

Broad match negative keyword helps block large number of irrelevant trafficUnlike Phrase and Exact match where your keyword restricts ad for a limited set of search queries, broad match works just the opposite.

Its reach is wider and all possibilities of your ad showing is blocked. So, if you sell green shoes and want to block all queries of red socks then following are the ways in which each match type responds:

Block irrelevant traffic
Ad Display Parameters

Taking the same example above, let us see how many combinations of keywords need to be created to block all the search queries

Broad Match Nos

The example above clears that one has to use 3 combination of keywords for the 5 search queries in Phrase Match Type. With Exact Match Type all the search query terms have to be then added as keywords to block them.

Alternately, Broad Match Negative Keywords serves the purpose with just one keyword blocking all 5 search queries.

Things to keep in mind when using Broad Match Negative Keywords

There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you are too keen to add negative keyword as a broad match type:

1. Broad match negative keywords do not consider close variants

Unlike positive keywords, plurals, similar terms or misspellings are not considered. So, in the case of keyword such as red shoes your ad will not show for red shoes for toddlers, but will show for search query red shoe. So, if you want to block any related terms you have to add that as a negative keyword too.

Close Variants
Broad Match Negative Keywords - Ad Display Parameters

2. Irrelevant term but relevant search query

There can be keywords which though are irrelevant when looked individually, but some search queries with that term might be relevant for your business. For example if you sell golf shoes and don’t want to appear for the search term golf tournament, you might think of adding golf tournaments as a broad match negative keyword.

Irrelevant Term Relevant Search Query
Broad Match Negative Keywords - Ad Display Parameters

It results in blocking your ad for irrelevant search queries such as tournaments of golf or golf tournaments in USA but also for some relevant search queries such as golf shoes for tournaments or shoes for golf tournaments. A better option here would be to use phrase match keywords.

3. No negative Broad Match Modifier

[Update as on 14th July 2021] – Starting in late July, advertisers will no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. Read about the update here.

Broad match modifier, denoted with a ‘+’ sign before the keyword, lets your ad to show for only those terms that have been added under this match type.  However, negative keywords can not be added as broad match modifier match type. This match type is useful in positive keywords as it lets you choose the keywords that you necessarily want in the search term. For e.g. if your keyword is +women’s +scarves, your ad will show for search queries such as buy scarves for women or red scarves for women. However, the ad will not show for any synonym or related terms. It as a result filters relevant traffic. So if you are doing the mistake of adding –green -scarves as a negative keyword, you mustn’t.

4. Shopping campaign negative keywords

Businesses selling specific products can consider choosing broad match type for their negative keyword. But for businesses with an extensive range of product service lines, might want to rethink selecting broad match type as it might block products you don’t want to.

For instance, if you have different product lines (say makeup products and soaps) under the same brand name and you are promoting only one product line (makeup product) and not the other, you may think of adding brand name as negative keyword to not show other products. But that might just stop your ad from showing for products, that you wish to promote. A wise step here would be to add all SKUs of your product line (that you do not wish to promote) as negative keyword in you campaign

5. Be careful, it limits your reach

A broad match negative keyword restricts your reach more than phrase or exact match. Before assigning the broad match type to your negative keyword, check your search query data. For instance, if you sell shoes and realize that green shoes are not converting you might think of adding green as a negative keyword. However on analyzing your search query data you realize that another search term green running shoes is building conversions for you. In such a case, a feasible option would be to add “green shoes” as a phrase match negative keyword.

6. Broad = Phrase

When using a single term, whether you use it as a phrase or broad won’t make much of a difference. So taking the example above, adding green as broad or phrase, won’t change the mannerism of the negative keyword.

Broad match’s major benefit lies in helping you eliminate a large swathe of irrelevant traffic with minimal effort. But, you need to be careful about blocking possibly relevant search queries as well.

7. Including single-terms as negative keywords

With broad match, all the terms need to be present in the search query to block it. So, if you have a negative keyword with more than one word, then make a note that your ad will end up showing for the individual terms. For example, if you have added ‘running shoes’ as negative keyword, then your ad will still show for ‘running‘ and ‘shoes‘ individually. If you do not want to show for these terms too, then add them as negative keywords separately.

8. Be careful with Negative Keyword variations

Variation of your negative keywords may perform differently. When adding a broad match type negative keyword you end up blocking all possible variations. It is thus, advisable to relook into your search terms and evaluate the performance. If a possible variation works better or is converting, then add the non-performer as a exact match type negative keyword.

For e.g., negative keyword ‘green shoes‘ will also block the term ‘green running shoes‘, that is driving conversions. In such a case it is better to use ‘green shoes’ in the phrase match type.

9. Default match type

Broad match is the default match type in the negative keywords. So while adding your negative keywords do make it a point to assign the match type that you want, if it is not the broad match type.

Should Negative Keywords be Broad Match?

Broad match keywords should not be feared, but used when it is the last resort. As you can very well witness that it is complex in nature and needs double the work to execute.

So, if it needs to be replaced with another match type, then it should be. What matters by the end, is that, you block irrelevant terms no matter what combination of match types you use for your negative keywords.

Note: Karooya’s Negative Keywords Tool is now Free for accounts with ad spend less than $10,000 per month. Save 10-20% of your search ad spend for free. Sign up and start saving your ad budget now.

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8 Responses to “Using Broad Match Negative Keywords in Google Ads”

  1. Jonathan Sanders

    Very useful article. We just had a discussion in our team about using Broad Match modifier within negative keywords. I ended up reading and experimenting what you just had said.

  2. Roberto Renteria- Digital Strategist

    Thanks I was using broad match modifiers on negative keywords so I had to go over all of my negative keyword lists.

  3. Leonidas

    Your article is really nice and well written, but there are two things that you should correct/add.
    At number 5 you wrote: “However on analyzing your search query data you realize that another search term green running shoes is building conversions for you. In such a case, a feasible option would be to add “running shoes” as a phrase match negative keyword.”
    You probably meant to to write: “…a feasible option would be to add “green shoes” as a phrase match negative keyword.” Thus, the ad won’t show if the search contains “green shoes” (exact keyword terms in the same order) but it will show if it contains “green running shoes” or “green shoes for running”, so you will not lose conversions coming from “running shoes” search term.
    You also forgot to mention (which is relevant to what I wrote above) that for negative broad match keywords, an ad won’t show ONLY if the search term contains ALL your negative keyword terms, even if the terms are in a different order or other words are in between (these are the differences with the phrase match negative keywords and they are shown clearly in the third table). Moreover, the ad may still show if the search term contains SOME of the negative keywords. So if someone adds “green” as a negative keyword, an ad will be shown for “green shoes” search term. This is super important and it makes a huge difference; You may want to add this.

  4. Lindsey

    Thanks for the insightS! The broad match keyword red shoes can also match for broadly related terms like pink shoes or even just shoes. Could you confirm that the negative broad match keyword red shoes wouldn’t block all keywords related to shoes, only red shoes specifically?


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