Google Shopping – Keeping Control Of Your Keywords.

James Miller

Account Manager

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while now, you’ll have seen that we’re pretty keen on manual control. Manual bidding, keyword types and ad group level bids – all great stuff. We tend to steer clear of Google’s Smart campaigns and its one size fits all approach because it nullifies our ability to make data driven optimisations, and we love making those.

Google Shopping puts a bit of a spanner in the works in this respect as it doesn’t really operate in the same way as Search campaigns do. If you’ve been running Shopping campaigns then you’ll have noticed that there’s no facility for keywords in your campaigns, so you’ve got no targeting. You just have to trust Google to pull the information from your site and show your products on relevant searches. Google is pretty good at this to be fair, but bidding the same amount on all of these searches can only get you so far.

Let’s say you’re selling some brown leather shoes with a steel toe cap. Someone searching for brown leather shoes with a steel toe cap is way more likely to check out (and buy) your product than someone just searching for brown shoes, but Google’s got you bidding the same for both searches. You’re at the mercy of the AI here.

So how do you get around this? Well, the secret is in your negative keywords. Here’s a nifty trick for creating a trickle down effect to influence how much you pay for which types of searches.

Set your campaigns’ priority levels

You’re going to want to split your Shopping campaign into two campaigns: mediocre searches and great searches. Ones you’re happy to pay more for, and those you’ll only pay for if you can get them on the cheap.

Google lets you set a priority level for your Shopping campaigns. So have one campaign set to high priority which bids low, and contains what would be your valuable keywords given the choice, but as negative keywords. This will make this campaign the first port of call, and will stop your best search terms showing here. 

Now make a second campaign with a low priority, which bids higher. The only search terms that will trigger in here are the ones that didn’t trigger in your high priority campaign, i.e those negative keywords, i.e. the ones you really want.

Set your negatives

High priority

In this campaign you’ll want all of your usual account level negatives, as well as those keywords you actually want to target.

Low priority

In this campaign you’ll want to just have your usual account level negatives (we recommend making a negative keyword list and applying it to both campaigns.

Set your bids 

High priority

Bid low here. Only as much as you would be willing to pay for a mediocre (potentially terrible) search. If you get it cheap then great, and if you don’t, don’t worry, it won’t knock down into your higher bidding campaign – only your negatives will.

Low priority

Bid higher here, or as much as you’re willing to pay for a high quality search. If you’ve set it up correctly, this campaign will only be showing on searches you ‘negatived’ in the high priority campaign.


One quick word of warning here. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy then its pretty easy to get mixed up along the way with high priority and low priority, because the high priority campaign contains your low priority search terms and vice versa. Once you’ve got this down though, you’ll be influencing which searches are more valuable to you, and ensuring you pay more for these, and less for the others (if anything at all). You could even add a mid level priority if you wanted to to give yourself 3 tiers of value to certain searches.

So there you have it, a handy little trick to giving yourself a bit more manoeuvrability in the shopping auction. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely helped us boost ROAS for clients pretty considerably over the years. If you’d like a hand with optimising your Google Shopping campaigns, then please do get in touch for a chat.


James Miller

Account Manager

James joined us at Enable in 2021 following 3 years prior experience in paid media, account management and data analysis roles. He manages the paid search and paid social channels for a number of our clients and also looks after a lot of our conversion and event tracking across Facebook, Google and client websites.

Away from the office you’ll find him either enjoying live music, perfecting his ramen recipe, or mixing some neo-soul and disco classics.