Amazon PPC 2019: A Guide to Negative Keywords


Are you paying extraordinary amounts of money for an Amazon Sponsored Ad without seeing the return on your investment?


Your ad could be optimizing for irrelevant keywords, which increases your clicks without aggregating sales. With a pay-per-click advertising format, you want every click to convert to a sale.


But if your ad is appearing to unrelated customer searches, you could be getting a high number of clicks without the associated sales. You’re spending money on keywords that aren’t even associated with your product.


Relevance and conversion is critical to Amazon Sponsored Ads.


Negative keywords help ensure that each click is relevant to your product and brand. Negative keywords are one of the most effective means of reducing your advertising costs while improving relevance, click-through, and conversion.


But most sellers find negative keywords confusing and overwhelming.


So let’s unpack negative keywords to help make your advertising more efficient and cost-effective.


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What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are used to block your ad from appearing in certain search results. This allows you to filter out any words or phrases that aren’t related to your product but could be costing you clicks and advertising expense.


But why would you want this? Isn’t it best to optimize for every keyword in order to gain visibility?


No. You don’t want to show up in any and all searches. You only want to show up in relevant searches with quality prospects.


If your ad is optimizing for keywords that don’t relate to your product, you’ll have a low conversion rate. Your listing will get clicks and impressions—but the customers will quickly click away when they realize the product isn’t relevant to them.


This means you’ll have a high click-through-rate (CTR) with a low conversion. This can hurt your listing optimization and seller ranking, which damages your ability to win the Buy Box and optimize listings moving forward.


Basically, negative keywords ensure that your product’s advertisement is relevant to your customer’s search. This ensures only pertinent potential customers see and click on your ad. You aren’t wasting “clicks” on irrelevant customers, especially when “clicks” equate to cost of advertising in a pay-per-click format like Amazon’s Sponsored Ad campaign.



Let’s say, for example, you sell children’s ride-on cars, where the child can sit in and control the car as it moves. But your advertisement is appearing when customers search for “kids toy cars” while looking for small, handheld toy cars. Your product is a toy car and it’s for kids, but it’s not applicable to that kind of “toy car” search.


You may then want to use the negative keyword “toy car” to ensure you don’t show up in those searches anymore. You can still show up in “kids’ cars” searches and “kids’ toy” searches, though, as these aren’t in your negative keyword list. This doesn’t hurt your optimization for relevant searches, but it removes the consumers looking for a different type of toy car.


What are The Benefits Of Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords refine your product target to the most relevant searches. You exclude terms that aren’t related to your product or brand, focusing in on those keywords and searches that drive sales.


This relevancy improves your click-through and conversion rate. You are appearing only to those customers who are interested in your product. This means that the people clicking on your product listing are prospects—rather than accidental viewers. These prospects are more likely to convert into purchasers.


An improved conversion rate, in turn, improves your return on marketing investment or ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale). You’re not wasting money on “useless” clicks that don’t convert. You’re only paying for those clicks that go to potential customers.


Negative keywords ensure that your impressions and clicks are potential sales leads.


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"While each of your campaign targeting types may function well on their own,  they have the potential to operate like a well-oiled machine together."  -Click to Tweet-


How Do You Find Negative Keywords?

How do you know which keywords and phrases should be compiled in your “Negative Keywords.”


1. Search Term Report

Analyzing your Search Term Report on a consistent and regular basis will help you see which keywords are draining your advertising expense. This report will show you all of the search terms that triggered your ads in the past 60 days.


Start by searching through the report and recording any searches that are blatantly not linked to your product. For example, if your kids’ car advertisement appeared in a search for “kids’ shoes,” then you should add “kids’ shoes” or “shoes” into your negative keywords to avoid improper optimization.


However, not all search terms will be obvious. You may need to dig a little deeper to see which search terms are hurting your conversion rate. Start by sorting by highest impressions, which shows the most popular search queries. Sort also by highest spend to see which keywords are costing you the most money.


Then, look at each search term’s CTR and conversion rate. If the term has a high click-through but low conversion, it’s likely not a relevant search term for your advertisement.


If you see search terms with high volume and high click through but low conversion, add them to your Negative Keywords list.


This is a more reactive approach, but it’s important to utilize if you want to minimize your expense. We recommend checking your STR every 30 days to best update your negative keywords.


2. Negative Keyword Research

If you want a more proactive approach to avoid wasteful spending at the start of your campaign, you can perform research for negative keywords.Often, this can feel like a “guessing game,” but there are a few ways to find and weed out irrelevant keywords.


Search bar: Start typing in your keywords or potential searches into Amazon. For example, you could start searching for “kids car.” Amazon will automatically fill in related search terms. Look at the auto-suggestions to see what else people are searching when they type in “kids car.” Those suggestions that aren’t related can help you choose which phrases to use in your negative keywords. Unrelated words: If there are words you never want to be associated with your product, put them in the Negative Keywords. For example, if you are a luxury product, you might not want your advertisement optimizing for the word “cheap.” Or if you sell a blue product, you may not want it showing up in “red” searches. This helps narrow the search based on how you want your product viewed and found by customers. WordStream: WordStream offers a free negative keyword tool. You enter a keyword, and it will find modifiers that can help you choose those terms that are not relevant to your offerings. For example, we researched “air filter” in WordStream and found several negative contenders with high volume searches, like “car air filter” and “furnace air filter.” (This can give you ideas for more relevant keywords for your listing as well.)


Recommended Read: Headline Search Ads For 3P Sellers.


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How Do You Use Creative Negative Keywords?

Under Campaign Manager, click on the Campaign Settings tab. Then click on “negative keywords.” Any phrases you include in this box will be excluded from the auction of keywords on which you’re bidding—both purposefully and accidentally. Be sure to click “Add these keywords” to save.


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Negative Keyword Levels

There are two levels of negative keywords: Campaign and Ad Group.


The Campaign level applies the negative keywords to all the ads in your campaign. This applies to all words that are never associated with your products, like “cheap” if you’re a luxury product or “disposable” if you pride yourself on reusable products.


The Ad Group level applies those negative keywords to a specific product listing and ad in the campaign. For example, if you don’t want your kids’ ride-on car to have the keyword “toy cars,” you’ll include that in the Negative Keywords box for that specific ad. But you may have another product listing that might optimize for “toy cars.”


Negative Keyword Match

There are two options for matching keywords: exact match and phrase match.


The exact match is more common. This is when you want the ad to be excluded for that specific term. For example, you include “toy cars” in your ad’s Negative Keywords. When someone searches for “toy cars,” “blue toy cars” or “small toy cars,” your ad won’t show up because they searched for the exact phrase “toy cars.” However, if they search for “cars toy,” your ad may still appear. This option generally gives you the most control over excluding certain searches without limiting your visibility to consumers.


The phrase match excludes variations of a particular term. For example, with “toy cars,” it may also not include synonyms like “car toys.” This is broader, so it may not be applicable to all campaigns.


Our New Negation Strategy

Here at Seller’s Choice we’ve taken the pride of implementing a new strategy when it comes to adding negative keywords and streamlining ad spend. As you pull new terms from your auto campaigns and add them as broad, phrase and exact matches, you have to remember to negate them in the previous campaign. While each of your campaign targeting types may function well on their own, they have the potential to operate like a well-oiled machine with the purpose of returning the most efficient sales.


A keyword pulled from auto campaigns and ferried through the process of being a broad, phrase, and exact match will ultimately be more profitable when targeted correctly. Don’t leave it up to users and Amazon’s algorithm to bring relevant consumers to your listings. Extract the data and focus your budget on what works!


The Bottom Line

Consistently reevaluating your ad’s search terms, CTR, and conversion is important to understand where your advertising spend is going. You want to add and subtract negative keywords as necessary to avoid throwing money at irrelevant searches and clicks.


Negative Keywords can be your Amazon PPC secret weapon. They help decrease advertising costs without decreasing visibility and conversions for relevant prospects. If you want to stop spending money on worthless impressions and bring in quality searches that convert—you need negative keywords. 


Do you want to keep your advertising spend low with a high return?


Check out Amazon’s Sponsored Ads services to ensure you have the greatest visibility to quality, relevant customers.

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