3 Ways to Use Negative Keywords For Amazon PPC

keyword targeting product targeting sponsored products Nov 23, 2020
negative keyword targeting amazon

For most sellers, Amazon Advertising is the second-highest expense after inventory, so getting the most bang for your buck is crucial. That’s why it is important to remove keywords that are hurting your campaigns through negative keywords for Amazon.

In this post, we'll explain what is negative keywords, how to find them and 3 ways you can use them to reduce wasted ad spend and improve your Advertising Cost of Sales (AcoS).

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords are exactly what they sound like; they are the opposite of positive keywords. Rather than selecting relevant keywords and phrases you want to bid on and have your ads show for, negative keywords are irrelevant keywords and phrases that you don't want to bid to prevent your ads from showing for. In other words, you use a, Amazon negative keyword to tell Amazon when you don’t want your ad to show.

When you add negative keywords to your PPC campaigns, if a negative keyword or phrase appears in the user search criteria, your ad won't appear in the Amazon SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and you immediately eliminate unnecessary ad spend.

Let’s say you sell a silicone spatula on Amazon, and you bid on the keyword “spatula” as a phrase match type. Without negative keywords, your ad for a silicone spatula could appear in a search for “wooden spatula” because that search query still contains the phrase “spatula.”

That shopper might even click your ad, realise it wasn’t what they wanted, and immediately leave. Amazon would still charge you for that click, but you have no sales to show for it.

3 Ways To Use Negative Keywords

1. Negative Keyword Target - Phrase

A negative phrase match prevents your ad from showing when the search query contains for search queries that contain the same sequence or close variation of your search terms including plurals and slight misspellings.

For example, if you add 'soft toothbrush' as a negative phrase, then your ads won't show up for terms such as 'cheap soft toothbrush' or 'soft toothbrush for adults.

2. Negative Keyword Target - Exact

A negative exact match relates to search queries that exactly match the seed keyword or a close variation of it including plurals. 

So if the exact negative keyword is 'soft toothbrush' your ads will not show for 'soft toothbrush' or 'soft toothbrushes' if these terms are used in the search bar exactly.

3. Negative ASIN Target

Have you ever wondered what you can do with all those random ASINs that pop up in your Search Term Reports?

Well, if there is little or no relevancy between your product and the ASIN product page that ad is showing up on, then it is highly unlikely that your ad won't convert from that ASIN. In this case, you can add it as a negative keyword just as you would a regular 'search term'.

You can now add competitor ASINs as Negatives in Auto campaigns as well to give you even greater control over your ad budget and eliminated wasted ad spend.

To get started we suggest focusing on individual ASIN targeting first as you have much more control compared to category or brand targeting.

Which Negative Target Is Best? 

We've written about the negative keyword strategy we use in our agency business before: The Single Word Negative Phrase Match Strategy.

This is where you add irrelevant single keywords as a single word negative phrase match. If used correctly this is hands down one of the most effective ways to prevent your ads from showing up for irrelevant searches. 

One single word negative phrase match keyword can eliminate dozens of irrelevant search terms. For example, let's say you sell a silicone whisk. You can add all the materials that are not relevant to your product as a single word negative phrase such as stainless, steel, plastic, etc. 

For example, let's say you sell a 'blue widget'. You can add all the colors that are not relevant to your product as a single word negative phrase such as 'red', 'green', 'yellow' and so on. This extra level of control can massively improve the performance of your ads, but only if implemented properly.

How To Find Negative Keywords

The best way to identify negative keywords is through your Amazon Search Term Report

Low CTR non-converters: These keywords are the low hanging fruit when it comes to identifying negative keyword contenders. The average CTR on Amazon is 0.4% so use that as a guide. You want to get rid of any keywords that are getting lots of impressions but have a low CTR and driving very few sales. If people aren’t clicking on your ad, it’s an indication that it’s irrelevant. 

High-click non-converters: The average conversion rate for Amazon ads is around 10%, so again use that as a benchmark. If your ads are getting lots of clicks but no or few conversions, that is an indication that there is a relevancy problem. 

High-spend low-converters: This is the most subjective metric because it is based on your ad budget and profit margins. But any high spending warrant scrutiny. 

How To Add Negative Keywords In Amazon 

You can add new negative targets (keywords or ASINs) in Seller Central by navigating to “Campaign Manager” in the “Advertising” tab.

For Negative Keywords

  1. Navigate to your desired campaign/ad group in Campaign Manager;
  2. Select 'Negative Targeting'
  3. Select 'Negative Keywords'

       4. Select which match type you want, 'negative exact' or 'negative phrase'. 


     5. Add your negative keywords, one per line.

     6. Click “Add keywords” then “Save.”

For Negative ASINs

  1. Navigate to your desired campaign/ad group in Campaign Manager
  2. Select 'Negative Targeting'
  3. Select 'Negative Product Targets'

      4. Add the negative ASINs, one per line.

      5. Click “Add keywords” then “Save.”

Benefits of Negative Keywords

Negative keywords can help boost the performance of your campaigns by improving the overall relevancy of your ads as they narrow down your targeting to ensure your ads only show up for relevant searches. Benefits include:

  • Reduces wasted ad spend: prevents your ad budget being eaten up by search terms that drive lots of impressions and clicks but few conversions;
  • Higher click-thru-rates (CTR): negative keywords lead to a higher CTR which results in your ads being shown more frequently and more prominently in higher ad placements
  • Increased conversion: negative keywords drive higher-quality traffic to your listing to improve the conversion rate because you are appearing only to customers who are interested in your products
  • Improved Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS): an improved conversion rate will, in turn, improve your ACoS as you are no longer wasting money on useless clicks


Negative keywords for Amazon are an essential element of any good PPC strategy because they keep your campaigns laser-focused both in terms of keyword relevancy and budget. 

By helping to reduce wasteful ad spend and allowing you to reinvest those savings in what is working further improves relevancy which in turn improves overall campaign performance and that all important ACoS.

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