Add Negative Keywords in Performance Max Campaigns

Adding negative keywords to your Performance Max campaigns can help you avoid wasting money on clicks that are unlikely to convert.

It’s hard to believe now but it wasn’t possible to add negative keywords in Performance Max campaigns directly. You had to reach out to the Google reps to exclude the keywords from your campaigns and it wasn’t a sustainable method – now you have a new way.

Here’s how:

Say you are running a Performance Max campaign for a Shopify store that sells original and personalized jewelry online.

You can add negative keywords such as “near me”, “DIY”, “imitation”, or “craft” so you don’t show your ads to users who are not your target audience.

In this case, you are filtering out users who are looking for:

  1. some physical stores that sell personalized jewelry
  2. ways to create personalized jewelry by yourself
  3. jewelry products that are not original
  4. how to learn the craft of jewelry

You can also add the variations of these negative keywords, which you will learn in a bit.

By adding such keywords, you can increase your conversion rate and attract more loyal customers.

Here, you will learn about:

  • Negative keywords in detail
  • How to add them to your Performance Max campaigns
  • Why you should benefit from negative keywords
  • Best practices

plus valuable insights to improve your ad relevance, boost your CTR, and reduce CPC.

🎉 Bonus Content: You can explore the best Shopify Google Ads apps to optimize & improve the quality of your campaigns.

Negative Keywords - Google Ads Performance Max Campaigns
Negative Keywords – Google Ads Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max Negative Keywords Explained

You want your ads to reach the right people on search engines, right?

That’s where target keywords come in: Words or phrases that match your ads with the search queries of your ideal audience.

Negative keywords serve the same purpose, but in a slightly different way. They are words or phrases that prevent your ads from showing up for certain search terms.

Adding Negative Keywords in Google Ads
Adding Negative Keywords in Google Ads

When you set up negative keywords for your Performance Max campaigns, you simply filter out the irrelevant traffic & ineffective clicks to your website/product.

Adding negative keywords to your Performance Max campaigns is a great way to instruct Google Ads not to display your ad to people using those specific words, even if they relate to your product or service.

This way, you can save your budget and create better ads for your target audience.

How to Add Negative Keywords to Performance Max Campaigns

You have two options to add negative keywords to your Performance Max campaigns:

1- Negative Keywords for Pmax Campaigns at the Account Level

Follow the steps below to add negative keywords to your campaign.

Navigate to Account Settings on the left. Then, find the “Negative keywords” section.

Account Settings

Click on the plus button and then start adding the keywords. You can make use of your lists to better organize your keywords.

Add Negative Keywords

After adding your keywords, click “Save” to apply the changes.

Save

2- Negative Keywords for Pmax Campaigns at the Campaign Level

To make things even easier, Google has released a new Performance Max Campaign Modification Request Form.

This lets you apply negative keywords at the campaign level with the help of your Google team. Also, you now have topics and placement exclusions at the campaign level as a new option.

If you want to make modifications at the campaign level, you can use this form and follow the process: Performance Max Campaign Modification Request Form

Why Add Performance Max Negative Keywords?

Adding negative keywords to your Pmax campaigns can take your ads to a whole new level as you can better target your audience and save money & effort along the way.

Here are some extremely helpful advantages of using negative keywords in your Google Ads Performance Max campaigns:

Better Targeting

Once you exclude irrelevant clicks, you can make sure that your ads are displayed by a more focused audience, who are more likely to convert.

Therefore, although there might be a decrease in the number of clicks & traffic to your website, the quality of them improves. This way, you have a much higher chance to increase your conversions.

Reduced Conversion Costs & Improved Conversion Rates

As you manage better targeting, you narrow down your audience and attract more qualified leads.

When you avoid showing your ads to people who are not interested in your product or services, you can automatically save money and reduce your conversion costs.

If you can ensure your ads are only displayed by people that are more likely to convert, you super-boost your ad performance and get much higher conversion rates – with less ad spending.

Lower Cost Per Click (CPC) & Higher Clickthrough (CTR)

You don’t want to spend your advertising budget on clicks that don’t lead to conversions. So, when you use negative keywords in your Performance Max campaigns, you exclude clicks from buyers who are not interested in your products.

This way, you secure a lower CPC as you narrow down the audience you show your ads to only potential customers – who are more likely to convert.

In addition, when you filter out unnecessary questions & queries by adding negative keywords, you can increase the potential number of people clicking for your products or services.

Adding negative keywords to your Performance Max campaigns provides a lot of benefits just as mentioned above.

If you want to better analyze your Pmax campaigns, you are recommended to take a look at our guide on asset group reporting: Google Ads Performance Max Asset Group Reporting.

Adding Performance Max Negative Keywords: Best Practices (+ Examples)

Now that you’ve learned how to add negative keywords to your Performance Max campaigns, here are 3 valuable best practices, plus examples, to make things even easier for you.

1. Review and Update Your Negative Keywords Regularly.

Adding negative keywords is not a one-time task.

First of all, it’d be wise for you to start off by creating a negative keywords list. Then, you should constantly check this list out and update it according to your needs.

This is very important for your Performance Max campaigns to perform better as it will help you avoid showing your ads to people who are not interested in your products or services.

You can use the search terms report to see what people are searching for when they see your ads. If you find any words or phrases that are not relevant to your campaign, you can add them as negative keywords.

Example:

Let’s say you are running a Performance Max campaign for a Shopify store that sells eco-friendly and sustainable clothing online. You might have added “best clothing” as a keyword to reach more potential customers.

However, when you look at the search terms report, you see that some of the searches that triggered your ads are “fast fashion”, “outlet”, or “discount”.

These are not related to what you are actually selling, or what you are aiming for, so you can add them to your list of negative keywords right away. This way, you can save your budget and improve your ad quality.

Pro Tip: You can consider adding misspelled words as negative keywords, too. In this case, you can add “fast fashon”, “discont” and etc.

2. Use Broad Match Type

You should use broad match type for your negative keywords in your Performance Max campaigns. This means that your ads will not show up if someone searches for all the words that you don’t want, even if they are in a different order.

Example:

Say you are running a Performance Max campaign for a Shopify store that sells organic coffee.

You might want to add “instant” and “decaf” as negative keywords, because you don’t sell these types of coffee. If you use broad match type, your ads will not show up for searches like “instant decaf coffee”, “decaf instant coffee”, or “coffee decaf instant”.

This way, you can avoid showing your ads to people who are looking for something else.

3. Find the Best Negative Keywords

You can use these three questions to find the best negative keywords:

  • Does the search have a low clickthrough rate?
  • Does the search have a low conversion rate?
  • Does the search have a high cost per conversion?

A low clickthrough rate means that the search is not relevant to your campaign. You can either add it as a negative keyword or create a new ad group with a better ad.

A low conversion rate or a high cost per conversion means that the search is not matching your goal. You can either improve your landing page or add it as a negative keyword. This way, you can save money and get better results.

Example:

Let’s say you are running a Performance Max campaign for a Shopify store that sells pet supplies. You might have added “pet” as a keyword to reach more potential customers.

However, when you look at the search terms report, you see that some of the searches that triggered your ads are “pet insurance”, “pet adoption”, or “pet cemetery”.

These are not related to what you are selling, so you can use the three questions to decide whether to add them as negative keywords or not.

Does the search have a low clickthrough rate? Yes, the searches have a low clickthrough rate, because they are not relevant to your campaign. People who are looking for pet insurance, pet adoption, or pet cemetery are not interested in buying pet supplies. Therefore, you can add them as negative keywords to your campaign.

Does the search have a low conversion rate? Yes, the searches have a low conversion rate, because they are not matching your goal. Even if someone clicks on your ad by mistake, they are unlikely to buy anything from your Shopify store. So, you can add them as negative keywords to your campaign.

Does the search have a high cost per conversion? Yes, the searches have a high cost per conversion, because they are wasting your budget. Every time someone clicks on your ad for these searches, you pay money to Google Ads, but you don’t get any sales or leads. That’s why you can add them as negative keywords to your campaign.

Here are some additional sources for you to improve the performance of your Google Ads Performance Max campaigns:

1: Analyze PMax with Google Ads & GA4 PPC Landing Page Reports
2: Google Ads Performance Max Asset Group Reporting
3: Most Faced Shopify GA4 & Ads Tracking Issues w/ Checklist
4: Detect Branded Traffic in Google Ads Performance Max Campaigns