Using Negative Keywords in Google Shopping Campaigns

Most of Google’s ad formats use keywords to decide when to display your ads. Google Shopping Campaigns are a little different – the information in your Merchant Center data feed determines when your products will display, much like onsite search engine optimization determines your placement on Google’s organic search results.

Although Google Shopping Campaigns don’t use keywords in the traditional sense, negative keywords are a great asset for increasing the efficiency of your ads. Negative keywords allow you to add terms for which you do not want your product to display.

If you have a product with a high number of clicks but very few conversions, you might find that irrelevant search terms are leading traffic to your site.  Negative keywords provide a solution to non-converting traffic by preventing your products from appearing in a search with keywords that are irrelevant to your product. This saves your campaign budget by preventing clicks from customers who are looking for something you don’t sell.

Negative keywords can have three formats: exact match, phrase match, or broad match.

Exact match negative keywords (which are denoted by -[negative keyword]) will only exclude search terms that include your negative keyword EXACTLY as you have written it. Exact match negative keywords are useful when you know of a specific search term that your products are commonly mistaken for.

For example, a company that sells home wallpaper might have an issue with their ads displaying on searches for ‘desktop wallpaper,’ where people are obviously searching for images for their computer background. In this case, using the exact match negative keyword  -[desktop wallpaper] will prevent your ads from displaying unnecessarily for people looking to spice up their desktop.

Phrase match negative keywords (denoted by -“negative keyword”) will prevent your products from showing for any search query containing the negative keyword phrase. For your product to be excluded from displaying, the search query can include additional words before or after the keyword, but the negative keyword itself must appear with all words in the same order.

Continuing from the example above, say the interior wallpaper company chooses to use negative phrase match. They could use a negative keyword like -“4th of july” to prevent their ads from appearing on searches for seasonal patriotic wallpaper.

Broad match negative keywords (denoted by  -negative keyword) will exclude your product from search terms which broad match your product.  This means that as long as all the terms in the negative keyword are included, queries with additional terms would be seen as a match and your products will be prevented from displaying. Broad match keywords are useful for companies that sell very specific products, and know that they must eliminate a range of possible searches before finding target customers.

The wallpaper company could use negative broad match for a keyword like -background to prevent their ads from displaying on all searches that include the word background or related terms. The company’s ads won’t show for queries like “background wallpaper.”

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