Negative Keywords Not Working?

So you recently added some negative keywords and when you went back to the search terms report you were amazed (and terrified) to find some of the queries containing the negative words! You have checked the negative keyword match type, ensured it’s in the right campaign and ad group and are assured that you did everything just right. Yet, those negative keywords seem to keep coming back to haunt you in the search terms.

Here is why!

1. Query Length: Is the search term query 10 or more words long? Google policies only trigger a negative keyword (irrespective of match type) if it appears in the first 10 words of the search query. Consider the following example:

Negative Keyword: London
Search Query: Phone numbers and websites of dealers selling pet food online for people living in London

Notice the negative keyword London is the 15th term in the query. As per Google’ policies this will not cause London to block your adverts from appearing.

Negative Keyword: London
Search Query: Phone numbers and websites of London dealers selling pet food online.

Here, because your negative keyword is the 6th word in the query it will block you advert from appearing.


Before you start stressing over Google’ policies you should ask yourself, ‘Is this really going cost me a lot?’ If you’re spending over £10,000 a month and these clicks cost you no more than £10.00 then it might not be worth stressing over it. Note these figures are only indicative.

Such cases are hard to avoid. But if these queries are costing you a considerable sum of money then you may want to pick specific phrases from the search term and add them to your negative keyword list. This may not be a perfect solution but consider it like another step towards building a more comprehensive negative keyword list.

2. Keyword Length: If your negative keyword contains two or more words then your ad might still show if one of the words are entered in the search query. Consider the following example:
Negative Keyword: Pet Food
Search Query: Dog Food

Notice that irrespective of the match type simple because your negative phrase contains food does not mean your ads won’t show up any queries containing the word food. Note that in order to block you ad from showing for dog food or pet food or any query containing food you need to have food and only food as your negative keyword.

So this is it. If you have any questions, observations, feedback, feel free to email us at

Look forward to hearing from you!!!

Rick Tobin
Managing Director

Over 20 years dedicated PPC experience working with some of the world's biggest brands.

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