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6 Reasons your Google Shopping campaign needs negative keywords

With Google changing its Shopping campaigns to a free service, you’ll want to know how best to optimize your ads for maximum coverage, clicks, and conversions. To do this, your Google Shopping campaign needs negative keywords.

In this week’s blog, we’re explaining the reasons why your Google Shopping campaign needs negative keywords, including practical tips for implementing them in your ads.

If you’re just getting started with Shopping ads, take a read of our guide to Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns first. Otherwise, let’s jump straight in.

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are words or phrases that prevent your Google Shopping campaign from being triggered. For example, a negative keyword for someone selling beauty face masks might be “protective masks.”

Why your Google Shopping campaign needs negative keywords

You might question why you’d want to prevent your ad from being triggered – after all, any exposure is good exposure, and you never know who might be a potential customer.

However, there are six fundamental reasons why your Google Shopping campaign needs negative keywords.

1. More control

Google Shopping campaigns don’t use keywords. Instead, Google uses information from your product data to match ads to relevant search queries. While this saves you time, it gives you little control over where your ads appear.

Negative keywords allow you to regain control of your ads by telling Google when not to display them.

2. Avoid irrelevant search queries

While Google’s algorithms are highly effective at targeting the right search terms for your ads, it doesn’t always get it right.

Negative keywords enable you to reduce your ad’s appearance for search queries that use loosely related but irrelevant search terms. On the flip side, this increases your appearance in relevant search results, allowing you to create more touchpoints with your target audiences.

3. Protect your ROI from non-converting clicks

A Google user presented with a shopping ad irrelevant to their search query shouldn’t click the ad, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t. Users incorrectly click ads or click thinking that more relevant content lies behind the ad – tapping away at your ad spend.

Negative keywords reduce this from happening and protect your marketing budget by eliminating ad appearance for irrelevant search terms.

4. Boost your ROI with effective clicks

Some search terms may apply to your products or brand but predominantly used by people without purchasing intent. For example, the search term “face mask ingredients” applies to a face mask product. However, most people using this term could be researching making their own face mask, as opposed to looking for a face mask to buy.

Negative keywords prevent your ads from appearing for ineffective search terms, allowing you to increase your ROI.

5. Improve your Google quality score

The more people that are clicking your ads and then hitting the back button to Google, the lower your Google quality score. This can prevent your Shopping ads from showing in the best position or as frequently as possible.

6. Protect your brand reputation

Finally, when your products and store ads appear for irrelevant search terms, this can negatively damage your brand reputation.

Using negative keywords stops this from happening and prevents people from feeling misled by your ads through no fault of your own.

How to identify negative keywords

There are two types of negative keywords to identify for your Google Shopping campaigns:

  • Irrelevant search terms – keywords or phrases irrelevant to your ad.
  • Ineffective search terms – keywords or phrases that, while relevant, don’t generate conversions or the right search intent.

The best resources for researching these keywords are:

Common sense

Use your common sense to think of loosely related, but wholly irrelevant keywords for your products.


Search Google for your products to see what irrelevant results, suggestions, or “other people also searched for” results that Google returns.

Google Keyword Planner

Use your Google Ads Keyword Planner to generate a list of suggested keywords for your search terms. Review this list to identify any irrelevant results.


A tool similar to Google Keyword Planner is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. Enter a search term associated with your product to generate a list of commonly related keywords. Use this to identify any negative keywords to use.

Your data

Finally, your existing Ad Words data should provide you with information on the search terms triggering the highest bounce rate for your current Shopping ads.

How to add negative keywords to your Google Shopping campaigns

Adding negative keywords to your Google Shopping campaigns is easy.

Create a Shopping campaign

If you haven’t done so already, create your Google Shopping campaign, using our beginner’s guide.

Navigate to the campaign’s keywords

From your Google Ads account, click Keywords in the page menu and click the blue plus button.

You can add your negative keywords to your campaign or ad group from the drop-down menu.

Enter your negative keywords

Enter your keywords into the text fields, using the following functions:

Broad-matched negative keywords

This includes synonyms, singular, plural, and other variations of your negative keywords.

Phrase-matched negative keywords

Add quotation marks around a negative keyword when you want to include the exact phrase or close variations of the exact phrase, with additional words before or after.

For example: “protective face mask” will include search terms such as “buy protective face mask” and “protective facemask reviews.”

Exact-matched negative keywords

Add square brackets around your negative keyword when you want it to include the exact phrase or close variations of your exact keyword only.

Keep on top of your negative keywords

Discovering negative keywords for your product ads is a learning process. Regularly review your Shopping Campaign analytics to identify terms or phrases that are triggering your ads but aren’t resulting in conversions.

Final thoughts

There’s nothing negative about using negative keywords in your Google Shopping campaigns – especially now that they’re free. Negative keywords allow you to control where your ads don’t appear so that you can stop wasting time, clicks, and money on customers who will never convert.

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