Choosing the Right Amazon Keywords

Amazon enlists millions of books each and every day, which is why it's so difficult for authors to stand out, especially compared to traditionally-published authors who have a reputation and publicity to support their Amazon listing. One of the ways that you can compete is by ensuring you've listed your book in niche categories, but also through the keywords you use.

In this article, I'm going to break down what Amazon keywords are, why they're so important and help you pick the most suitable keywords for your book.

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What are Amazon keywords?

Amazon keywords are terms and phrases that you use to search on Amazon and find your book. Amazon isn't just an online retailer but also a search engine. Not only can users search for items that they know of and want, but they can also use the site to search for things they don't know. This is where keywords come in and why they're so important. They help users find your book and also push your book higher on the search engine, much like a Google listing does. If, for example, I wanted to read a new book about Kings and Queens, one of my keywords could be royalty.

On Amazon KDP, and Ingramspark you can have slightly more, however, a general rule of thumb is to stick to seven to ten keywords and phrases.

Why are Amazon keywords important?

Amazon keywords are critical because they;

  • Index your book for relevant searches. Without keywords, users won't be able to find your book.

  • Get your book into special Amazon book categories. On KDP, some categories are only available to books that use certain keywords. There's a list of these keywords and categories here.

  • Encourage Amazon to market the book for you. If you pick the right keywords and your book makes a good number of sales, Amazon will start displaying your book higher in search results. Basically, better keywords equals higher sales which equals a higher boost in the search results from Amazon.

How to find your keywords

It's important to ensure your keywords are niche, which will help you rank higher on the search engine, but not too niche so that nobody is searching for the keyword. To start, Amazon asks that you consider the following;

  • Setting (American midwest, Chinese countryside)

  • Character types (superhero, doctor, medium)

  • Character roles (female lead, children)

  • Plot themes (grief, love, friendship, coming of age, redemption)

  • Story tone (cold, dark, mysterious, feel-good, nostalgic)

Here are some tips to help you find keywords.

1. Use Amazon's auto-complete function in the search bar.

To start, search for your book as if you were a user. What would you search for? If I search for Young Adult, do you see the suggestions Amazon gives me, such as young adult fiction, young adult romance books, young adult books for girls, etc. You can use these to find keywords and phrases that people are searching for, that if used will allow your book to appear higher on the search engine.

2. See what's in the sidebar of your category

If you find your category on Amazon and look to the left of your screen (on a browser) you'll find a sidebar that gives you a bunch of keywords that are typically searched for. It's a great idea to include one of these categories as one of your keywords.

For example, I went into the SciFi and Fantasy category on Amazon UK and on the left of my screen you can see that there are different kinds of fantasy characters such as angels, dragons, elves & fae, pirates, vampires, etc. If your book includes any one of these types of characters in your novel, you should definitely include it as a keyword.

At the same time, you can further see that it lists SciFi and Fantasy sub-genres, which are also commonly searched for.

3. Use a free Amazon keyword tool

There are so many keyword tools that you can find online which will actually give you a list of keywords you can use. Sites like Keyword Tool Dominator, Keyword Tool and Sellics.

Now that you've gathered a list of keywords, you need to figure out how to narrow them down to between seven to ten. Here's is a checklist to help you do that.

  • Can you beat the competition for that keyword?

  • Does the keyword have a high number of searches?

  • Does your book match the search intent of that keyword? (If your keyword is vampires, does your book actually have vampires in the plot?)

  • Is your keyword the right length?

Did you know that there are different lengths of keywords? You have;

Exact matches - this is when the keyword is exactly the same as what is searched for. For example, 'Young adult fantasy books' is a commonly searched for phrase that, if used, would count as an exact match.

Phrase matches - this is when the keyword is similar to the search term. For example, if someone searches for 'young adult king and queens' and your keyword is 'young adult royalty' this would a phrase match.