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How to Find Negative Keywords on Amazon

By Anastasiia Lavrova | 16 June 2022 | 7 mins read

PPC (pay per click) advertising can be costly. Negative keywords are an essential strategy for cutting expenditures without compromising results. They let you block adverts from displaying for search queries that you’ve determined are irrelevant or low priority. The goal is to figure out which search terms to include in your negative keyword list.

We’ll show you how to find negative keywords for your listings and how to utilize negative keywords to reduce wasted ad spend and enhance ROAS (return on advertising spend)/adjust ACOS (advertising cost of sales). Finally, we’ll show you how to go beyond negative keywords and use exact-match PPC bids on Amazon. Let’s get right to it!

Negative Keywords 101

As the name implies, negative keywords are the polar opposite of keywords. They are keywords that you emphasize to avoid making bids on, rather than words/search terms you want to bid on for PPC ad placements (“positive keywords”). Your ad will not appear if a negative keyword or phrase comes into the user search criteria.

How to Incorporate Negative Keywords Into Your Amazon Marketing Campaign

Navigate to “Campaign Manager” under the “Advertising” tab in Seller Central to add new negative keywords.

You can then enter negative keyword information at the campaign or ad group level by selecting negative keywords.

Now it’s time to learn how to choose negative keywords and manage campaigns.

Broad Match, Phrase Match, and Exact Match

On Amazon, keywords are divided into three groups. Two of them work with negative keywords, while the third is just for positive keywords. These are the categories:

Exact match: This refers to search queries that include the plural variation of the seed term. A negative keyword of “kitchen knife,” for example, would prevent your ad from showing up in searches for “kitchen knife” and “kitchen knives.” It would have no effect on searches for “Japanese kitchen knife” or “kitchen knife set.”

Phrase match: This refers to search queries similar to the seed phrase but is used more broadly than precise match. Only close variations are considered, and the word order is preserved. In this case, phrase match would capture “Japanese kitchen knife” and “kitchen knife set,” but not “knives for kitchen” — nor would a synonym like “chef knife.”

Broad match includes all search queries linked to the seed term, such as synonyms and other broad choices. Broad match parameters are only available for positive keywords and cannot be used for negative keywords. However, a positive broad match phrase such as “kitchen knife” might contain synonyms such as “chef knife” or “bread knife,” as well as wholly unrelated products such as “toy kitchen knife,” “knife block,” or “knife sharpening.”

FYI: A phrase’s “negative” and “positive” keywords match the same way. A positive exact match keyword bid will allow your ad to display. In contrast, a negative exact match keyword bid would prevent it from appearing. One of the best uses for negative keywords, as we’ll see, is to employ exact match negative keywords to deliberately limit your positive “wide match” and “exact match” PPC campaigns.

What Can You Do With This Information?

Negative keyword selection can be more flexible thanks to the many match types for negative keywords. “exact match” is generally the best option for both advanced and novice users.

You can use an exact match to add negative keywords without worrying about unwanted repercussions. When employing phrase match, add “kitchen knife sharpener” as a negative keyword for your kitchen knife. ASIN could effectively prevent the listing from appearing for the terms “kitchen knife” and “sharp kitchen knife.”

For omitting entire categories, phrase match terms are helpful. To eliminate any kitchen toy sets, you may use “toy.” However, phrase match should be used with caution, and you should reevaluate your campaign after using these criteria.

Ad Group-Level and Campaign-Level Negative Keywords

Negative keywords can be used for entire campaigns or single ad groups in two ways. This enables you to manage your negative keywords and segment how they’re used.

Assume you sell two different types of sneakers. While one line lacks pink footwear, the other includes them. In this case, you’d want to prevent the word “pink tennis shoes” from activating adverts for sneakers that don’t come in pink.

You can apply distinct negative keywords to each product line by placing them in different ad groups—while keeping them within the same ad campaign for reporting purposes. On a campaign level, you can also set negative keywords that apply to both goods simultaneously.

What can you do with this information?

How granular you make your ad group creation will determine your capacity to engage with negative keywords flexibly. The more ad groups you partition your campaigns into, the more focused your negative keyword selection can be. Create single-product ad groups if possible. This will provide you with the most control over both positive and negative keywords.

Getting the Right Negative Keyword

The genuinely sophisticated technique to getting the most out of this PPC option is to find the proper negative keywords. There are two main approaches.

To begin, consider the most common irrelevant crossover. For example, if you’re bidding on the keyword “shoe” for a nice pair of leather brogues, you might use “running shoes.” This isn’t entirely scientific, but it should be your first line of defense.

Creating broad experimental match positive keyword campaigns and then analyzing the search keywords you appear in is a systematic way to achieve this. This gives you accurate information about irrelevant terms and helps you go further into performance analysis and eliminate underperforming and overpriced keywords.

Different analytics tools and various Amazon Brand Analytics reports can assist you in refining your keyword search and provide context on how effective these terms are to your campaign.

Improving Your Broad Match Campaigns

Negative keyword refinement for broad match campaigns is not just a terrific approach to finding good negative keywords. It’s also the most common application of negative keywords. Your ads will start to appear for various terms if you create a broad match campaign.

Begin by going over the list and removing any irrelevant outliers. Using an exact match, add them to your negative keyword list.

Then look at the numbers. As a general rule, look for three things that indicate a strong candidate for negative keyword selection:

Non-converters with a low CTR (click-through rate): These keywords aren’t helping you get sales. It’s a sign that your ad isn’t relevant if people aren’t clicking on it.

High-click non-converters: Amazon advertising is predicted to convert at a little under 10% on average. Keep in mind that industry specifics are essential. If your ad receives more than 30 or 40 clicks but no conversions, it may be dead weight. If this occurs for every search, you should look at your product page, delivery charges, and customer reviews. However, if it’s just one word, there’s probably a relevancy or audience issue.

High-spenders who don’t convert: This is the most subjective metric, ultimately affecting your ad budget. However, all keywords in the top price range should be investigated further. Consider deleting or reducing your exposure to that term if you aren’t generating enough conversions. It will assist you in reducing your spending.

Stop Letting Your Ads Compete With One Another

Negative keywords also help you avoid having your PPC bids compete with each other. Consider if you sell a variety of smartphone cases, for example. You might use negative keywords to prioritize the cases you want to sell for terms like “smartphone case” while relegating other cases to more specialized terms like “blue smartphone case.”

Amazon’s negative keywords are more typically used to optimize broad match campaigns than this method. It is, however, far easier to carry out. Analyze your product catalog for overlap and then determine which goods are more significant to your business to identify these core phrases. Consider things like the impact on customer lifetime value and vital corporate priorities.

Match Your Broad and Exact Bids Together

Amazon negative keywords are only needed to cut down on the waste of broad match and phrase match keyword bidding techniques. However, this is a clumsy shortcut to the main goal: bidding on just relevant and high-value terms.

Your ultimate goal with negative keywords should be to help you transition away from negative ones, converting all of your ads to exact match bids. Exact match bidding allows you to manage your bid price and modifiers, increase your exposure to the best terms, and ensure that low-cost/high-converting terms get capitalized.

What can you do with this information?

Establishing exact match bids on a product-by-product basis is time-consuming, which is why it isn’t usually done. However, it would be best if you always were moving items in this direction. To do so, you use the same methods you used to find solid negative keywords in the first place: you study the keywords you’re ranking for in broad match campaigns. To accomplish this, you need to make sure:

Identifying high-value phrases should be deleted totally from your broad match campaign. That entails putting that term to the broad match campaign’s negative keyword list and then establishing a new campaign with exact match bidding for that term.

You’ll gradually build up a database of precise match campaigns over time. In this eventual outcome, negative keywords’ essential purpose is to keep these exact match campaigns out of your ‘exploratory’ broad match campaigns. You’ll want to maintain ads (maybe on a lower budget) to keep hunting for new terms.

So Why Use Negative Keywords for Amazon PPC?

Negative keywords provide various advantages in Amazon PPC ads, including:

Optimize your advertising budget

Nobody likes to waste money on advertising. That’s why Amazon’s negative keywords are so helpful. You urge Amazon to cease showing your advertisements via unprofitable keywords when you add negative keywords to your Amazon PPC campaigns.

These keywords will not help your company sell today, tomorrow, or the next day. As a result, you utilize negative keywords for replacing ones that aren’t profitable. Negative keywords prevent your advertising from showing up for searches connected to your business, such as kitchen bakeware, but not to your product line, such as non-glass mixing bowls.

You can devote more of your ad budget to the terms that matter now that those keywords have been removed.

Increase the number of people who click on your links (CTR)

For Amazon, the click-through rate is a crucial user signal. The corporation uses CTR to determine how relevant a product is to a user’s search. You risk a low CTR if your product listing displays similar but irrelevant search terms.

That low CTR indicates to Amazon that your ad isn’t very relevant to specific searches. Even if the auction is for a different, more relevant keyword, Amazon will take your poor CTR into account when it comes time to bid. Negative keywords must therefore be included in your Amazon PPC campaigns.

You may use Amazon negative keywords to prevent your advertisements from showing up for searches that aren’t relevant to your business, allowing you to focus your efforts (and ad budget) on the keywords that generate sales and provide a cost-effective ACOS.

Conversion Rates Should Increase

What happens when you use Amazon negative keywords to increase your CTR and optimize your ad spend? In most circumstances, your conversion rates improve. You’ve optimized your keyword targeting and directed your ad spend to the most profitable terms, resulting in more relevant adverts.

You can expect more significant revenues and reduced ACOS numbers with better conversion rates.

Takeaway

Mastering the use of finding and utilizing negative keywords on Amazon PPC campaigns can significantly affect your business for the better. If you don’t try to get better at this strategy, you’ll be sorely left behind by your competition.

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