Use negative keywords

Ensure that your search results ads won’t appear for certain search terms

If you’re running Apple Search Ads Advanced search results campaigns, negative keywords can help control costs and improve campaign efficiency by preventing your ad from appearing for certain searches. Negative keywords should be related to your ad group keywords, but they should also indicate that the searcher is looking for something that your app doesn’t offer. The default setting for negative keywords is broad match, and we recommend you change the setting to exact match.

A negative keyword may be appropriate when:

  • You want to prevent your ad from showing for search queries that don’t apply to you. So if your app was about women’s fitness, adding men’s fitness as a negative keyword means your ad wouldn’t show for any searches related to men’s fitness.
  • Your campaign or ad group performance data shows a particular keyword doesn’t lead to conversions for your app. Adding it as a negative means your ad will no longer show for searches using that term.

You can add negative keywords during campaign and ad group creation, upload them using a spreadsheet in the Keywords tab, or add existing keywords as negative keywords to one or more ad groups or campaigns. Once your campaigns start running, you might find you need to add to your negative keyword list, or cut back. It’s easy to make changes anytime in the Keywords tab.

How to add negative keywords to an existing campaign or ad group

  1. From the All Keywords dashboard or the Ad Group Keywords dashboard, navigate to the Negative Keywords tab.
  2. Click the Add Negative Keywords button.
  3. Enter negative keywords to be added. Use brackets around each entry (as in [keyword]) to automatically apply the exact match type.
  4. Click Save.

If you’d prefer to bulk upload your negative keywords, choose Upload Keywords from the Actions menu to access the template (see below).

Download Negative Keywords CSV Template

You can bulk upload a maximum of 5000 negative keywords in each ad group, using up to 5000 rows in the spreadsheet at a time.

How to use negative keyword match types

Exact match (negative keywords)

This match type ensures that your ad doesn’t show for an exact word or phrase. It doesn’t block your ad from close variants like common misspellings and plurals. We recommend using exact match to avoid inadvertently excluding your ad from showing for relevant searches.

For example:
Say you have an advanced puzzles app, and you’re using the keyword puzzles. You may want to add the exact match negative keyword kids puzzles so your ad doesn’t show for that specific term, and you don’t spend money on an audience that your app doesn’t intend to serve. Note that a search for kids puzzles apps will result in your ad being shown since the exact match negative keyword is precise to the phrase kids puzzles.

Broad match (negative keywords)

To ensure that your ad doesn’t appear for words or phrases you select, use broad match. All the words in your broad match negative keywords need to be present for your ad to be blocked. If a synonym or close variant is used, your ad still appears.

For example:
If you have an advanced puzzles app and use kids puzzle games as your broad match negative keyword, your ad won’t appear on kids puzzle games or puzzle games kids but would still appear on search queries like kids puzzle apps. If you want to block kids puzzle apps as well, add kids puzzle as your broad match negative keyword.

Learn more about match types

How to add keywords as negative keywords

  1. From the All Keywords or Ad Groups dashboard, select the keywords you’d like to add as negatives (up to 50 per page).
  2. Open the Actions menu and choose Add as Negative Keywords.
  3. Within the Add Keywords as Negative Keywords page, select whether you want to add the new terms at the campaign or ad group level.
  4. Enter the name of the campaign or ad group where you’d like to add the negative keywords, or select from the list that appears.
  5. Adjust your match type if needed. As a reminder, exact match is recommended.
  6. Click the Add button.