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Do Negative Keywords Still Block Hidden Search Terms?

Today, I’ll be answering a question about negative keywords. Heather asks:

This Google Ads change stinks! This means we can’t put the crappy search terms in negative keywords, right? Essentially, they get more money on crappy searches, right? I listened to your podcast but don’t think you mentioned this.

So, yes, great question. If anyone doesn’t know what she’s talking about, you can find my podcast episode titled ‘Google’s Move to Hide Search Terms From Us’ where I explain that basically, Google stopped showing us all of the search terms that were leading to clicks on our ads. We no longer have that visibility and Heather is right, that absolutely stinks.

As advertisers, it was really nice to be able to see all of these random, obscure search terms that were leading people to click on our ads so that we could then add negative keywords as we saw these things come up.

Now, the silver lining in this (if there is one) is that the terms we’re not seeing are the random, more obscure terms – things people aren’t really searching for a lot. That means maybe we were adding a negative keyword because we saw a really weird search term, but that was actually the only time anyone would have ever searched something like that and clicked on our ad. Adding the negative keyword didn’t do us any good then.

Obviously, that is not always the case. Adding as many keywords as you can, even if something only gets searched one more time and your negative keyword blocks it, then it was worth adding that negative keyword. I’m not agreeing with this move by Google. I think it does hurt advertisers, but at least they didn’t take away all of the search term visibility from us. They just took away those low-volume searchers.

Heather asks, “Does this mean we can’t put the crappy search terms in negative keywords?” No, we can still put these negative keywords in, and even though we can’t see all of the search terms, Google is still blocking search terms if we have a negative keyword. Just because they’re not showing us the search terms anymore doesn’t mean they’re ignoring our negative keywords. So absolutely, we need to put negative keywords in and we just can’t do it as well from the search term report.

That means we need to do this from outside sources and we need to do a lot more of our own research to put in negative keywords. We still need to utilize the search term report and when we see things in there we don’t like, we still need to be adding negative keywords. Even though we can’t see the search terms, if we have negative keywords, they’re still going to be blocking those irrelevant searches.