How to Choose Your Keywords for Amazon Book Ads

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Amazon book ads have become complex, but a definite necessity when it comes to book promotion. If done right, these ads can really help to boost your online exposure—but if they’re done incorrectly, they can end up costing you a lot of money. So, let’s look at some ways that you can boost your exposure, without adding to your daily ad budget!

The first piece of this is that for Amazon book ads to be successful, you must find the right Amazon keyword strings. Not singular keywords—but actual strings.

Amazon caps your keyword strings at 1,000—though to start with I’d recommend looking for 300 to 400. I know this seems like a lot, but there are some easy ways and fun shortcuts for collecting them that I’ll share with you.

One of the biggest problems authors face is when they choose words that have very little search volume or, conversely, are far too broad and competitive.

Know your market. We have a free reader profile download that is really helpful in this area so I encourage you to check it out.

Keyword Strings for Nonfiction

Amazon’s new ad system radically changed how we search for nonfiction keyword strings, and it’s become much more aligned with Google searches, meaning that in large part you can use Google to find your keyword strings.

If you’ve ever run a Google ad campaign, you’re probably already familiar with their Keyword Planner tool, but if you’re not, it’s very easy to use.

You need to log into your Google account to access it, and if you’re already running Google ads you can just search for the Keyword Planner tool. If you’ve never run ads via Google, just set up a quick (and free) account to get access to it.

One thing I like to do when I’m searching for keyword strings for Amazon is dig into the needs of the readers searching.

The same is true for your ads, you’ll want to add the reader “pain points” to your list. Meaning: what’s bringing them to your book. If you don’t know this, you can play around with the Google Keyword Planner, and your reader profile, and find out.

Some searches will net you tons of results while others may only give you two or three keyword strings, so you’ll definitely want to play around, maybe adding the term “book” to your keyword strings.

You’ll see that Google ranks these as High, Medium, and Low, describing the search volume within Google, and I’ve found it closely mirrors the Amazon searches as well. In this case, the search turned up over one thousand keyword strings, so I grabbed the top five hundred with high and medium volume.

Using Amazon’s Intuitive Search for Fiction

The first step in this process is choosing the phrases and search terms. I recommend that you start with a list of existing search terms your readers might input into the Amazon search bar to get to the books they’re looking for.

With the help of Amazon’s intuitive search, you’ll start to pull up keyword suggestions while you type in your keyword strings. Let’s say you have a paranormal time travel romance. You could start by typing in the word, “paranormal.” When you do, you’ll see a box pop up. Take note of the search phrases that pop up and jot them down. This is the first series of keyword strings you’ll want to use. However, keep in mind that you’ll only want to use relevant keyword strings. If your book isn’t a paranormal gay romance, you won’t want to include that term.

For fiction, in most every case, readers will search based on book type. Use categories like “mystery thriller,” “sci-fi fantasy,” or “paranormal romance.”

Practice Makes Perfect

I know this is a lot to consider, and sounds like a lot of work, so I want to encourage you to test different strategies.

If you have more than one buyer market, you should test ads that use specific sales angles for those markets.

Nothing is always going to work across the board, but you will learn a lot more from testing different approaches than you will by spending all your ad budget on a single ad.

Amazon ads have become such a big part of the entire optimization process it’s a good idea to make it part of your entire marketing process! Play with it, and keep your ad spend low until you feel more comfortable with the process!


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Penny C. Sansevieri

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU and is the author of eighteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, 5 Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity.