So far, we’ve learned that Amazon’s AMS ads system is the most powerful advertising platform for our books. A well-constructed ad filled with targeted and tested keywords will push your book up the charts and build your fanbase. Now that you’re ready to dip your toes into the water, let’s speed up your keyword generation process.
I write dark thrillers. Think Criminal Minds meets Hannibal Lecter. It’s always a challenge to build keywords for a new advertisement. Dreaming up new keywords can be a laborious task packed with tedium. Fortunately, there a few tricks and shortcuts you can use to build lists of high-performance keywords. The Amazon search engine is a great place to start.
Let’s explore the best methods for generating effective keywords.
The Amazon Search Bar
Open Amazon’s website in your browser and choose “Kindle Books” from the pulldown menu in the search bar. Now, type a keyword or phrase into the search bar that a reader might use to find books like yours.
I typed “dark thriller” into my search bar. Before I finished typing, Amazon offered three suggested phrases based on common searches used in their store. The suggestions were “dark thriller”, “dark thriller romance”, and “dark thriller books”. My stories are rarely romantic, but the other two keyword phrases might work for me in my new advertisement.
Next, I typed “detective” into the search bar, and Amazon offered even more suggestions, including “detective mysteries”, “detective series”, “detective stories”, “detective romance”, and several more.
Now, it’s your turn. Brainstorm. What subjects do you write about? Whether your protagonist is a police officer, FBI agent, young adult, artist, lawyer, or anything else, type your character’s profession or key trait into the search bar and record Amazon’s suggestions. Record all keyword phrases applicable to your book. These are candidates for your new advertisement. Maybe your story is about an event, like the apocalypse. Type “apocalypse” or “post-apocalyptic” into the search bar. Take note of Amazon’s suggestions.
Repeat this process for as many traits as you can think of pertaining to your book. This is a surefire way to build an effective keyword list.
AMS Automatic Targeting Ads
Did you know you can tell AMS to automatically target potential readers?
When you create an sponsored brand advertisement, AMS gives you the option to manually or automatically target readers. Automatic ads can seem like a mysterious black box, but they work surprisingly well for certain titles. But how?
AMS analyzes your book’s metadata and genre, then targets readers who are likely to show interest in your book. Many successful authors swear by automatic targeting ads, whereas others swear at them. Be careful with these ads and place conservative bids, using low or moderately-sized daily budgets. If the automatic targeting algorithm fails, you’ll pay for a bunch of clicks that are unlikely to convert into sales. However, if the algorithm performs well, you’ll sell a lot of books without raising a finger.
Better yet, you can use your automatic targeting ad to harvest new keywords, the key to creating affordable ads. Here’s how you do it.
Harvesting Keywords with Automatic Targeting
With you AMS advertising console open, click on your automatic targeting advertisement. On the left side of the screen, you will find various options, such as Placements, Targeting, Budget Rules, Campaign Settings, and more. Click on Search Terms.
If your automatic targeting ad sold any books, you will the keyword search terms readers used before they purchased your book. These keyword search terms are chock full of keyword phrases and ideas for your other advertisements. And because they already resulted in a sale in your automatic targeting ad, they are proven commodities.
To locate the strongest candidates, sort the Orders column from highest to lowest. Focus on keywords and phrases which generated orders in 20 clicks or less. For instance, if the keyword phrase “dark mysteries” generates 32 clicks and 2 orders, I might harvest this keyword phrase and use it in another ad. On the other hand, if “awesome books” leads to 3 orders from 120 clicks, I’ll toss the keyword aside, even though my books are surely awesome. Eh-hem.
Another criteria worth considering is the click through rate (CTR) of the keyword phrase. In other words, how many impressions did your book receive from the keyword phrase before someone clicked on your book? If it takes more than 1000 impressions before someone clicks on my book, I assume that keyword phrase isn’t a good fit. If your book only needs 100 or 200 impressions before the potential reader clicks on it, the keyword phrase might be worth testing in your advertisement.
By adjusting the date range above the keyword list, you can examine search terms as far back as 65 days. I recommend harvesting keyword phrases weekly. Just remember to look back at least two weeks, as AMS reporting can lag four to seven days, and almost two weeks at times.
Amazon Keyword Suggestions
Amazon wants to help you sell books with their advertising system. They even simplify the keyword generation process by offering suggestions in real time.
Open an existing keyword sponsored advertisement and choose the Targeting option on the left side of the screen. This time, click the pretty yellow button that reads Add Keywords.
Immediately, AMS will display three options across the top of the entry form. The first option on the left generates suggested keywords. This list contains dozens of keyword phrases that you can include in your advertisement by simply clicking Add. AMS allows you to filter the keyword suggestions by broad, phrase, and exact match. I prefer to keep all three options clicked while I scan the list, picking out the keywords which best match my book.
Not every suggestion will fit your book. But if you study the list, you’re sure to find candidates for keyword phrases.
While the previous methods for keyword generation are free, the KDP Rocket application costs $97 at the time I’m writing this.
KDP Rocket works like the Amazon search bar. You type a keyword or phrase into the application, and KDP Rocket returns a long list of suggestions, which you can copy into a spreadsheet or paste into your advertisement.
Unlike the Amazon search bar, KDP Rocket estimates the amount of traffic each keyword receives on Amazon. This is valuable data. If readers search for a keyword a hundred times or less each month, that keyword isn’t likely to generate many impressions or clicks, even if you outbid your competition. You want to focus on keywords with sufficient traffic. KDP Rocket gives you the answers you need.
Though not a prerequisite for AMS advertising, KDP Rocket will quicken your workflow and provide traffic data you won’t find on Amazon. I use KDP Rocket for AMS advertisement keyword ideas and for my books’ meta data.
Don’t want to dip your toe into the advertising waters yet? No problem. With practice and the correct approach, it is possible to sell books without any advertising.
What’s your favorite method for building keyword lists?
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