What does 'negative broad' actually mean?

| 16 Jul, 2014

Anyone running a Google AdWords campaign will tell you how important it is to make use of negative keywords to easily weed out unwanted traffic.

However, the incorrect use of a negative keyword can just as easily block relevant search queries restricting your campaign’s potential. One way to ensure you get it right is to understand exactly how Google’s negative keyword match type options work.

In short, negative exact and negative phrase work the same as their keyword match type counter parts, but negative broad does not! This is where some confusion lies and I will now attempt to clarify.

The following is true for the broad negatives listed:

  • -shoe:
    will not block search queries that are plurals or similes like shoes or sneakers
  • -red shoe:
    will not block search queries that are plurals or similes like red shoes or red sneaker
  • -red shoe:
    will not block if only one of the words are used in a search query like red sneaker or blue shoe
  • -red shoe:
    will however block if all words are included in a search query (even if in a different order or included along with other words), so it will block shoe red or high heel shoe in red

In summary, I think the key factors to keep in mind when adding negatives on broad are:

  • that a search query can easily be misspelled or be singular or plural and therefore all of these variations should be added as individual broad negatives to be effective
  • that the meaning of the same words but in a different order can vary significantly, for example: sugar free and free sugar, so be careful when using the broad negative match type option for negatives that contain more than one word. (Perhaps consider the negative phrase match type option instead).

And remember - “The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail".

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