Negative Keywords: How To Drastically Reduce needless Ad Spend

PPC Entourage Notebook Series

How many of you would like to scale your PPC campaigns while spending less money to get each sale?

PPC (pay-per-click) is one of the most popular and cost-effective ways available to any online entrepreneur who wishes to have their listing(s) found in the vast competitive marketplace that is Amazon today.

Those who master PPC strategies now will benefit from good keyword placement for years to come, giving them an important advantage in the rapidly changing landscape of the Amazon marketplace.

By following the steps outline in this special report, you will be able to reduce the cost of each PPC campaign, thereby increasing your business's profitability...realizing more profits per click. It's critical that you implement this insider-knowledge as quickly as possible before your competitors do.

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Part I: Why Negative Keywords Should Be a Part of Every PPC

Negative keywords can help any Amazon Seller to gain a competitive edge. They are one of the most powerful, yet routinely overlooked enhancements for PPC campaigns. Negative keywords allow you to spend less money when creating a new PPC campaign, or to scale an existing one.

Negative Keywords work like a filter. They help to ensure that Amazon Sellers succeed in getting their products connected to search terms that are actually relevant to the products they are listing, while avoiding needless ad spends on keywords which are generating clicks without conversions.

Negative keywords can work differently in your PPC campaigns according to how they are used.

Negative Phrase match - This will eliminate the search term phrase used, in any order that it is placed in the query by an Amazon customer.

For example, Lets say you entered a negative phrase match in your PPC Campaign of sci-fi novel,  So if a shopper types in “best sci-fi novel” then the ad won’t show because sci-fi novel appeared as a phrase match in the customer's query.

If someone searches for only one of the terms in your phrase, your ad will still appear.

For example, if your negative is sci-fi novel and a shopper searches for historical novel, your ad will still appear. This also means that if additional words are used in the search query, such as sci-fi romance novel, your ad will still appear because sci-fi and novel are not next to each other in the search query.

Negative Exact match - this match type will eliminate very little traffic as it only
excludes searches for the exact term or terms in the order they are used. If a shopper uses any other term or terms in the search, the ad will still appear.

For example, a shopper would have to type in sci-fi novel in order for that ad to not appear on Amazon.


Negative keywords allow you to clean up your PPC campaigns. By determining
which words are not producing results, ad spend can be eliminated, saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the future, if done properly. This also creates more opportunities for the ad to display on searches that are relevant and could lead to conversions.

Negative keywords separate the people who kick the tires from those who actually buy the car. Here is an example of how an Amazon Seller would use negative keywords to refine a target audience for a product...

A seller was presenting ads for Montblanc pens that retailed starting at $200 based off of the search term "pens".

Unfortunately, over the next 30 days, his allocated ad spend for the campaign was drained by people looking for promotional pens, engraving pens, customized pens, cheap pens and even baby pens.

Using negative keywords to filter PPC campaigns can save Amazon Sellers money, while improving the overall performance of their campaigns. The objective is to match shopper intent with the most relevant product.


Negative keywords benefit your campaign(s) in these important ways by:

  • Lowering your overall conversion costs (save money initially and over the long term by adding them into your campaign early)
  • Increases your clickthrough rates (percentage of searchers who viewed your ad and decided to click on it)
  • Increases your conversion rate (percentage of searchers who clicked on your ad and go on to convert into buyers)
  • Influence Amazon to give your listing preferred viewing ( because your listing is converting better )

Part II: 10 Steps for Discovering & Utilizing Negative Keywords in
Your Campaigns

Bidding on the best keywords in your niche is only half the battle. Your success as a seller on Amazon depends in part, upon having a precise and extensive group of negative keywords that are steadily growing and being refined based on real data.

This means you must give meticulous attention to the process of discovering and utilizing them in each of your campaigns. Following these 10 steps can help you to do this.

1.) Determine YOUR most appropriate ACOS - Obviously, you want to make a profit using PPC, or at the very least, break even on a sale, so that you can improve organic rankings and sales for that keyword or search term. To know if you are making a profit, or breaking even, you must first determine your profit margins.

For example, if you sale an item for $20, all of your expensive including FBA charges = $10, this means you can spend $10 or less to make a sale. Your ACOS (average cost of sale) would be 50%.

A low ACOS means more profits. It's up to each Amazon Seller to determine what ACOS Comfort Zone is appropriate for them.

2) Download the most recent search term report. (Make sure that you are
collecting weekly search term reports).

3) Open up Excel or Numbers; open the search term report on Excel or Numbers. From your search term report in the excel spreadsheet, look at the keywords and search terms that are producing sales within your appropriate ACOS range determined by step one. Also, look at the search terms and keywords that produce no sales but have generated clicks and ad spend.

4) Sort the report by descending ACOS. Now copy all of the keywords that are above 40% ACOS or 0% where you were charged.

5) Create a list of search terms based on this list. Break it down into customer search terms and Keyword. ( To learn about the difference between keywords and search terms, please refer to our notebook series on this subject)

6) For each keyword that came up, log into your PPC campaign and enter
that term into the search bar. Check to see how that keyword is performing overall. If it is not performing well based on ACOS, consider lowering the bid. We have had success with lowering the bid to 5-10 cents.

7) For customer search terms, consider adding those terms into your campaigns as exact match negative keywords. Look for whole phrases eating up your budget the most. 

8) Take a look at the customer search terms on your list - look for individual words that could be driving up your PPC costs. (For example: the broad keyword pens generated an ad when people searched for promotional pens,  even though your product is an expensive pen.  Hypothetically, this resulted in 66 clicks with no sales. Select the word promotional and add to your broad negative keyword list.) Be sure to create a running list of phrase negative keywords.

9) Create a running list of negative phrase and negative exact keywords to use for new campaigns in the future.

10) Important! Analyze your reports weekly and update your running negative/phrase match lists.

Part III: The Problem at Hand...

Unfortunately, many Amazon Sellers are NOT taking full advantage of negative keywords by first identifying as many of them as possible and then by making sure that they are placed into the appropriate automatic or manual campaign.

Most experienced Amazon Sellers recognize the importance of negative keywords in reducing ad spends and increasing profits. However, they are often frustrated and drained by having to spend hour-after-painful-hour identifying every possible negative keyword through the data provided by their Amazon Search Term Report.

Even though each additional negative keyword assigned to a particular campaign may contribute to the overall profitably of that campaign, some Amazon Sellers routinely abandon the process before its completion due to feelings of overwhelm (victims of “data-dump overload”) and because there simply aren’t enough hours in their entrepreneurial days to develop a truly comprehensive list.

Part IV: How Elite Sellers Will Crush Their Competition in the New
Amazon Landscape

Amazon is going through a paradigm shift in how its merchants can use information to profit. Sponsored Products advertising is going to drive keyword success, negative keyword success and revenue. It is a program that allows sellers to promote their product listings on the Amazon search results page. These ads are based on keywords that match shoppers’ search queries.

The Elite Sellers will need new cutting-edge tools to meet the challenges posed by the shifting sands of the Amazon landscape in order to rise to the top of their niche...dominating and crushing their competition.

Ideally, Amazon Sellers will have access to a cost-effective resource...a PPC Entourage of tools that would significantly speed up this process. It would enable them to reduce ad spend, improve their sales velocity and allow more profits per click by quickly identifying the best negative keywords and phrases to be laser- targeted for use in present and future campaigns.

This information, (along with other core components necessary for maximizing ROI for each PPC dollar spent), would be delivered as weekly alerts and in easy to read monthly PPC performance analysis reports containing time-saving, scannable charts and graphs.

Using negative keywords to boost the results for every campaign would become a fast and virtually automated “paste and click” process. Amazon Sellers would have the most current information available at their fingertips... actionable intelligence to be leveraged in creating PPC campaigns that get noticed and that help to increase profits month-after-month.

We have very promising news through. PPC Entourage, a new tool being developed by successful Amazon sellers is about to make your a splash in the PPC community and promises to help Amazon sellers cut needless ad spend, in as little as 10 minutes per week! 

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PPC Entourage Notebook Series