Negative Keywords For Amazon PPC: Everything You Need To Know!

Negative Keywords for Positive Amazon PPC Outcomes

Most sellers understand the importance of identifying relevant keywords, but many fail to identify irrelevant keywords, which is nearly as important for achieving positive advertising outcomes. We have compiled a three-part series on Negative keywords for Amazon PPC to provide you a complete guide on the following topics:

  1. What are the Negative Keywords? How to pick them and use them to improve your Advertising performance?
  2. How to add these Negative Keywords in your Amazon campaign?
  3. How to use Negative keywords to De-duplicate records?

Let us start from the very basics and hit the advanced level on all things negative keywords by the end of this series.

What Are Amazon Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are used to prevent Amazon sponsored ads from appearing in specific search results. When customer searches include negative match keywords, ads are not shown for that search. By adding irrelevant or poor-performing terms as negative match keywords, sellers can improve their search relevancy and generate more clicks from high intent shoppers.

Why wouldn’t I want my ads to be displayed? I want my products in front of as many shoppers as possible!

The answer is simple: Not every keyword is going to be profitable. Why waste money on keywords that won’t convert when that spend could be used to increase placement for profitable keywords or to bid new keywords that will net larger returns?

When utilizing broad or phrase match keywords, sellers can easily tag on descriptors irrelevant to your products. For example, if I am selling a heavy-duty canvas apron used for woodworking, I may wish to bid on the keyword ‘canvas apron’. Though the keyword is relevant, my ad is going to be displayed to shoppers searching for cooking, baking, and grilling canvas aprons. When clicked, these keywords will not convert well since my product is purpose-built for woodworking. By setting negative keywords for cooking, baking, kitchen, and grilling I can eliminate these keywords from triggering impressions and wasting spend.

Benefits of Negative Keywords For Amazon PPC:

  • Bidding on short-tail keywords becomes feasible.
  • Allows more aggressive bidding for top-performing keywords since click-through, conversion rate and ACoS will be more favorable.
  • Helps eliminate keywords with low click-through-rate: an important factor that determines ad placement (in addition to bid, conversion, sales velocity, etc.).
  • Helps improve ranking, sales, and profitability.

Locations & Match Types

Negative keywords can be added to either campaigns or ad groups. Campaign negative keywords apply to all ad groups nested within the campaign, whereas ad group negative keywords apply to only that ad group. As a general rule, plan on adding negative keywords to ad groups over campaigns.

Negative keywords can have either a negative exact or negative phrase match type. The negative exact match does not allow ads to display when the customer search query matches the negative keyword exactly. Negative phrase keywords eliminate impressions for customer search queries that have the keyword string somewhere in the search string. Negative phrase keywords are far more restrictive than negative exact and are used less frequently, though they certainly have their place.

Note: Negatives can only be added for keywords, and not for product/category targeting.

How To Select Negative Keywords?

Data makes decisions easier. At Ad Advance, we recommend running the campaigns for around 2-4 weeks before adding negative keywords. By doing so, you can utilize actual reports to make data-driven decisions. However, when launching new campaigns, you may already have an idea of specific keywords you wish to exclude from search.

When adding negatives based on intuition, you run the risk of eliminating profitable keywords. Preemptive negatives have their place but just don’t go overboard. In the example earlier in this article, we were targeting the keyword ‘canvas apron’ for a woodworking apron and wished to avoid any cooking-related keywords. In such an instance, you may wish to set negative phrase matches for keywords like cooking, grilling, or baking, or you may wish to set negative match keywords for canvas apron for cooking, canvas apron for baking, or grilling canvas apron. Setting these negatives based on intuition may save some unproductive spend since they aren’t relevant to the product.

There is no use in setting negative keywords preemptively if Amazon isn’t serving you impressions for irrelevant keywords. For example, I wouldn’t set ‘dog’ as a negative phrase keyword for the canvas apron, since I don’t expect customers to be searching ‘canvas aprons for dogs’. Rather than spending time trying to come up with a list of potential irrelevant keywords, let campaigns run for a few weeks and then check actual search data to see if any irrelevant keywords are generating impressions.

The best way to find potential negative keywords is by utilizing a Search Term Report. This report shows all customer search terms that received an impression and their associated metrics. By filtering on various performance criteria, we can come up with a list of negative keywords.

To download and filter a Search Term Report, use the following instructions:

  1. Log in to Seller Central or the Advertising Console.
  2. Click the ‘Advertising’ tab.
  3. Click the ‘Advertising reports’ tab.
  4. Sponsored Products and Search Term report should be selected by default.
  5. For the reporting period, we recommend expanding the horizon as long as it allows (2 months).
  6. Use the ‘Total’ data unit, NOT ‘Daily’.
  7. Click ‘Create report’.
  8. Wait a minute, refresh the page, and click the ‘Download’ link under the File header.
  9. After a search term report is run, filter the report in excel. You will filter for various poor performance criteria.
    • Criteria 1: High ACoS. Filter for ACoS greater than a certain threshold (e.g. greater than 100%). Copy all records for these search terms (notably campaign, ad group, and search term) to a new tab.
    • Criteria 2: No/Low Conversion. Filter on Sales = 0, and clicks > X, where X = Average Conversion Rate x 200. Copy all records to the new tab you created in the step 9a.
    • Criteria 3: No sales, high spend. Filter on Sales = 0 and spend > Y, where Y = Average Product Price for the ad group. If these search terms converted on the next click, they would produce an ACoS > 100%. Copy all records to the new tab you created in step 9a.
      Pro Tip: If you have high spend and low clicks, it’s likely you simply overbid. Review whether adjusting the keyword bid is a better course of action.

These are high-level examples that will negate the worst performing keywords. Determining the criteria depends largely on the unique factors of the products you sell.

The filtered list you created in Step 9 will show you the campaign, ad group, and search terms, and metrics of search terms that meet the criteria you specify. Use this data to add negatives in Seller Central or using Bulk Operations, which is covered in the next blog.

Bottom Line

Negative keywords have the power to transform unprofitable campaigns into profitable ones. They help improve efficiency, ranking, ad placement, and overall sales. Use Negative keywords wisely and watch out the magic that it brings in your Amazon advertising. Be sure to check out our other blogs in this series and make use of our free tools to optimize your Amazon PPC.

Want some more help?

Ad Advance is at your disposal. Feel free to reach out to our team for a free consultation with our PPC experts.