Understanding Negative Keywords in Amazon PPC

Rick Wong 9 November 2020

Do you want to successfully optimize your Amazon PPC campaign? One of the many things you need to do is to clearly identify your “negative keywords.” Without identifying these keywords, your ads may be put to waste as they may appear on irrelevant, low-converting, and unprofitable search terms and search results pages (SERPs).

Negative Keywords Explained

Amazon PPC has an optional setting that allows you to add negative keywords to your ad campaign or ad group. This feature can save you from irrelevant ad spend as it lets you filter out customer searches that are either not related to your products or keywords that are too broad, too specific, or are over-competitive.

For example, if you are selling a gray water bottle, you can enter “blue” as a negative phrase keyword. This way, when buyers search for “blue water bottles”, your product won’t appear on the search results pages (SERP). And since Amazon charges advertisers per click, fixing the negative targeting will lessen the possibility of wasting click costs on your ad. This setting is not permanent, so you can easily adjust it based on the performance of your ads.

Negative Exact vs. Negative Phrase

You have two match options when setting up negative keywords. The first option is called ‘negative phrase,’ while the other one is called ‘negative exact.’

  • Negative Phrase Match

Choosing ‘negative phrase’ will make your product unsearchable for search queries that contain words in the negative phrase match type, with allowance for minimal misspelled words and plurals. For example, if you are selling a gray water bottle for the gym, you can add the negative phrase “blue.” This means that when someone searches for the keyword “blue water bottle for babies,” your product won’t appear on the search results. To help you visualize, here’s a quick illustration:

Negative phrase match: blue

  • Negative Exact Match

On the other hand, negative exact removes your ad from search queries with the exact negative keywords you provided, with allowance for minimal misspelled words and plurals. To help you visualize, here’s a quick illustration:

Negative exact match: blue water bottle

It will be easier for you to determine whether you need to use the negative exact or negative phrase, as well as which words make more sense to eliminate, by reviewing which keywords worked and which didn’t get clicks based using your Search Term reports on Amazon advertising.

Top 3 Benefits of Using Negative Keywords

Here are some of the reasons why you need to identify and set up Amazon negative keywords on your PPC campaign:

Avoid wasted ad spend

As mentioned, Amazon bills advertisers based on clicks. If your ad appears on an irrelevant search results page, there’s a huge chance that shoppers would click on your ad, but not convert into a sale. Without using negative keywords, you may blow up your budget on search queries that are meaningless to what you offer.

Better product ranking

Advertising for bad search terms may also result to unqualified leads, and lower click through rates (CTR). In Amazon’s algorithm, when you and a competitor are targeting the same search results page, Amazon would decide on which seller gets the better positioning based on the history of the products.

If your ad appears on multiple irrelevant search queries, your CTR will be affected and will give a negative effect on your product performance. Because of that, Amazon may view your ad as less-worthy than your competitor’s ad for the top spot on the search results. Using negative keywords can help prevent this, and may even help improve your organic ranking.

Avoid keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization happens when you have two ad groups or campaigns that are competing for the same keyword. For example, if you sell both gray water bottles for working out and blue water bottles for babies, and you bid on the phrase match keyword “water bottles,” both products may appear for search queries containing “water bottles”. The order of which ad or product will appear on search results is not within your control, and there’s a chance that one product will outrank the other product regardless if it is the more relevant product.

Using negative keywords helps you to determine which products to prioritize for each keyword, as well as block specific keywords that you want to use for other products.

Other Factors to Consider in Optimizing Your PPC Campaign

Apart from using negative keywords, the following factors can also help you optimize your Amazon PPC campaigns.

1. Targeting the Right Audience

Know the interests, shopping behavior and personas of your target market can help you formulate the right keywords to use and not to use for your campaign.

2. Bid Optimization

Keywords perform differently, that’s why they don’t have the same worth in terms of bid. Be sure to bid more on high-performing keywords, and less on low-performing keywords. You can master this by regularly reviewing the performance of the keywords you use on your campaigns, as well as by tracking your previous ACoS and more.

3. Market Research

Doing your research can help make all things easier for you. Keep an eye on the best keywords to use (those that convert to sales). and read about campaigns that work and do not work. Staying updated on Amazon PPC updates can also help you stay on top of your game.

4. Competitors

Using a competitor’s brand name as a negative keyword may not always be the best decision. In fact, at times, making your product visible on a competitor’s page can give your product a competitive edge by giving shoppers more options.

Step-by-step Guide in Adding Negative Keywords

Ready to add negative keywords to your campaign? Great. So how do you exclude words from amazon search? We’ve provided the steps below. Remember that you can adjust them as often as you want, but we recommend that you do it at least once a week upon checking your performance report.

  1. Click on the Negative Keywords tab.
Amazon PPC Negative Keywords

2. Choose whether you want to use ‘Negative Phrase’ or ‘Negative Exact.’

3. Add the negative keywords you want to include in each line.

Amazon PPC Negative Keywords

4. Click “Add keywords” and then “Save”.

Amazon PPC Negative Keywords

How can SellerMetrics help?

1. On the Automation Settings Screen, add a new negative keywords rule by clicking on the “+” symbol on the corresponding campaign you want to set the negative rules for.

Negative Keyword Rules 1

2. On the pop up enter the rules name, the destination of the negative keyword and click threshold before keywords are triggered. Click “Create Rule”

Negative Keyword Rules 2

3. Once the rule is set, you can see the results on the “Negative Keyword” with the keywords that have triggered the rule you set in set 2. You can then select one or many keywords to be pushed into the negative target list on your Amazon ad console.

Negative Keyword Screen

Final Thoughts

A good Amazon PPC campaign provides you a greater opportunity of getting higher clicks to sales conversions, better product rankings, more efficient audience targeting, and avoid irrelevant advertising costs. Please keep in mind that it’s important to assess which keywords work and do not work to also help ensure that every click you pay for is spent wisely.

Finally, if you’re having a hard time navigating Amazon PPC, we offer Amazon software that can help you structure your ad campaigns, automate your bids based on campaign level rules, use the best keywords, get performance reports easily, and more. To learn more about our product, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, or visit our Amazon software home page.

If you have questions or insights to share, please feel free to post them via the comments section. Please also consider joining our Facebook Group where we discuss any questions you may have about running an Amazon business.

We are SellerMetrics, our Amazon PPC Software helps Amazon sellers, brands, KDP Authors and agencies navigate Amazon Advertising PPC via bid automation, bulk manual bid changes, and analytics.




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