How to Use Negative Keywords in Yahoo! Search Marketing

Match types can be tricky, especially when it comes to adding negative match keywords. Negative match keywords (or keyword exclusions) are a very effective way to reduce the number of unqualified clicks on your ad. But negatives can get confusing, and often times a manager will inadvertently add a negative that prevents a targeted keyword from showing ads. To me, Google keyword match types and negative match is pretty straightforward. My confusion settles in when it comes to adding negative keywords in Yahoo.

Recently in one of my Yahoo accounts I launched a campaign with keywords targeting satellite tv terms. However, I did not want my ads show up for a broad search term like tv or satellite. Herein my question: If I add tv and satellite as negatives, will that prevent satellite tv from triggering my ad all together? Before I get to answering this question, here is a quick review of the Yahoo keyword match types. Remember that these are set at the account level within your Yahoo account.

  • Standard Match: Search query trigger an ad for an exact match to a keyword. This includes singular or plural variations, and common misspellings.
  • Advanced Match: Ads are triggered for a broad range of queries related to a keyword, title, description or web content. This is the default setting in Yahoo.

If you are using Standard Match in Yahoo, it is not necessary to use account exclusions. Your ads will only be served if someone enters the exact keyword you are targeting. Negative keywords (or exclusions) only apply at the account or ad group level when you have your account set to Advanced Match.

Yahoo’s negative keyword feature is not as clear-cut as Google’s negative match type system. You have to be careful of the keywords you add as negatives, because you may be preventing your ads from showing. Back to my example.

If a search query exactly matches to a keyword you are targeting, then your account-excluded keywords will not prevent your ad from showing. In my example, I am targeting satellite tv channels but have tv and satellite as a negatives. If the search query is an exact match to satellite tv channels, my ads will show.

However, a negative keyword can prevent your ads from showing when the search query just matches a keyword phrase. In the same example, I am targeting satellite tv channels and have tv and satellite as a negatives. But the search query is the phrase: best satellite tv channels. Unless I am targeting this exact phrase in my account, my keyword exclusions will prevent my ads from showing.

In this case it would be best to set negative keywords at the ad group level. The terms satellite and tv should only be added as negatives to the ad group that contains the broad satellite tv term. These negative terms are too limiting for longtail search queries like satellite tv channels and best satellite tv channels, so these ad groups do not need negative keywords.