Addition Through Subtraction: How Negative Keywords Help Shopping Feed Campaigns

What role does keyword research play in your shopping feed campaign? You may not be able to bid on them, but a negative keyword strategy can help ensure better, prequalified clicks.

Pasta primavera is a dish that consists of vegetables, pasta, and sometimes meat. I made it with shrimp one time and it was delicious. Added some broccoli, carrots and sweet red pepper and paired it with a nice pinot grigio. It was a lovely dinner. If anyone wants the recipe, I can send the link.

Primavera Systems is a brand name of enterprise project portfolio management software which includes project management, collaboration and control capabilities and integrates with other enterprise software (I may have looked that up on Wikipedia). Acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2008, this Primavera is obviously not meant for human consumption.

So, this raises the question: why would I mention these two very different things in the same article? Answer: Because if you’re running an AdWords campaign concerned with Primavera software and you aren’t careful, you may find yourself being matched with people looking for the best pasta primavera recipe (hint: add shrimp). Google is normally pretty good with these things, but some strange matches can happen when merchants aren’t careful.

Keywords are a little tricky with shopping feeds. For one, they don’t function in the same way most merchants are familiar with. That is, it is not a process of addition where we bid on a specific list of words and phrases we’ve painstakingly created in AdWords. Instead, when a merchant submits a shopping feed file to Google Shopping, Google crawls individual product pages and indexes information like product names and descriptions, essentially using that information as a keyword list. Your own products do the work for you! However, adding negative keywords to your campaign greatly increases its effectiveness by telling Google specific terms with which your products should not be matched. If AdWords campaigns are like sculpture, think of text-based PPC ads as clay and shopping feeds as marble. The main difference is with clay we can add pieces together, whereas with marble the sculptor takes his chisel and starts chipping away.

We have been talking about the importance of product titles and descriptions in relation to increasing conversions for quite some time now, but that is just a part of shopping feeds campaign optimization. Merchants should also be checking their search terms and adding negative keywords on a regular basis.

Negative Keywords 1


To see the search terms that have been paired to your site, look in the Dimensions tab in AdWords and select "Search terms" from the dropdown menu pictured above. Search terms can be sorted by a number of metrics, but the most important ones to look at are Impressions, Clicks, Click Through Rate (CTR), Cost, Conversions and Cost/Converted Click. Keep your profit margins in mind when looking at your data – if a particular search term is bringing in a fair number of conversions, look at the cost per converted click field. Are you actually losing money from those conversions?

When you have identified an undesirable search term, be sure to add it to your negative keyword list. Click on the Keywords tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you will see where to add negative keywords at both the ad group and campaign level. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. You can add and remove from this list at any time.

Negative Keywords 2

Because of the way Google indexes product information, it can be tempting to "set it and forget it," confident that your high quality product titles descriptions will see the campaign through. However, a well-cultivated negative keywords list plays just as big a role in helping Google match products to relevant search terms, and when the two work together your campaign is in a much better position to succeed.

If you need any help with shopping feed campaigns, Volusion has a team of specialized, AdWords certified professionals ready to create, manage and optimize your account. And as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the box below.