Keywords are the lifeline for your Sponsored Products ads. Finding and using the right keywords for your ad campaign is essential.
If your keywords do not relate to your book, you are wasting your ad money, and your ACoS will be too high to earn money from your book sales. There are many things that you can do wrong with your keyword selection. Most of the mistakes I have seen fall into one of these categories.
Common Mistakes of Using Keywords
- Using only the Google keyword suggestion tool
- Using keywords nobody is searches in Amazon
- Going too broad with a single keyword
- Going too narrow with a long tail keyword phrase
- Using high competitive keywords
- Using keywords that don’t match your book content
- First Steps on Choosing Keywords
Combine keywords in the most logical order. Customers search for “military science fiction” but probably not for “fiction science military“. Before publishing, search for your book’s title and keywords on Amazon. If you get irrelevant or unsatisfying results, make some changes. When searching, look at the suggestions that appear in the “Search” field drop-down box.
Think like a reader. Imagine how you’d search if you were a customer.
Not Allowed Keywords
Amazon program names like ‚Kindle Unlimited‘ or ‚KDP Select‘ are not allowed to use.
Method 1 – Use Amazon’s Search Suggestion
This is a very powerful way to find related keywords. We will use Amazon’s keyword suggestion tool. For this to work in your favor, please log out of your account. As a second step, please use the incognito or private mode in your browser.
- Chrome – Open a new incognito mode tab or window
- Firefox – Open a new private tab or window
- Safari – Open a new private tab or window
If you use another browser, the functionality may be different. We are doing this because the Amazon suggestion feature uses your account information as well as browser cookies to match the results.
In incognito or private mode, you’ll get raw data – which is what we want.
Now go to Amazon, select the Kindle category from the department selection, and use one of your primary keywords. Something you may find in the description of your book or a simple phrase that describes your book genre (e.g. science fiction thriller, financial investment). When you put in ‚science fiction‘ Amazon shows you a few other suggestions that people already used. In our example you may see:
- science fiction romance
- science fiction and fantasy
- science fiction space war
- science fiction anthology
- science fiction short stories
You can do this with any major keyword and find related keywords people are using to find and buy books.
We can go even further with this tool and add one letter from the alphabet at the end of our phrase ‚science fiction‘. This will then look like this ‚science fiction a‘. Now Amazon gives you all keywords people have already used that start with the letter ‚a‘. In this case, you may see this:
- science fiction aliens
- science fiction adventure
- science fiction and philosophy
You know already what comes next? You take the next letter from the alphabet and do the same until you get to the end of the alphabet. Yes, that’s very time-consuming. However, it ensures you are only targeting keywords that people are looking for.
Finding good keywords is a complex task, and many people wondered if we can’t use power tools to expedite that process. Indeed, there are meanwhile a dozen or more services and programs that offer help with that task. I tried many of them – if not all – and most of them are not useful. They either don’t suggest relevant keywords, or they are missing essential information about how often they are used.
What good will a keyword be for you if users are only searching for it five times per month? In our first attempt by using Amazons’ own search suggestion we get relevant keywords, but we don’t know the monthly volume.
Method 2 – Find Keywords with Publisher Rocket
Publisher Rocket will find keywords that readers are actually typing into Amazon, and that puts this tool already at the top of the list. As I mentioned there are plenty of other tools, however, most of them are not using keywords that people typed into Amazon.
Dave Chesson developed it. He published a few successful books, but soon expanded into helping other authors with his blog ‚Kindlepreneur‘. He also published a free course on advertising, which I recommend and you find on his website. More details in the resource section of this article.
Let’s get into the rocket…
Unlike any other software, Publisher Rocket gives you real data that shows you exactly what Amazon book buyers type into Amazon, as well as how many people search for these things every month. Here are the main facts:
- What keywords shoppers type into Amazon
- Estimated number of times someone types that keyword into Amazon
- How much money other books are making that rank for that keyword
- How many books are competing for that keyword
With the category feature, Publisher Rocket will quickly find pertinent and niche categories for your books, as well as find out how many books you’d need to sell that day in order to be the new #1 bestseller. With this feature you’ll discover:
- Niche categories to choose from
- Which categories will help you sell more books
- How many sales that day you’d need to make in order to be the new #1 bestseller
- How many sales you’d need to make in order to be listed in the top 20
- Learn About Other Authors & Their Sales
With a click of a button, you can see your potential competitors, their information, reviews, book cover, and even their daily and monthly earnings. By understanding what works for your competitors, you can create book titles, subtitles, and descriptions that convert better, increase your Kindle rankings, and sell more books.
Publisher Rocket will help you find you over 150 profitable keywords for your AMS book advertising campaign in under 10 seconds. Then, once you have your list of keywords, click export and upload it to AMS.
Publisher Rocket is simple to use tool that works on both Mac and PC which basically does everything discussed above. The software is priced at $97, which I find is on the upper end of all the tested tools. You can try it free for 30 days and see if it works for you.
Method 3 – Find Keywords Using MerchantWords
This is my favorite tool to find relevant keywords. It’s a massive database (above 100 Million) of amazon keywords that are related to product sales. It’s as simple as entering a phrase, and you will get all related keywords.
MerchantWords claims that they are using the most accurate, extensive, up-to-date collection of global shopper keyword search data available today. They have over one billion unique search phrases collected from Amazon shopper searches around the world.
That’s one billion insights on consumer demand and shopping trends.
The way searches are done in one country is not always the same in another, and when you choose the right search terms your products are seen by more buyers. That goes for languages, too. MerchantWords gives you instant access to a global audience with a database of search terms from buyers in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
Collecting billions of keywords isn’t easy, but the real work comes in understanding what keywords to use and when to use them. Their proprietary algorithm uses artificial intelligence to do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to worry about it.
They monitor the Amazon search bar for actual shoppers’ searches. This allows them to quickly spot trends and see what’s in the minds of your potential customers. Using data science and proprietary algorithms, they compare all of the keywords that show up every time when they gather new data against the historical search terms in their database.
They also state that they are calculating and processing more than five years of keyword data – one billion unique keywords – and billions of signals from Amazon search results pages. These calculations allow them to organize and rank every keyword found on Amazon every month from 1 to 131,728,810 and counting – and that’s just the U.S. results for the month of June 2018!
Taking into account the number of monthly Amazon shopper visits, they then allocate the proportional search volume across all search phrases. They repeat this process many times every month to provide the most up-to-date information available.
They also regularly run spot checks with Amazon sponsored advertising pay-per-click (PPC) search impression data, since that gives them a baseline readings for how many searches to expect for a keyword. While impressions are critical data points, they’re just a portion of the overall volume and not a full measure of consumer demand.
I just found out that they have upgraded their system with some amazing new features. There are two new columns added to the search result.
This point system indicates how quickly a keyword appears when a user types in a search query in the Amazon search bar. The number displayed is on a scale of 1-25, with 1 representing the fastest and 25 representing the slowest. Keywords with a depth of 1 are likely to be very competitive. Keyword depth can vary based on search trends, algorithm changes, seasonality, and new product releases.
This column indicates how often a keyword is searched throughout the year. Keywords can be classified as evergreen: The keyword appears in search every month. Seasonal: The keyword has only appeared in a search for up to 3 months, no more. And New: The keyword just appeared in search results. This column is still in the beta phase, and they are working to refine the results in the next few weeks.
Their service costs $30 if you only go for the US market, which is the biggest. I was able to negotiate an arrangement with MerchantsWords, and with my discount link, (not an affiliate link) you only pay $9 per month!
Here is the discount link to MerchantWords:
I highly recommend that you sign up for a month and use that time to research your keywords and build several ad campaigns. Here is a list of suggestions:
- Use related author names
- Use related titles or phrases from that title
- Use keywords that describe your genre
- Use genre keywords
After you put these phrases into MerchantWords, use the suggested lists and build your own keyword list. Make sure you are using the filter at the top and select Books from the categories. Use the estimated monthly search volume to filter out phrases that get below 1000 searches per month.
When you use broad keywords in your search, you may end up with a massive list of keywords. You can then drill even deeper into the results by selecting one of the broad keywords and receive a new, more detailed and long-tail keyword list.
Another service that I recently discovered offers, that also a database of Amazon keywords, is AmazVol. They offer their database access for just $5.99, however, after testing this tool for a while I found that it does not have the volume and quality as MerchantWords.
Method 4 – Find Keywords with ParseHub
Parsehub is a tool that supports complex data extraction from websites. It is equipped with machine learning technology that can read and analyze documents on the web to output relevant data. Parsehub is available as a desktop client for Windows, Mac, and Linux and there is also a web app that you can use within the browser. You can have up to 5 crawl projects with the free plan from Parsehub.
ParseHub is from its functionality a web scraper. There are about 7-10 other web scrapers; however, I found that ParseHub is a breeze to learn and very easy to use once you understand how it works.
What does Web Scraping mean?
Web scraping is a term for various methods used to collect information from across the Internet. Generally, this is done with software that simulates human Web surfing to collect specified bits of information from different websites. Those who use web scraping programs may be looking to collect certain data to sell to other users or to use for promotional purposes on a website.
Web scraping is essentially a form of data mining. Items like weather reports, auction details, market pricing, or any other list of collected data can be sought in web scraping efforts.
We will use web scraping to collect keywords, especially author names, titles and category names. The free version allows us to have five projects, which is enough, as we do not need to save them. After collecting keyword data, we can export them into a CSV or Excel format.
Using ParseHub is a bit more challenging than other tools because you need to download and install the program first on your computer. Then you need to create an account, and after that, you need a little practice time to understand how this program works.
We will use ParseHub in the following example to extract keywords from GoodReads Listopia. However, before we start let me explain a bit about GoodReads and Listopia.
Select GoodReads as Your Source
Goodreads is a social network specifically for authors and readers. It has over 20 million members and is one of the most visited websites in the world. It helps people find the next book they want to read. If you don’t use GoodReads, please sign up for free and start listing your books there.
Goodreads has a feature called Listopia where people publicly vote on the top books on all manner of lists. This is the place where we can extract hundreds of relevant keywords.
So, let’s get started.
I am using ‚Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books‘ as an example. You can use any list you want. In this example, we will extract the author and the title of the first 100 entries of this list. You can extract the entire list, of course, but it requires a bit more knowledge of how ParseHub works, and it would exceed the scope of this book.
There are plenty of training videos on their website that shows you all kind of scenarios and how to work with them. For example how to extract information from different pages at once. Most lists use the page navigation to split long lists into several pages. ParseHub can automatically scrape information from one page, then skip over to the next page, and then start again until the end of the list.
Please follow these steps to learn from this example:
- Download ParseHub from here.
- Sign up for a free account
- Open the application and click the green button ‚New Project
- Go to GoodReads list and select a list from the tags on the right
- Copy the URL you see in your browser
- Paste the URL into the project field
- Click on ‚Start Project on this URL‘
- Go to the right panel and select the first book title, then the second
- Then click on the first author, then the second
- Click on the green button ‚Get Data‘
You are almost done!
Now you can either go for a Test Run or hit Run and let the program work. It will take a few minutes, depending on your Internet connection speed and the size of the list.
When your data is ready, you can download it with a click in either CSV, Excel or JSON format. I always use CSV because I can open it either with Excel, Apple numbers or with a simple text editor.
It’s best you open it with Excel or any other spreadsheet program. If you do not have Excel, you can use Google’s free Sheets program.
In your downloaded list, you will see now all the titles and authors listed. Think about how much time you would need to do this manually.
How to use ParseHub Results?
Now, that you have a list of authors and titles that relate to your book genre or category you can use it to target your in an ad. Before you do that I want to give you a few hints on how to clean up that list.
In your downloaded Excel sheet, you will see three columns, the author name, the title, and the URL. You can delete the URL because it has no value for us. Now you can copy the column with all the authors and paste it into a new keyword campaign. Look at the author names, and if they have a letter for the middle name, delete it and then add that author name again. Most people will not search with a middle name that only contains a letter, e.g. Mike L. Hunt.
Go over the titles and use them right away if they are no longer than five words and don’t contain any extra information. In all other cases extract phrases of the title people may use to search for the book. In most cases that would be the beginning of the title. Add these to your list, and you now have a targeted list of related keywords.
Now, when someone pulls up a book title from this list, your sponsored ad appears. It is highly likely that a reader gets a bit sidetracked and looks at other books on this page and find yours. That’s basically how you set up and use these ads.
That was just one example of how to use the powerful feature of ParseHub. You can use it wherever a website contains lists of data. Amazon itself also works excellent. For example on your own dedicated book page you could extract author title and title from the following sections:
- Customers who bought this item also bought
- Sponsored products related to this item
Method 5 – Get Visual – Find Keywords with Yasiv
YASIV is a visual recommendation service that helps people find the right product from Amazon’s catalog; be it a book, a movie or a video game. A link between the two products means that they are often bought together. By simply observing the network of products one can guess at what is popular and what isn’t.
On almost every product, Amazon lists related items under “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.” Unfortunately, scrolling through that list and opening each item up is annoying.
YASIV gives you a tree spreading out from one item, showing you not just what other customers bought with that item, but what other customers bought from those resulting items as well, giving you a massive web of books, albums, or anything else you might be interested in.
Go over to yasiv.com and use either your book title, your name or any phrase you like to start a search. On the right side, you will see the results coming in. The list length depends on how broad your search phrase is.
Once you have the list you can sort it by:
- Sales Rank
- Publication Date
- Number of Pages
In the list, you can click on any title and see some more facts, which you can sort by. However, there is another exciting detail there, and these are tags. I just searched for my name and got a list of 415 books. Then I listed it by sales rank and Bob Woodward’s book Fear came up on #3.
Here are the tags from that book:
- U.S. Presidents
- Hoaxes & Deceptions
- Russian & Former Soviet Union
- Executive Branch
- National & International Security
Use these tags as keywords if your title falls into the same category. You can use MerchantWords or any other keyword suggestion program to get further related keywords.
Now, how do you extract the whole list? Use ParseHub to get a list of all 415 titles. You can then maybe use only the first 100 regarding sales rank.
Here is how you do it:
- Load ParseHub and start a new project
- Copy and paste the URL from Yasiv into your project field
On the next screen click the Browse button on top. This tells ParseHub that you are not marking any data the program should extract. You need this because Yasiv gives you a Google Captcha to solve by clicking on it.
Once you have done that you will see the Yasiv web interface working its way to gather the list of books based on the phrase you had put in.
When the list is finished click on the ParseHub Browse button again to tell the program that you are now marking data to be used for extraction. Click on the first title and then click on the second title.
If you have a long list of books, in our case 415, your browser may give you are warning message that a script is not responding. If that happens, click on Continue to let the script finish. After a while, the program has collected all 415 titles, and you can now hit the ‚Get Data‘ button and as the last step save your list in CSV or Excel format.
Amazon Advertising – Keyword Resources
Please have a look at these additional resources, that provide excellent information on how to use keywords and also on how to optimize your keywords for best results.