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Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

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# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I have an negative exact match keyword in place - I'll call it [red rubber ball]. To my understanding, this should only stop my ads from being shown when someone searches for exactly "red rubber ball".

 

However, I used the "Diagnose keywords" tool in Adwords to scrutinize some of my keywords, and I found that it was conflicting with some similar broad and phrase match keywords. Two keywords had the error/notification "Approval issue": the modified broad match keyword red +rubber +ball and the phrase match keyword "red rubber ball".

 

When I hovered over the notification on these two keywords for more information, I saw this:

 

     "Showing ads right now? No

 

     A negative keyword ([red rubber ball]) is preventing your ad from showing."

 

 

This does not make sense to me. I do want my ads to be shown when someone searches for "red rubber balls" or "green rubber balls", just not when someone searches "red rubber ball".

 

Is this a bug? Am I misunderstanding how a negative exact match keyword works? Thank you in advance for your help.

4 Expert replyverified_user
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Marked as Best Answer.
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Accepted by topic author robonski
September 2015

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 7
Top Contributor

Hi Guys,

 

>> I have an negative exact match keyword in place - I'll call it [red rubber ball]. To my understanding, this should only stop my ads from being shown when someone searches for exactly "red rubber ball". <<

 

I apologize for dropping in but the issue has a rather long history and you are unlikely to find the clue on your own. Robonski's above understanding is quite correct and so are the assumptions he made in his original query. Years ago it was not a problem to list a broad match keyword and simultaneously it's negative exact match too.

 

          red rubber ball

          -[red rubber ball]

 

The above was a legit list of keywords and could have been used for the purposes Robonski explained. Myself personally tested such configurations a few times. Some (bad) folks noticed that such an arrangement can also be used to pin your initial Quality Score since Google can't change a keyword's QS value unless the embedded exact match accrues impressions. It's a theoretical paradox or conflict which should not be allowed to exist and I think they are still pretty much torn about this issue.

 

As I said it was originally legit, next it was illegitimate for about a year, then last year it got allowed again and it's once more forbidden since recently.

 

Bottom line is Robonski's original logic seems 100% correct to me. The real issue why he can't do it appears to be associated with factors pertinent to the calculation of a keyword's QS.

 

Cheers,

Lakatos

View solution in original post

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi Robonski,

 

Let me see if I can help you out here.

 

Bidding on positive keywords (red +rubber +ball) and ("red bubber ball") will trigger a match for search query (red rubber ball) so there is a definite conflict by employing a negative exact (-[red rubber ball]).

 

You can use negative exact on plurals or singular versions of keywords as you have listed but you will need to alter your strategy for positive keywords.

 

You should try not to bid on keywords that you do not want matched.  Perhaps using "red rubber balls", "rubber balls" and [red rubber balls] will work better for you.  Also, please keep in mind that any use of broad match keywords (includng modified broad) will trigger matches for plurals and similar, related keywords.    

 

If you're looking to get as granular as you're suggesting, you may find better success using more phrase and exact match on the positive side of things.

 

Hope this helps!

 

-Tom

 

 

Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks for the reply, Tom. Let me see if I'm understanding you correctly.

 

It sounds like you're saying that if there exists any potential search query that can match both a positive keyword and a negative keyword, Adwords will not use the positive keyword to trigger ads for any search query, even if the search query does NOT conflict with a negative keyword. Is that right?

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi Robonski,

 

Actually what I was trying to get across was that you should not be bidding on keywords that you are including in your negative keyword lists.  Negative keywords are used to eliminate potential matches to irrelevant search queries.  

 

The example you just provided is similar to what you first explained.

 

"It sounds like you're saying that if there exists any potential search query that can match both a positive keyword and a negative keyword, Adwords will not use the positive keyword to trigger ads for any search query, even if the search query does NOT conflict with a negative keyword. Is that right?"

 

If a keyword is entered into a negative keyword list, you're saying that you DO NOT want to serve ads for any queries that match that negative keyword.  You can't then turn around and list keywords in your positive keyword lists that will in turn return a positive match for the same search query, this is where the conflicts are happening.

 

Based on your examples, IMO, it's all related to the match types.

 

Exact negative match -[red rubber ball] will eliminate the search query (red rubber ball) from matching your keywords and no ads will be served.

 

Positive modified broad match (red +rubber +ball) will match the search query (red rubber ball) and will enter your ads into the auction.

 

Instead, you could use phrase match "red rubber balls" or exact match [red rubber balls] to target the queries that you would like to serve ads for.

 

What you're currently doing, it's like saying yes and no at the same time - for Adwords you're not making a clear decision, hence the conflicting messages.

 

Perhaps you'll find some clarity in a Wiki I wrote recently - Keyword Match Types for Search Campaigns.

 

You should try to fully understand what each match type does before you try to employ them, both positive and negative.  By using complimentary match types among your negative and positive keyword lists, you'll eliminate the irrelevant queries and focus on the desired search queries at the same time.

 

I hope I have answered your question here.

 

-Tom

 

Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I get what you're saying, Tom - it doesn't make sense to tell Adwords yes and no to the same thing. And I swear I'm not trying to be difficult here. I really appreciate your engaging with this question. Let me give you a little more background so you can understand what led to this situation.

 

The keywords ("red rubber ball") and (red +rubber +ball) perform well. They bring in a variety of relevant search queries that engage well with my site (e.g. rubber balls for sale, red rubber ball stores, etc.). However, I have noticed that search traffic for exactly "red rubber ball" does not engage very well. So I want to keep getting the more broadly matched search queries that my two keywords are bringing in and ONLY exclude the search query "red rubber ball".

 

The search queries matching my two positive keywords are too varied with too low of traffic to try to target them with more precise positive keywords such as a longer/different phrase match or exact match keywords. The whole point of using a shorter phrase match and modified broad match is to bring in long-tail search traffic that I cannot anticipate. I don't want to lose that; I just want to exclude this one precise search and leave these otherwise well-performing keywords alone.

 

Is there a way to do that? Or do I just need to suck it up and take the bad with the good?

 

Tom, you've already dedicated plenty of time to this question, so I'll understand if you're disgusted with me and want to move on to other things. But if anyone understands what I'm driving at, I would appreciate any input or feedback.

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

Hi Robonski,

 

No problem whatsoever.  I'm glad to try and help.

 

I understand completely what you are trying to accomplish but I'm afraid you'd have to make too much of a sacrifice to exclude just (-[red rubber ball]).  You still want each of those individual terms to match and you want to maintain your current reach.

 

Tough spot to be in.  Can you regroup your keywords and alter the ads for "red rubber ball" so users will better know what you're promoting when the exact match is triggered?  

 

Its tough for me to grasp that phrase match "red rubber ball" performs well but [red rubber ball] will not. But I can understand the possibilities.  

 

There could be other options here for you but I'm not able to come with any more at this moment. 

 

-Tom

 

Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’
Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by topic author robonski
September 2015

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 7
Top Contributor

Hi Guys,

 

>> I have an negative exact match keyword in place - I'll call it [red rubber ball]. To my understanding, this should only stop my ads from being shown when someone searches for exactly "red rubber ball". <<

 

I apologize for dropping in but the issue has a rather long history and you are unlikely to find the clue on your own. Robonski's above understanding is quite correct and so are the assumptions he made in his original query. Years ago it was not a problem to list a broad match keyword and simultaneously it's negative exact match too.

 

          red rubber ball

          -[red rubber ball]

 

The above was a legit list of keywords and could have been used for the purposes Robonski explained. Myself personally tested such configurations a few times. Some (bad) folks noticed that such an arrangement can also be used to pin your initial Quality Score since Google can't change a keyword's QS value unless the embedded exact match accrues impressions. It's a theoretical paradox or conflict which should not be allowed to exist and I think they are still pretty much torn about this issue.

 

As I said it was originally legit, next it was illegitimate for about a year, then last year it got allowed again and it's once more forbidden since recently.

 

Bottom line is Robonski's original logic seems 100% correct to me. The real issue why he can't do it appears to be associated with factors pertinent to the calculation of a keyword's QS.

 

Cheers,

Lakatos

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

Hi Lakatos,

 

Your insight to this is quite intriguing.  I was basing my posts on the fact that there were stated conflicting issues with the selected keywords.

 

I also can appreciate the 'paradox'.  I was also pondering why one wouldn't be able to exclude a choice match type while allowing other potential matches.

 

You've explained quite a bit here and I've found it quite helpful.

 

Thanks!

 

-Tom

Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor

Thanks, Tom. That's because I am in the forum since 2006. - The word *conflicting* is Google's favorite.

 

(Sorry I did not notice your answer earlier I was focusing on editing my post 3-4 times.)

 

Cheers ... Robot LOL

Re: Negative exact match keywords interfering with broad and phrase match keywords

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 10
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thank you very much for your response, Lakatos. Disappointing, but very helpful.

 

Many thanks also to Tom on this question.