How To Use Amazon Keywords To Sell More Books

your amazon kindle keywords

Amazon is, in fact, a big retail search engine. So when potential book buyers start looking for a new book to read, they very often begin by using Amazon search queries.

Amazon product searches are based on Amazon keywords and your product description or your book description.

You want your keywords related to books to appear when people use a search term that is associated with your book.

This will only happen, though, if you do your Amazon keyword research and select the best seven Amazon keywords for your book.

Where do you start with Amazon keywords for books and Kindle ebooks?

How do you use Amazon keywords?

Firstly, let’s go back one step. The two categories (genres) you chose are crucial, and they need to be as narrowly focused as possible.

In a previous post, I explained how to add search phrases to categories. When you use this method, it is possible to have your book listed in an additional two or three finer focused categories.

Once that is done, it’s time to add your seven keywords or long-tail keyword phrases. You should avoid using one specific single word keyword, and look to use a short phrase for each of your seven keywords.

Think about the topics, themes, geographical settings, and periods in your book. Then start making a list of the possibilities for how people can find your product (book).

Then try your seed keyword or phrases in Google, to begin with. Why do you need to do this?

Because first, you can check the search volume at the top of the page. Then at the bottom of the first page of search results, Google gives you a list of related searches. So you can note more possibilities for your keyword research list.

In my case, as you can see from the image below, I finally selected cold war as one of my potential keywords.

using google search to help with Amazon Kindle keywords

Once you have collected a list of possibilities, go back to Amazon.

But, don’t begin your keyword search on the home page of Amazon.


Dive into categories

You need to navigate to one of your main categories, and further down if you have narrowed your category.

My book is listed under one category of Biographies & Memoirs and in the sub-category of Historical.

Once there, I can see the total number of books that are competitive to mine. It is not too bad at only 23.5K.

If this number is very high, you really need to consider refining your category selections.

amazon Kindle keywords and genre categories


Now, in the search box, start to enter your keyword, but don’t hit enter.

As you type, Amazon provides you with a drop-down list of actual searches, or buyer keywords that people have made. This information is absolutely worth noting, and for getting more relevant keyword ideas.

You will notice that some search phrases are quite long. They can be as long as 250 characters.

This is the result of the start of my keyword. Looking down the list of keyword suggestions, I can see that my keyword phrase cold war has been used by Amazon customers, so this is very good news.

Unfortunately, you don’t get Amazon search volume data.  If you want this information, you will need to pay for commercial Amazon keyword research tools.

But let’s look at what you can do on Amazon.

That my keyword is listed is a very good sign, so it is potentially a great keyword.

Finding Amazon Kindle keywords

Next, select your keyword, and in my case, here it is, cold war, and hit enter to check on how competitive the keyword will be.

Search competitive Amazon Kindle keywords

I would prefer a slightly higher number than 187, but it’s far better than 200k.

When your keyword search returns under 1,000, it increases your chances of your book being discovered in Amazon SEO search terms field results.

A number greater than 1,000 means that your keyword will be up against a lot of competition. It might struggle to appear in a high position.

Once you have selected your keywords, go to your KDP dashboard, and change the keyword or keywords in your book’s ‘Edit Details’ screen. Then republish your book.


Checking your progress

Wait a day or two, and check your new keyword. But again, first, make sure you are searching in your category.

So, was my research and change of a keyword worthwhile? Yes, it was.

Making Amazon Kindle keywords work

My new Amazon keyword has worked for me, and my book is appearing at number 8. This means it will appear on the very first search screen for my keyword. That is exactly what a good keyword should do.

Repeat the same process for your other six keywords. Then from time to time, check them again to see if they are still performing well.

If the results are not as good as you would like for one of your keywords, go back to your list of keywords from your research. Start hunting for a new one to replace it. You could also try using semantic keywords to find more possibilities.

Over time, you will have a list of seven strong Amazon keywords that will help readers find your books. It will give you a far better chance of increasing your book sales.


Pro-level book keyword research

If you have a lot of titles or want to speed up your keyword research with real-time data, you might want to consider Publisher Rocket. It is a high-performance pro tool for Amazon book keywords.

You can access the whole Amazon database in real-time to find the best seven keywords and two book categories for all your titles.

KDP Rocket 3
Real-time Amazon keyword data


KDP Rocket 1
Find the best niche categories

It is much easier to find keywords for nonfiction because it is always topic-specific. But it can be a little more difficult for fiction.

Publisher Rocket is an ideal tool to help you find profitable niche keywords for fiction authors.


It’s never too early

You should start thinking about your keywords as part of your marketing plan well before your book launch if you want to sell more books.

Indie authors need to think ahead and understand how the Amazon algorithm for search works. As an Amazon seller, backend keywords for your products on Amazon are crucial in gaining higher product listings.

It should be one part of your overall book marketing strategy.

Yes, write a blog post, use your email list and post on social media. Make sure you have a fantastic book title, cover, and book description.

But in the end, your selection of Amazon keywords and making sure that your book is keyword optimized will be the main driver of your ongoing book sales.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

11 thoughts on “How To Use Amazon Keywords To Sell More Books

  • December 31, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve got an important question: when I look at Google search volumes, what would be the optimal range for my keywords? I know it’s tough to position myself when the number is too big, but on the other hand, few search results mean… no one will use this particular phrase, so it doesn’t seem efficient either.

  • July 3, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    I am new to self-publishing and want to get it right the first time. Can we switch keywords and categories as many times as we want? Thank you for your help

  • February 16, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Amazon might have changed something on its site, or perhaps there’s a glitch. I just checked, and yes, only books seem to be working at the moment. So, yes, use the books section for now.

    • February 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Ah well it’s good to know it’s not just me then! Cheers for the help, Derek :)

  • February 15, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Hi Tim. You need to use Chrome, Firefox or Safari on a desktop or laptop to get the drop-down list. If it doesn’t work, try clearing your browser cache.

    • February 16, 2018 at 6:29 am

      I’ve just noticed that it works if I use the search toolbar under “books”, but not if I search on any of the sub-categories, and not at all in the “kindle e-books” section. I use Firefox on a laptop and have also cleared my cache by the way. Do you think checking my keywords in the “books” search bar will still give me a good overall idea of what people are searching for and whether my keywords are strong? Or is it better to check them under the sub-categories? I think there must be a setting on my laptop that is limiting my searches to just the broadest categories.

  • February 15, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Hi Derek. I’ve just discovered your website and it really is a fantastic wealth of information – awesome stuff! One question I’ve got is, when I enter my keyword into the Amazon search bar, no drop-down list of actual searches appears. Do you have any idea why that would be? If I enter a word or a key phrase that is all that shows up. Any help would be much appreciated. Cheers :)

  • September 13, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Hi David,

    I empathise with your frustration.

    Choosing categories and keywords is not a precise science, as it is very similar to SEO practices. Your selections are used by Amazon search algorithms, and like Google, these are a secret, so no one knows exactly how they work.

    All you can do is choose the best you can, see how they work, and keep trying if you don’t get high search results.

    Also, your categories and keywords will work differently on Amazon UK and Amazon US. So check both.

    Unfortunately, there is no definitive guide, because algorithms change almost every day, so it is a matter of continual trial and error.

  • September 13, 2017 at 1:07 am

    When I go to my category, and enter a keyword and space to see the autocomplete, it only shows generic results. If I choose one of the options and hit return, it doesn’t appear like it does in your screenshots – it completely wipes whatever category I had selected and displays results as if I had entered those words from scratch on
    So I don’t understand this process I’m afraid.
    Another issue I found in the related article about choosing hidden categories, was that the categories I had selected from those available in the tree in KDP, were different to what was available on the actual Amazon website.
    This is an extremely confusing process, and it’s delayed me getting my book out today.
    After reading a few articles, I am still fairly clueless what I am supposed to choose for my keywords. The advice conflicts with each other. Why can’t someone just write a guide of do’s and don’ts with some examples. We’re not telepaths, and after spending a year on a book, these last minute hurdles are soul destroying.

  • April 6, 2016 at 3:32 am

    I love this article! I wonder if this technique will work with other online retailers like B&N, Smashwords, etc.?

    Thank you so much!


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