How to manage search terms on Google Ads

Last updated: July 16, 2023

Aaron Rudman-Hawkins

Aaron Rudman-Hawkins is a dynamic digital marketing expert and a driving force behind The Evergreen Agency's success. With a passion for technology and a deep understanding of the ever-evolving digital landscape, Aaron has become a trusted name in the industry.

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Google Ads is a powerful tool for ecommerce businesses looking to increase their online visibility and drive conversions. One of the key aspects of Google Ads management is handling search terms effectively.

Understanding how to make the most of search terms can be a game-changer for your advertising strategy. In this Ask Aaron video, we’ll delve into the art of managing search terms on Google Ads to help optimise your campaigns and boost your brand’s performance.

Let’s break down the points made in the video above.

Search terms provide valuable insights into how your ads are performing, and what keywords trigger their appearance. By analysing search terms, you can gain a better understanding of your ad’s relevance as well as Google’s perception of your business’s offerings.

This data serves as an invaluable window into the Google Ads black box, shedding light on how your ecommerce brand is being presented to potential customers.

Now we’ve covered the importance of search terms, let’s take a look at how brands can utilise negative keywords.

Negative keywords are a powerful tool that ecommerce brands can utilise to refine campaign targeting, and ensure ads are shown to the right audience.

  • Review your search terms report, and identify keywords that are either irrelevant, or have the wrong intent for your brand.
  • Add these keywords as negative keywords. This instructs Google not to display your ads for those terms.
  • This will helps you optimise your ad budget, simply by avoiding clicks that won’t lead to conversions.
  • By creating a master negative keyword list, you can exclude terms that consistently generate irrelevant traffic or have a non-commercial intent.
  • This approach streamlines your campaign management and ensures a consistent exclusion of undesirable search terms.


To take your negative keyword strategy a step further, consider segmenting negative keyword lists.

Choosing match types

When adding negative keywords, consider the match types to apply. Exact match exclusions are the most specific, ensuring that your ad won’t show for that exact term. However, you might also want to use ‘phrase match’ or ‘broad match’ exclusions, to cover variations of a keyword that may still lead to irrelevant clicks.

Competitor exclusion

Building a competitor-focused negative keyword list can help you maintain a strong online presence, while avoiding direct competition. By excluding your competitors’ names, brands can ensure that ads are shown to users who are genuinely interested in your offerings, rather than those of your competitors.

Seasonal offers and promotions

Crafting a negative keyword list that is specifically segmented for seasonal sales, promotions, or discounts is a smart move. This is because this will prevent your ads from displaying for users looking for discounted items when you’re selling at full price.

Top tip: When you do run a promotion, simply deactivate this list to ensure your ads are visible to the right audience.

Campaign – level exclusions

If you have campaigns that could conflict due to similar products, consider applying specific negative keywords at a campaign level to avoid internal competition.

Effectively managing search terms on Google Ads is a nuanced process that requires strategic thinking and continuous refinement, but hopefully these tips have shed a light on some quick strategic wins to implement and utilise.

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