Understanding the Role of Negative Keywords in Amazon Advertising


4 min read

Understanding the Role of Negative Keywords in Amazon Advertising

The concept of negative keywords might seem paradoxical, but it's an essential aspect of optimizing your Amazon ads and listings. As the leading online marketplace in the United States, Amazon is the go-to platform for shoppers, which inevitably leads to intense competition among sellers. To stand out, sellers employ various strategies, one of which involves the use of negative keywords to enhance ad performance and better target their audience.

The Concept of Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are the terms you deliberately exclude from Amazon search results to streamline your keyword optimization efforts and make your products more discoverable. Despite your best attempts to optimize your listings for specific keywords, Amazon's algorithm might display your brand in irrelevant searches. This is where negative keywords come in handy.

For instance, if you sell brand-new products, you might want to use negative keywords like "used" or "refurbished" to avoid any confusion about the condition of your items. Incorporating negative keywords into your campaign can help you focus on the keywords your target market is actively searching for, thereby increasing your chances of converting leads and improving your return on investment (ROI). However, to maximize their effectiveness, it's crucial to understand how negative keywords function on Amazon.

The Functioning of Negative Keywords on Amazon

To implement negative keywords, navigate to the Advertising section in Seller Central and click on Campaign Manager. Here, you'll find a section dedicated to Negative Keywords where you can input your chosen terms.

Negative keywords can be set at either the ad group or campaign level, with Amazon allowing up to 10,000 keywords per ad group or campaign. Each exact keyword can contain up to 10 words (or 80 characters), and phrase match is limited to four words.

The trick to setting negative keywords is to select terms that are related to your products but aren't necessarily the ones you want to target. For example, if you sell specialty beer glasses, you might want to use negative keywords like "wine glasses" to ensure your product is displayed to the right audience. However, avoid including singular or plural keywords as negative keywords.

Varieties of Negative Keywords

Amazon offers two main types of negative keywords: phrase and exact match. Understanding the differences between these two variations is crucial before devising a negative keyword strategy.

Negative Phrase Match

A negative phrase match ensures your ads won't appear for the exact keyword sequence you're targeting. For example, if you use the negative phrase "training shoes," your ad won't appear for any search term containing the phrase "training shoes," including terms with added words like "men's training shoes" or "green training shoes."

Negative Exact Match

With a negative exact match, your ads won't appear for the exact keyword sequence. However, unlike negative phrase match, your ads may still appear for search results that include additional terms.

Best Practices for Using Negative Keywords

When creating a negative keyword strategy, it's important to consider some best practices to ensure your ads appear in the right search results without jeopardizing potential sales.

Close Variants

Close variants are terms similar to your target keyword but aren't an exact match. These could include similar terms, misspellings, backend keywords, or singular/plural forms of the keyword. Whether or not to consider close variants as negative keywords depend on their relevance to your ad.

Negative Keyword Research

Just like any keyword strategy, your approach to negative keywords should begin with thorough research. Focus on keywords that don't rank well, are too expensive, don't attract enough traffic, or are highly competitive. Identify similar keywords that don't align with your brand or products and add them to your negative keyword list.

However, avoid overusing negative keywords as it could limit the reach of your ads.

When Unsure, Opt for Phrase Match

If you're uncertain about which type of negative keyword to use, it's generally safer to opt for phrase match. This ensures that your ads are only displayed to your target audience. For instance, if you sell brand-new laptops, you might want to set "used laptops" and "refurbished laptops" as negative keywords. Using an exact match might still rank your laptops for other search results, such as "Mac Used laptops."


Negative keywords play a pivotal role in refining your Amazon advertising strategy. By understanding their function and implementing them correctly, you can improve your ad performance, target your audience more effectively, and ultimately, drive more sales.

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