My Negative Exact Match


Just because this post is about something cool I figured out in Google AdWords doesn’t mean that it’s not about analytics and conversion. (Well, ok, it’s not mostly about analytics and conversion….)

I’m probably not the first person to figure this out, but I definitely stumped “my” Google Ad rep. Here was the issue and the answer, and I will pretend that my company is the customer so that I can use examples.

Issue: If I use a big single head word like analytics and I let Google AdWords use a broad match configuration, the term pulls really well when the searcher uses at least one other word with it. So, for example, if the visitor types in web analytics or analytics consulting or Pittsburgh analytics, the click through and conversion is excellent. You might be thinking, what about when they type in stock analytics or financial analytics? Those don’t matter because I already told Google never to match when the searcher uses stock or financial. You know, negative match.

The problem is, the term doesn’t do very well when someone just types in analytics – it can mean too many things. I could try to find all the phrase matches possible, but I am too lazy for that.

Answer: “So,” I said to the Google AdWords guy, “Can’t I do negative exact match? Like this: -[analytics]. That way, analytics is still a broad match term, just not when it appears alone.”

He looked at me, and he looked at my paper, and he looked at me again. “Well, I guess it should work, theoretically.”

With that I thought, this is ridiculous, I am just going to try it. So I stood there while we talked and added it and AdWords took it. Later I went back and verified that it worked, and that the click throughs and conversions were increasing. I only have a couple days of data right now, but am at a click through rate of 6% for that campaign with no decrease in conversion rate. So I am getting ready to lower the bids.

I learned that I needed the exact negative match by implementing this Google Analytics hack from GA-Experts.

Robbin Steif

Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • Robin, this is so cool. It makes sense that one-word Google search queries often don’t convert well. Negative exact match takes care of that. So now you have me thinking about negative phrase match.

    Any updates on this article? One question I have is, you mentioned that when you bid on one-word keywords in broad match, the multi-word user queries that match it convert better than the single word user queries. I’m wondering how you like to find this information about user queries that trigger your ads.

    I’ve only used that Google query report. Have you tried anything else you like?

  • Hi Greg. There really is a (small) follow-up to this:

    As far as anything besides the GA-Experts hack: ROI Revolution wrote a hack that you can use. It is supposed to be great. But the problem is, it uses up your one user defined variable. I usually need that for something else, so I have to be in a situation where we are doing the AdWords and the Analytics/

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