How To Do Amazon Keyword Research

How To Do Amazon Keyword Research In 2021?

19 min to read
Ihor Dubovetskyi

by Ihor Dubovetskyi

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Profit Whales

As promised in our article on Amazon PPC Campaign Structure we’ve prepared an all-in-one article on how we do Amazon Keyword Research. We’ve also tried to summarise our own experience of running multiple client PPCs in 2020. 

So get yourself a nice warm cup of coffee and let’s get down to it!

How to do Amazon Keyword Research?

You should definitely check out this episode of Dr. Amazon podcast with Troy Johnston from Seller.Tools 👇

How Was 2020 Different?

To say that 2020 is a special year compared to the last five years is clearly an understatement. Even when we narrow it down to discussing Amazon.com. And it has a lot to do with the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many people all over the world to change their buying behavior. To go online to shop more. Even for things they were accustomed to buying in brick & mortar shops and marts. 

Amazon.com is thriving in this new world. Amazon.com has estimated its US consumer goods market share growth from 10% to 12%. It was in 2019. Now Amazon is expecting to see a 24% share by the beginning of 2021.

All you CMO and CFO of Amazon Sellers out there know precisely what kind of chase it was. The market is suddenly demanding more and more, your inventory train is lagging behind… and still, there is no time to loiter, as it’s the same holds true for all your competitors.

How does 2020 look from the eyes of a professional Amazon PPC Manager’s perspective (like ourselves)?

“Yes,” there are more people buying from Amazon.com now than ever before. But the size of page 1 of Amazon’s search results (where 60% of all sales occur) remains the same. And this means that we needed to work faster and cleaner to secure a cut in this expanding market. Because if we don’t – the competitors surely will!

And now let’s get cracking!

One does not Simply Find Amazon Keywords

Amazon Advertising (be it Sponsored Product, Display, or Brand) is all about using the right keywords. You can experiment with them, you can store them for the appropriate season, use them in your backend keywords Amazon to get indexed, bid high, or bid low … but first you need to find them.

But even before we look at how to run Amazon keyword research, let’s recap where we use them. So that we treat them not merely as “keywords for Amazon” but to approach the whole research with a clear, managerial goal in mind. This spares us time “throwing darts at a wrong target.”

Where the Keywords Meet the Product

This section is a recap of how Amazon search algorithms are influenced by using keywords. 

So all you more seasoned Amazon PPC Managers who face this in daily action – feel free to skip right to the technical keyword research section. 

How to use Amazon keywords?

There are two areas where a product is married to a keyword on Amazon.com:

  • Via product detail page — this is how the Amazon algorithm indexes these keywords for your product, and it’s also how your customers read about it.
  • Via Sponsored Ads campaigns — where you bid money for showing as high as possible in the Amazon.com search results, before people who are looking for your product
  • Keywords in the Amazon product Listing

The algorithm side

Keywords included in the product detail page determine if this ASIN fits what a customer is searching for. This is known as ASIN indexing.

For every most searched amazon keyword, there are typically a number of indexed competing ASINs. Each such ASIN has a rank with that keyword. As one might suspect, this rank determines the order in which these ASINs get to appear in the search result. 

Indexing keywords for Amazon listing is not just about organic searches, however. The Amazon a10 algorithm also considers the keyword rank when it deals with Sponsored Ads. An Ad targeted at a specific keyword will score a better position if the ASIN is already indexed for that keyword organically.

In autumn 2018, one of our customers was launching a new product (room wall decors) and was stuck at the glass ceiling with its Sponsored Ads. The Ads kept showing on page 4 of search results, no matter how high the bids were. 

We’ve noticed the product did in fact show on page 2 for 3 keywords. As we’ve looked at the listing closely, we realized that the product detail page contained some very industry-specific terms, and had very few common language keywords (that were at the basis of its PPC Campaign). 

Upon adding more layman language to that listing, we saw an increase in Ads position across the board, Sponsored sales going from 2-4 to 10-12 units in just 2 weeks.

The Amazon indexes keywords from the following product listing fields:

amazon product detail page
  • Product’s title

The first 250 symbols are counted towards indexing. Try to put in 2-3 most popular keywords that describe your product and its key attributes clearly

  • Bullet points

Al east first 100 symbols from each bullet point get indexed. A good place to fill with a text containing the rest of tier 1 and most related tier 2 amazon keywords 

  • Backend keywords
amazon backend keywords

The system will index at least the first 1024 symbols from the backend list. So use this field to stack in more 2nd tier and some of the best long-tail keywords here. N.B. We have a few more tips on Amazon backend keywords.

The human side

A live human buyer typically looks only at a few product listing fields to see if she has indeed found what she was looking for:

  • Product’s title

 Any potential customer will be looking at it twice: 

1) When she sees your product in Sponsored/ organic search results.

And if she was impressed enough (along with nice product pics)…

2) When she starts reading about your product

Thus you will want this text to not only include the keywords – but also be very clear, readable, and best-describing your product plus its key features.

  • Bullet points

The vast majority of buyers don’t actually read the whole bullet points. It’s the first two that get their attention. So while using them to place more keywords – be sure to leave some really catching info here, that would describe the extra benefits of your product. And make it will stand out from the competing products waiting in other tabs a buyer might have opened.

  • Product Descriptions

This slab of text is reserved for the most tenacious customers. It’s worth working on and making it readable only for high-priced products (where customers study each product carefully before paying for it). There is no first-hand evidence that the algorithm gives any extra keyword indexing to a product for keywords found in this section. So you may go ahead and knock yourself out with the most elaborate purely-marketing texts here.

 

  • Keywords in Sponsored Ads

Another place, where amazon keywords meet the products is in Sponsored ad groups.

Every time a customer enters a search term in the Amazon.com search console, Amazon A 10 search algorithm runs a check. It picks up on any Sellers’ accounts that contain one or more ad groups with keywords matching the search query. All these get arranged into a hierarchy based on their scoring. And it is this hierarchy that determines the position your product’s Sponsored Ad will be shown in search results. 

And hopefully, this is where it’ll catch the prospective customer’s eye.

Relevant amazon keywords should ideally be assigned to different Campaigns, each dedicated to a separate roll-in executing selected marketing Strategy.

🔖 Read our article on Amazon PPC Campaign structure

A useful tip

You can always run a quick manual check and see if any ASIN is indexed for a given keyword. Open Amazon.com Search console and type in as follows:

amazon keyword search
  • copy-paste the ASIN number in question
  • after type in space and the keyword in question
  • run the search
  • If the ASIN is indexed, you should get the following return: “1 result for _ASIN_ _keyword_”

Amazon Keyword Match Types

(⚠️ spoiler alert: we love exact match types)

Depending on this Strategy, a keyword is used either in exact or broad match type. 

Notice that we deliberately leave the phrase match type out of the discussion. 

A well-seasoned PPC Campaign is likely to contain the majority of relevant keywords in exact match type anyway, with only a handful of broad match type terms acting as low-bid backups. 

We suggest using exact match type keywords exclusively for the following types of PPC Campaigns:

Top-performing keywords campaigns

These are the bread & butter of most products’ Sponsored Ads, generating the bulk of non-brand keywords sales. You do want to see your most popular keywords in these campaigns. This way, you can rest assured that any increase in bids will translate directly to your ad show position in all relevant search results. 

When it comes to Sponsored Brand Campaigns — exact is probably the only kind of match types you should be using. Sponsored Brand Ads typically earn fewer clicks per buck than Product Ads. 

Indeed, we seldom see brand ads performing at as low as 40-45% ACoS level, unless we’re talking Bestseller brands. Therefore running a Sponsored Brand ad with any keywords in match type other than exact is almost always prohibitively expensive. 

So in 2020 make sure you pick only the best-selling product for your SB campaign (both for SBP and SBV). And to add only the best exact keywords to get those SBP impressions. 

Brand keywords campaigns

We love brand keywords. If Seller’s PL brand is established enough on Amazon.com (or at least amongst its core buyers) — it is likely to gain substantial extra sales from being targeted in Sponsored ads. Typically with the smallest ACoS possible. 

An Amazon PPC manager will do well by selecting 10-15 most popular search terms that include your brand or product name and using them in this separate campaign. 

We also suggest against combining brand keywords with top-performing exact keywords. For once — these would bring down the total ACoS of such aggregate campaigns. Meaning you simply will not have a clear picture of what’s going on from looking at campaign-level metrics (like ACoS or orders). 

And a PPC Manager needs to be able to do that quickly, cause it saves you time every day you dig into the data for optimization.

Exact long-tail keywords

These are perfectly relevant keywords that describe your product usually in 4-6 words. They are too rare to be seen often, but when used (and when the customer will see your Sponsored ad) — they usually perform excellently. 

Just like with brand keywords — you probably want to keep these keywords in a separate campaign. Their key metrics (e.g. the CTR) will differ from those of top-performing keywords, so you don’t want to mix them.

If nothing else — fewer orders coming via ads with long-tail keywords mean that you will accumulate data more slowly. This in turn means that you will have to conduct PPC optimization less often for these campaigns. 

Plus, if your product IS good — sooner or later you may make your way towards a best-seller rank in one or more of your keywords. And there’s a high probability that it’s gonna be one because of these long-tail keywords. No miracle here, they have fewer competitors.

Search Term Screening Campaign

Broad keywords are excellent at siphoning through Amazon traffic and showing our product for searches that we otherwise would’ve missed out with exact-only PPC Campaign build. 

To make it work (and now waste marketing budget) however, we suggest running these in a separate campaign. And do so at a fraction of a budget an exact campaign gets and at bids around or below the Amazon-suggested setup values. 

Okay!

From all you’ve read so far, hopefully, we’ve managed to bring across the vibe of where/ how to use the amazon keywords. 

Now, let’s talk about actually finding them!

Amazon Keywords Research

Researching keywords for Amazon is a bit like archeology. Somebody has probably already found them before you and has already sold some products with them. So oftentimes all you really need to do is to walk the same path. Maybe cut a few corners even. 

The rules of the game in 2020 are simple: more competition, same real estate space. 

Meaning that there is a bigger performance gap between “ok” keywords and “really good” ones. 

There is more competition for getting Ads to the top position with good keywords. So you’d better make sure you don’t miss out on any of them, and use them preferably in exact match types for maximum agency over their performance.

Not all keywords are made equal

amazon key words

Some are blatantly obvious and are describing your product perfectly: its size, color, quantity, material, usage, user age, and other “solid” qualities. 

Others seem ok, but in truth are way too general (“dog collar,” “body lotion,” “desktop lamp,” etc.) or too vaguely descriptive (“sharp kitchen knife,” “good massage balls,” “cat laser toy,” etc.). The latter will score you too many clicks but are likely to convert very poorly too since a customer is simply in the wrong part of the purchase funnel yet.

So we encourage Seller to always lean on common sense and to tell one from the others right from the get-go.

For those cases when it isn’t clear if a keyword is “really good” or just ”ok” — run a quick (1-2 week) test and let the audience tell you that. Set the smallest viable bids on these keywords and see how customers see your product in the search results. And then act upon that firm data. Do not waiver if to pause dubious-performing keywords or not make it a negative: there’re always some good targeting opportunities to be found in its stead.

Starting Amazon keyword research 

In reality, you never actually start keyword research empty-handed. 

There IS a name you’ve given your product after all. Just go to Amazon.com and dial it into the search console. Amazon should provide you with some alternative options related to your search term, like so:

amazon keyword

You may also do the same, from the Seller Central Advertising Manager or Advertising Console itself. When you create a new campaign and select your product ASIN — the system will scan its content and suggest some seed keywords that it believes to be related to it (along with the suggested bid values). Like so:

amazon keywords

And “NO,” not all these keywords will be good. So again, use common sense and intimate knowledge of your product when picking the ones to carry on with.

These simple free amazon keyword research tools are always available to a Seller. They should be more than enough, to proceed to the next step. and in all honesty, it’s probably the most effective step to obtain valuable amazon keywords quickly, considering it’s 2021:

Best free source of highly relevant keywords 

From your competitors’ listings, you can take a great deal of very effective keywords.

The fact that their Ads are at the top of search results for your top-performing keywords kind of implies that they do their homework. Including the work of creating a keyword-rich product detail page.

So this is where you should really start harvesting the best and the most handpicked search terms, for both creating a solid PPC campaign and building your own product detail page is on par with the best.

There are many obvious and not-so-obvious fields to do so (some we’ve already discussed in the “Where the keywords meet the product” section):

product detail page amazon
  • Title
  • Bullet Points
  • The infographics from product pictures (!)

amazon listing
  • Product description 
  • User warnings

amazon product reviews
  • Product reviews (e.g. see how real customers call the product and the key features they find worth mentioning)

Write down all the keywords you’ve discovered. And arrange them so that you can immediately spot those that are very likely to be relevant to your product (let’s call these 1st tier keywords) and those that are 2nd tier (including long-tail keywords).

For 1st tier, you will want to double-check that they are relevant to your product. Type each of them in the Amazon.com search console again. And observe the search results. If 80-90% of search result products are the same as what your product is — congrats, you’ve got yourself a solid keyword! Rinse and repeat.

Do relevant products show less than 60% of search results? Well, congrats again! You’ve just saved yourself a few hundred dollars trying to sell your product over the wrong keyword. Open your negative keywords list and make sure to add this one to those.

Other Free Keyword Research Tools for Amazon

amazon keyword research tools

Meticulous free keyword research does not stop with analyzing the competitors. Especially if your product is selling well, and every extra keyword that you may discover will likely generate some extra sales. 

For broader amazon key words research, we often go to the Google search console and Google Ads Keyword Planner tool (you’ll need to register an empty Ad Words account to get access to it, but its basic functions are free.)

The search console in Google will work the same way (provide you suggestions) as Amazon does. Some new keywords from there are more likely, as Google’s search algorithm is superior to Amazon’s, plus Google has significantly more data flowing through it at any point in time.

The keyword planner takes in up to 10 keywords (using 2-3 words per keyword entry to achieve optimal results). Like so:

keywords for amazon

And Google, using all its computational might and its vast databases, should give you some fresh ideas. Lots of them, in fact:

Google Ads Keyword Planner

An Amazon PPC manager needs to be careful however with Google search results, however. Remember that Google is a search engine after all: people google things up for all manner of reasons. And its keyword will reflect exactly that! Amazon.com on the other hand is different, in that the vast majority of people are looking to buy things – not just learn about them. 

So whenever working with Google-originated keywords, again, use your common sense. Ignore the keywords that obviously have nothing to do with looking for or buying your product, such as, “what is X,” or “where to buy X,” or “DIY X guide,” or “job at X factory,” and whatnot.

When you combine (and re-check with the Amazon.com search console) your tier 1 and tier 2 keywords gathered from all the sources described so far — you should have found 60-80% of keywords that are truly relevant to your product. 

Finding the remaining ones is usually a long-term process that includes clever use of the Search Term Report from time to time. 

amazon keyword research tool

And now that we’ve covered the free amazon keywords research tools — let’s see where we can cut some corners.

Amazon search term report

One way to get relevant search terms (first hand) for money is from Amazon itself. 

There are a lot of Amazon PPC articles on the Internet that suggest using broad match type keywords at the first stage of your new Amazon PPC Campaign to get data on ASIN-relevant relevant keywords. 

To us, this has always sounded a bit like “A lazy way for those Sellers who can’t be bothered with good keyword research”. But hey! If you’ve got the budget and little precious time — that is a totally viable way to go about keyword researching. It will yield first-hand and extremely reliable results to work with since it is about your exact product in your specific market.

Do this: just refuel the Amazon Advertising budget and launch a temporary Sponsored Produсt campaign with a single ad group containing 4-6 broad match type keywords (e.g. the one you came up with from examining the competitors). Set the bids to the lowest recommended value. And wait. 

Amazon will start showing your ads to more or less relevant search queries… and over the course of 1-3 weeks, you should be able to check out the Search Term Report. From analyzing this report you should be able to see what Search Terms scored better CTR and sales.  You take the best ones and put them into a full-time exact match type Campaign to run ads as normal. 

Amazon keyword research tool

Instead of setting up your own temporary simple PPC campaigns — you can turn to one of the well-established, third-party keyword research tools. For a decent sum, SaaS like Helium 10, Jungle Scout, or Merchant Words will happily let you get a peek at all the search terms related to a product. 

They will siphon through Amazon’s search term data for you, providing you with a substantial number of variations of more and less relevant keywords. Each of those will be served with a bunch of useful performance data, like:

  • the number of impressions per month (on average);
  • average bid level that your fellow Seller tend to pay for them;
  • expected CTR;
  • severity of PPC competition.

They are also good for reverse-analyzing competing ASINs to find what kind of keywords they use.

Essentially you’re in for a serious corner-cutting of the long process we’ve described above. 

And if your Amazon business relies on volumes of new products being tested and presented to various markets, then you will definitely love all the time sparing these paid keywords search services allow you.

If you are a busy Amazon Seller (or a very busy PPC Manager), dealing with dozens of products and/ or Seller accounts, then you probably want more help than simple keyword harvesting. These are SaaS services and agencies that have put themselves into Seller’s boots, who now offer some more bespoke services to make day-by-day managing Amazon PPC easier. Including the first stage (i.e. keywords harvesting).

ZON tools have been on the market for a few years now. They specialize in helping Amazon sellers to conduct more complete keyword research, encompassing other targeting options for future PPC campaigns, like competing ASINs and relevant Categories. 

All these targeting assets are gathered and automatically grouped for easier deployment into Sponsored campaigns. But ZON tools don’t just leave Sellers with a rich and fine-combed PPC Campaign draft — they also offer automated optimization service to keep it performing. Harvesting extra keywords, disabling the poorly-performing ones, daily optimization – they do it all. 

And the best thing which we at Profit Whales believe they did – they’ve offered a simple Strategy-based control over it all. Just pick a desired (defensive, aggressive, break-through) Strategy you want to be executed, and the PPC optimization should take care of the rest.

Ad Badger is a brand name that puts a LOT of effort into educating the Amazon Seller community, not just working as an Amazon Advertising agency. In fact, they claim to KEEP educating their customers and their staff as they provide agency services.

 Wich by the way is quite substantial and could be a boon to a middle and large Amazon Seller:

  • Regular bids management and optimization;
  • Keeping operating keywords pool fresh and healthy;
  • Suggesting new keywords to try;
  • Provide all-around user training and education by a dedicated and passionate management team.

Tool4seller are quite different in what they do for the Sellers willing to pay and ease up on their Amazon efforts. Instead of offering the monkey job for the Seller – they offer her tools to make it easier. 

Tools that allow for much more informed decision making. In our eyes, tool4seller is an ideal sidekick for a mature and predacious Amazon PPC Manager who knows what to do. Check out what they do:

  • Provide an integrative alert system to monitor PPC performance and warn Selle of thing like:
  • ASIN losing keyword or Category rank;
  • Buy Box piggybacker stealing your sales (it can also temporarily increase your product price to fend one-off and return it to normal later);
  • Incoming bad customer Reviews.
  • Run Sponsored budget dayparting;
  • Execute foolproof rules-based changes to the bids;
  • Help run the books and know your actual profit in real-time;
  • Remind you to poke Amazon. com for refunds they happen to own you (like for returns).

A swiss-army knife of Amazon Product launching and keyword research really. In 2020 there will be far fewer dropshipper on Amazon than there used to be 5 years ago. 

And it’s a good thing, cause Viral Launch’s servers would probably run red-hot 24/7. Still, what they offer is a formidable corner-cutting set of services that will benefit even a dedicated Private Label Amazon Seller:

  • Estimate the perspectives of selling a given product on Amazon from the size of its expected market & ferocity of active competition;
  • Helps with keyword research to fill in the listing and PPC campaigns;
  • Analyses competitor listings to gain a full view of their keyword usage (including their active Ads);
  • gives overall competition layout of a niche market (good for deciding on a PPC Strategy);
  • Suggest PPC bids and what allows the best use of keywords;
  • Keep track of your keywords ranking.

All these tools are worth their money, when it comes to quick yet sufficiently meticulous research (which by definition takes a lot of time and repetitive work). If you feel that the speed of work and operating on Amazon in 2020 pays off (and you should) — checking out one of a couple of these tool may well end more than paying their cost for your business!

  • Zero to Hero 

Profit Whales has spent years both offering Agency services and developing a proprietary Amazon PPC manager-aid software. We’ve helped Amazon Seller to increase their sales 10-fol over 3 months, to capture and protect Best Seller badges, and to run exemplary Sponsored Ads campaigns for an Amazon business on sale to put a better price tag on it. 

And we’ve discovered a very important thing. SaaS solutions are good. But not the best. A dedicated team of PPC managers can be the best… get recommendations on your Amazon Advertising campaigns from a Qualified Expert 👇

Check out our website and see if this is something your business can benefit from. We’re always open for new partnerships and new profits.

Now that we’ve run through amazon keyword research tools — we’d also like to say a word on what to do next with your running Amazon PPC Campaigns

Amazon Keyword Optimization

Amazon.com is not particularly generous when it comes to sharing real customer search data. It will only let you see this report if you’ve already run a Sponsored Ads campaign. I.e. if you’ve already paid for it.  

We’ve briefly touched on running a broad-match campaign as one of the ways to gather first-hand keywords for an ASIN already. However, we ourselves do employ these campaigns in our various marketing strategies, and not just on Stage 1. 

These campaigns typically have a small budget (1/10th or less of a proper selling PPC campaign like “Top-performing exact”. All target keywords we use are an assortment of top-performing keywords in broad match types. The bids are also low — in the lower 25% of all bids for a given keyword (if not lower). 

And most importantly — these campaigns have huge lists of negative keywords, so as to never compete with any exact search term we’ve discovered before and not to show on any crap search terms we’ve already proven ineffective in the past. These campaigns keep generating maverick results in Search Term reports. 

And we suggest checking those out on a monthly basis, to gather some potential good keywords and negative ones that have somehow eluded out previous attention. 

Just keep “checking the nets” (i.e. Search Term Report) regularly for the fresh catch of both new good selling keywords and new candidates for negative keywords.

There is yet another place a Seller should visit frequently if she wants to stay on top of things. The customer reviews. All too often customers refer to your product and its features in the same way they would in their daily language. And that makes reviews a valid source of first-hand terms for your product and for things your customers find important about it. 

At one time we helped a dog treat dispenser PL manufacturer with their Amazon Sponsored Ads. And it wasn’t until we got ourselves intimate with those customer reviews of their product AND complementary dog food products, that words like “doggo”, “fido” and “cat-proof” entered our Sponsored Ads targeting options.

Wow… that HAS been quite a long read! 

Let’s quickly recap what we’ve covered:

  • How Amazon.com has changed in 2020 for the US Amazon Sellers
  • Where we can use keywords that we’ve discovered and why we should
  • Using discovered keywords in different match types to achieve maximum effect;
  • Importance of showing info from the right customers and how we can manipulate product listing and advertising with keywords to do so;
  • Where to start your keyword research;
  • How to enrich your keyword harvesting using free tools available;
  • How to use paid tools to cut corners and save time during keyword research;
  • How to keep harvesting keywords after the initial campaign launch and have it perform even better.

We’ve tried to do our best to cover areas of Amazon’s PPC Manager’s day-to-day work that we believe crucial to the success of advertising. The amazon keyword research techniques and tools. 

Of course, products are different! 

And so are the customers looking to buy them. 

On two occasions we’ve witnessed all the keywords (of all match types combined) generating the meek 20% of total advertising sales. The rest was provided by simple automated campaigns, covering over 80%. 

But in all honesty, the other 99% of customer accounts we run Amazon PPC for on a day-to-day basis — totally depend on the right keywords and ASINs we pick to target our Ads at.

Each case is different and many deserve a unique and thoughtful approach to achieve maximum sales and the best ACoS. 

So we urge all of you good Amazon Sellers and Managers out there — never stop your efforts! 

Experiment! Try out new marketing strategies. Alter product title. Use different pictures. Try low bids, try high bids. Set Top-of-Search bid increase to 50% and see if this helps your sales. Create a Halloween campaign where you combine your most trustworthy keywords with “Halloween” or “gift” or “scary” keywords — maybe this will give you a few days of stellar sales in autumn, who knows?

Be bold and be brave, fellow Amazonians! Make 2021 your best year!

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How To Do Amazon Keyword Research

How To Do Amazon Keyword Research In 2021?

19 min to read
Ihor Dubovetskyi

by Ihor Dubovetskyi

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Profit Whales

As promised in our article on Amazon PPC Campaign Structure we’ve prepared an all-in-one article on how we do Amazon Keyword Research. We’ve also tried to summarise our own experience of running multiple client PPCs in 2020. 

So get yourself a nice warm cup of coffee and let’s get down to it!

How to do Amazon Keyword Research?

You should definitely check out this episode of Dr. Amazon podcast with Troy Johnston from Seller.Tools 👇

How Was 2020 Different?

To say that 2020 is a special year compared to the last five years is clearly an understatement. Even when we narrow it down to discussing Amazon.com. And it has a lot to do with the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many people all over the world to change their buying behavior. To go online to shop more. Even for things they were accustomed to buying in brick & mortar shops and marts. 

Amazon.com is thriving in this new world. Amazon.com has estimated its US consumer goods market share growth from 10% to 12%. It was in 2019. Now Amazon is expecting to see a 24% share by the beginning of 2021.

All you CMO and CFO of Amazon Sellers out there know precisely what kind of chase it was. The market is suddenly demanding more and more, your inventory train is lagging behind… and still, there is no time to loiter, as it’s the same holds true for all your competitors.

How does 2020 look from the eyes of a professional Amazon PPC Manager’s perspective (like ourselves)?

“Yes,” there are more people buying from Amazon.com now than ever before. But the size of page 1 of Amazon’s search results (where 60% of all sales occur) remains the same. And this means that we needed to work faster and cleaner to secure a cut in this expanding market. Because if we don’t – the competitors surely will!

And now let’s get cracking!

One does not Simply Find Amazon Keywords

Amazon Advertising (be it Sponsored Product, Display, or Brand) is all about using the right keywords. You can experiment with them, you can store them for the appropriate season, use them in your backend keywords Amazon to get indexed, bid high, or bid low … but first you need to find them.

But even before we look at how to run Amazon keyword research, let’s recap where we use them. So that we treat them not merely as “keywords for Amazon” but to approach the whole research with a clear, managerial goal in mind. This spares us time “throwing darts at a wrong target.”

Where the Keywords Meet the Product

This section is a recap of how Amazon search algorithms are influenced by using keywords. 

So all you more seasoned Amazon PPC Managers who face this in daily action – feel free to skip right to the technical keyword research section. 

How to use Amazon keywords?

There are two areas where a product is married to a keyword on Amazon.com:

  • Via product detail page — this is how the Amazon algorithm indexes these keywords for your product, and it’s also how your customers read about it.
  • Via Sponsored Ads campaigns — where you bid money for showing as high as possible in the Amazon.com search results, before people who are looking for your product
  • Keywords in the Amazon product Listing

The algorithm side

Keywords included in the product detail page determine if this ASIN fits what a customer is searching for. This is known as ASIN indexing.

For every most searched amazon keyword, there are typically a number of indexed competing ASINs. Each such ASIN has a rank with that keyword. As one might suspect, this rank determines the order in which these ASINs get to appear in the search result. 

Indexing keywords for Amazon listing is not just about organic searches, however. The Amazon a10 algorithm also considers the keyword rank when it deals with Sponsored Ads. An Ad targeted at a specific keyword will score a better position if the ASIN is already indexed for that keyword organically.

In autumn 2018, one of our customers was launching a new product (room wall decors) and was stuck at the glass ceiling with its Sponsored Ads. The Ads kept showing on page 4 of search results, no matter how high the bids were. 

We’ve noticed the product did in fact show on page 2 for 3 keywords. As we’ve looked at the listing closely, we realized that the product detail page contained some very industry-specific terms, and had very few common language keywords (that were at the basis of its PPC Campaign). 

Upon adding more layman language to that listing, we saw an increase in Ads position across the board, Sponsored sales going from 2-4 to 10-12 units in just 2 weeks.

The Amazon indexes keywords from the following product listing fields:

amazon product detail page
  • Product’s title

The first 250 symbols are counted towards indexing. Try to put in 2-3 most popular keywords that describe your product and its key attributes clearly

  • Bullet points

Al east first 100 symbols from each bullet point get indexed. A good place to fill with a text containing the rest of tier 1 and most related tier 2 amazon keywords 

  • Backend keywords
amazon backend keywords

The system will index at least the first 1024 symbols from the backend list. So use this field to stack in more 2nd tier and some of the best long-tail keywords here. N.B. We have a few more tips on Amazon backend keywords.

The human side

A live human buyer typically looks only at a few product listing fields to see if she has indeed found what she was looking for:

  • Product’s title

 Any potential customer will be looking at it twice: 

1) When she sees your product in Sponsored/ organic search results.

And if she was impressed enough (along with nice product pics)…

2) When she starts reading about your product

Thus you will want this text to not only include the keywords – but also be very clear, readable, and best-describing your product plus its key features.

  • Bullet points

The vast majority of buyers don’t actually read the whole bullet points. It’s the first two that get their attention. So while using them to place more keywords – be sure to leave some really catching info here, that would describe the extra benefits of your product. And make it will stand out from the competing products waiting in other tabs a buyer might have opened.

  • Product Descriptions

This slab of text is reserved for the most tenacious customers. It’s worth working on and making it readable only for high-priced products (where customers study each product carefully before paying for it). There is no first-hand evidence that the algorithm gives any extra keyword indexing to a product for keywords found in this section. So you may go ahead and knock yourself out with the most elaborate purely-marketing texts here.

 

  • Keywords in Sponsored Ads

Another place, where amazon keywords meet the products is in Sponsored ad groups.

Every time a customer enters a search term in the Amazon.com search console, Amazon A 10 search algorithm runs a check. It picks up on any Sellers’ accounts that contain one or more ad groups with keywords matching the search query. All these get arranged into a hierarchy based on their scoring. And it is this hierarchy that determines the position your product’s Sponsored Ad will be shown in search results. 

And hopefully, this is where it’ll catch the prospective customer’s eye.

Relevant amazon keywords should ideally be assigned to different Campaigns, each dedicated to a separate roll-in executing selected marketing Strategy.

🔖 Read our article on Amazon PPC Campaign structure

A useful tip

You can always run a quick manual check and see if any ASIN is indexed for a given keyword. Open Amazon.com Search console and type in as follows:

amazon keyword search
  • copy-paste the ASIN number in question
  • after type in space and the keyword in question
  • run the search
  • If the ASIN is indexed, you should get the following return: “1 result for _ASIN_ _keyword_”

Amazon Keyword Match Types

(⚠️ spoiler alert: we love exact match types)

Depending on this Strategy, a keyword is used either in exact or broad match type. 

Notice that we deliberately leave the phrase match type out of the discussion. 

A well-seasoned PPC Campaign is likely to contain the majority of relevant keywords in exact match type anyway, with only a handful of broad match type terms acting as low-bid backups. 

We suggest using exact match type keywords exclusively for the following types of PPC Campaigns:

Top-performing keywords campaigns

These are the bread & butter of most products’ Sponsored Ads, generating the bulk of non-brand keywords sales. You do want to see your most popular keywords in these campaigns. This way, you can rest assured that any increase in bids will translate directly to your ad show position in all relevant search results. 

When it comes to Sponsored Brand Campaigns — exact is probably the only kind of match types you should be using. Sponsored Brand Ads typically earn fewer clicks per buck than Product Ads. 

Indeed, we seldom see brand ads performing at as low as 40-45% ACoS level, unless we’re talking Bestseller brands. Therefore running a Sponsored Brand ad with any keywords in match type other than exact is almost always prohibitively expensive. 

So in 2020 make sure you pick only the best-selling product for your SB campaign (both for SBP and SBV). And to add only the best exact keywords to get those SBP impressions. 

Brand keywords campaigns

We love brand keywords. If Seller’s PL brand is established enough on Amazon.com (or at least amongst its core buyers) — it is likely to gain substantial extra sales from being targeted in Sponsored ads. Typically with the smallest ACoS possible. 

An Amazon PPC manager will do well by selecting 10-15 most popular search terms that include your brand or product name and using them in this separate campaign. 

We also suggest against combining brand keywords with top-performing exact keywords. For once — these would bring down the total ACoS of such aggregate campaigns. Meaning you simply will not have a clear picture of what’s going on from looking at campaign-level metrics (like ACoS or orders). 

And a PPC Manager needs to be able to do that quickly, cause it saves you time every day you dig into the data for optimization.

Exact long-tail keywords

These are perfectly relevant keywords that describe your product usually in 4-6 words. They are too rare to be seen often, but when used (and when the customer will see your Sponsored ad) — they usually perform excellently. 

Just like with brand keywords — you probably want to keep these keywords in a separate campaign. Their key metrics (e.g. the CTR) will differ from those of top-performing keywords, so you don’t want to mix them.

If nothing else — fewer orders coming via ads with long-tail keywords mean that you will accumulate data more slowly. This in turn means that you will have to conduct PPC optimization less often for these campaigns. 

Plus, if your product IS good — sooner or later you may make your way towards a best-seller rank in one or more of your keywords. And there’s a high probability that it’s gonna be one because of these long-tail keywords. No miracle here, they have fewer competitors.

Search Term Screening Campaign

Broad keywords are excellent at siphoning through Amazon traffic and showing our product for searches that we otherwise would’ve missed out with exact-only PPC Campaign build. 

To make it work (and now waste marketing budget) however, we suggest running these in a separate campaign. And do so at a fraction of a budget an exact campaign gets and at bids around or below the Amazon-suggested setup values. 

Okay!

From all you’ve read so far, hopefully, we’ve managed to bring across the vibe of where/ how to use the amazon keywords. 

Now, let’s talk about actually finding them!

Amazon Keywords Research

Researching keywords for Amazon is a bit like archeology. Somebody has probably already found them before you and has already sold some products with them. So oftentimes all you really need to do is to walk the same path. Maybe cut a few corners even. 

The rules of the game in 2020 are simple: more competition, same real estate space. 

Meaning that there is a bigger performance gap between “ok” keywords and “really good” ones. 

There is more competition for getting Ads to the top position with good keywords. So you’d better make sure you don’t miss out on any of them, and use them preferably in exact match types for maximum agency over their performance.

Not all keywords are made equal

amazon key words

Some are blatantly obvious and are describing your product perfectly: its size, color, quantity, material, usage, user age, and other “solid” qualities. 

Others seem ok, but in truth are way too general (“dog collar,” “body lotion,” “desktop lamp,” etc.) or too vaguely descriptive (“sharp kitchen knife,” “good massage balls,” “cat laser toy,” etc.). The latter will score you too many clicks but are likely to convert very poorly too since a customer is simply in the wrong part of the purchase funnel yet.

So we encourage Seller to always lean on common sense and to tell one from the others right from the get-go.

For those cases when it isn’t clear if a keyword is “really good” or just ”ok” — run a quick (1-2 week) test and let the audience tell you that. Set the smallest viable bids on these keywords and see how customers see your product in the search results. And then act upon that firm data. Do not waiver if to pause dubious-performing keywords or not make it a negative: there’re always some good targeting opportunities to be found in its stead.

Starting Amazon keyword research 

In reality, you never actually start keyword research empty-handed. 

There IS a name you’ve given your product after all. Just go to Amazon.com and dial it into the search console. Amazon should provide you with some alternative options related to your search term, like so:

amazon keyword

You may also do the same, from the Seller Central Advertising Manager or Advertising Console itself. When you create a new campaign and select your product ASIN — the system will scan its content and suggest some seed keywords that it believes to be related to it (along with the suggested bid values). Like so:

amazon keywords

And “NO,” not all these keywords will be good. So again, use common sense and intimate knowledge of your product when picking the ones to carry on with.

These simple free amazon keyword research tools are always available to a Seller. They should be more than enough, to proceed to the next step. and in all honesty, it’s probably the most effective step to obtain valuable amazon keywords quickly, considering it’s 2021:

Best free source of highly relevant keywords 

From your competitors’ listings, you can take a great deal of very effective keywords.

The fact that their Ads are at the top of search results for your top-performing keywords kind of implies that they do their homework. Including the work of creating a keyword-rich product detail page.

So this is where you should really start harvesting the best and the most handpicked search terms, for both creating a solid PPC campaign and building your own product detail page is on par with the best.

There are many obvious and not-so-obvious fields to do so (some we’ve already discussed in the “Where the keywords meet the product” section):

product detail page amazon
  • Title
  • Bullet Points
  • The infographics from product pictures (!)

amazon listing
  • Product description 
  • User warnings

amazon product reviews
  • Product reviews (e.g. see how real customers call the product and the key features they find worth mentioning)

Write down all the keywords you’ve discovered. And arrange them so that you can immediately spot those that are very likely to be relevant to your product (let’s call these 1st tier keywords) and those that are 2nd tier (including long-tail keywords).

For 1st tier, you will want to double-check that they are relevant to your product. Type each of them in the Amazon.com search console again. And observe the search results. If 80-90% of search result products are the same as what your product is — congrats, you’ve got yourself a solid keyword! Rinse and repeat.

Do relevant products show less than 60% of search results? Well, congrats again! You’ve just saved yourself a few hundred dollars trying to sell your product over the wrong keyword. Open your negative keywords list and make sure to add this one to those.

Other Free Keyword Research Tools for Amazon

amazon keyword research tools

Meticulous free keyword research does not stop with analyzing the competitors. Especially if your product is selling well, and every extra keyword that you may discover will likely generate some extra sales. 

For broader amazon key words research, we often go to the Google search console and Google Ads Keyword Planner tool (you’ll need to register an empty Ad Words account to get access to it, but its basic functions are free.)

The search console in Google will work the same way (provide you suggestions) as Amazon does. Some new keywords from there are more likely, as Google’s search algorithm is superior to Amazon’s, plus Google has significantly more data flowing through it at any point in time.

The keyword planner takes in up to 10 keywords (using 2-3 words per keyword entry to achieve optimal results). Like so:

keywords for amazon

And Google, using all its computational might and its vast databases, should give you some fresh ideas. Lots of them, in fact:

Google Ads Keyword Planner

An Amazon PPC manager needs to be careful however with Google search results, however. Remember that Google is a search engine after all: people google things up for all manner of reasons. And its keyword will reflect exactly that! Amazon.com on the other hand is different, in that the vast majority of people are looking to buy things – not just learn about them. 

So whenever working with Google-originated keywords, again, use your common sense. Ignore the keywords that obviously have nothing to do with looking for or buying your product, such as, “what is X,” or “where to buy X,” or “DIY X guide,” or “job at X factory,” and whatnot.

When you combine (and re-check with the Amazon.com search console) your tier 1 and tier 2 keywords gathered from all the sources described so far — you should have found 60-80% of keywords that are truly relevant to your product. 

Finding the remaining ones is usually a long-term process that includes clever use of the Search Term Report from time to time. 

amazon keyword research tool

And now that we’ve covered the free amazon keywords research tools — let’s see where we can cut some corners.

Amazon search term report

One way to get relevant search terms (first hand) for money is from Amazon itself. 

There are a lot of Amazon PPC articles on the Internet that suggest using broad match type keywords at the first stage of your new Amazon PPC Campaign to get data on ASIN-relevant relevant keywords. 

To us, this has always sounded a bit like “A lazy way for those Sellers who can’t be bothered with good keyword research”. But hey! If you’ve got the budget and little precious time — that is a totally viable way to go about keyword researching. It will yield first-hand and extremely reliable results to work with since it is about your exact product in your specific market.

Do this: just refuel the Amazon Advertising budget and launch a temporary Sponsored Produсt campaign with a single ad group containing 4-6 broad match type keywords (e.g. the one you came up with from examining the competitors). Set the bids to the lowest recommended value. And wait. 

Amazon will start showing your ads to more or less relevant search queries… and over the course of 1-3 weeks, you should be able to check out the Search Term Report. From analyzing this report you should be able to see what Search Terms scored better CTR and sales.  You take the best ones and put them into a full-time exact match type Campaign to run ads as normal. 

Amazon keyword research tool

Instead of setting up your own temporary simple PPC campaigns — you can turn to one of the well-established, third-party keyword research tools. For a decent sum, SaaS like Helium 10, Jungle Scout, or Merchant Words will happily let you get a peek at all the search terms related to a product. 

They will siphon through Amazon’s search term data for you, providing you with a substantial number of variations of more and less relevant keywords. Each of those will be served with a bunch of useful performance data, like:

  • the number of impressions per month (on average);
  • average bid level that your fellow Seller tend to pay for them;
  • expected CTR;
  • severity of PPC competition.

They are also good for reverse-analyzing competing ASINs to find what kind of keywords they use.

Essentially you’re in for a serious corner-cutting of the long process we’ve described above. 

And if your Amazon business relies on volumes of new products being tested and presented to various markets, then you will definitely love all the time sparing these paid keywords search services allow you.

If you are a busy Amazon Seller (or a very busy PPC Manager), dealing with dozens of products and/ or Seller accounts, then you probably want more help than simple keyword harvesting. These are SaaS services and agencies that have put themselves into Seller’s boots, who now offer some more bespoke services to make day-by-day managing Amazon PPC easier. Including the first stage (i.e. keywords harvesting).

ZON tools have been on the market for a few years now. They specialize in helping Amazon sellers to conduct more complete keyword research, encompassing other targeting options for future PPC campaigns, like competing ASINs and relevant Categories. 

All these targeting assets are gathered and automatically grouped for easier deployment into Sponsored campaigns. But ZON tools don’t just leave Sellers with a rich and fine-combed PPC Campaign draft — they also offer automated optimization service to keep it performing. Harvesting extra keywords, disabling the poorly-performing ones, daily optimization – they do it all. 

And the best thing which we at Profit Whales believe they did – they’ve offered a simple Strategy-based control over it all. Just pick a desired (defensive, aggressive, break-through) Strategy you want to be executed, and the PPC optimization should take care of the rest.

Ad Badger is a brand name that puts a LOT of effort into educating the Amazon Seller community, not just working as an Amazon Advertising agency. In fact, they claim to KEEP educating their customers and their staff as they provide agency services.

 Wich by the way is quite substantial and could be a boon to a middle and large Amazon Seller:

  • Regular bids management and optimization;
  • Keeping operating keywords pool fresh and healthy;
  • Suggesting new keywords to try;
  • Provide all-around user training and education by a dedicated and passionate management team.

Tool4seller are quite different in what they do for the Sellers willing to pay and ease up on their Amazon efforts. Instead of offering the monkey job for the Seller – they offer her tools to make it easier. 

Tools that allow for much more informed decision making. In our eyes, tool4seller is an ideal sidekick for a mature and predacious Amazon PPC Manager who knows what to do. Check out what they do:

  • Provide an integrative alert system to monitor PPC performance and warn Selle of thing like:
  • ASIN losing keyword or Category rank;
  • Buy Box piggybacker stealing your sales (it can also temporarily increase your product price to fend one-off and return it to normal later);
  • Incoming bad customer Reviews.
  • Run Sponsored budget dayparting;
  • Execute foolproof rules-based changes to the bids;
  • Help run the books and know your actual profit in real-time;
  • Remind you to poke Amazon. com for refunds they happen to own you (like for returns).

A swiss-army knife of Amazon Product launching and keyword research really. In 2020 there will be far fewer dropshipper on Amazon than there used to be 5 years ago. 

And it’s a good thing, cause Viral Launch’s servers would probably run red-hot 24/7. Still, what they offer is a formidable corner-cutting set of services that will benefit even a dedicated Private Label Amazon Seller:

  • Estimate the perspectives of selling a given product on Amazon from the size of its expected market & ferocity of active competition;
  • Helps with keyword research to fill in the listing and PPC campaigns;
  • Analyses competitor listings to gain a full view of their keyword usage (including their active Ads);
  • gives overall competition layout of a niche market (good for deciding on a PPC Strategy);
  • Suggest PPC bids and what allows the best use of keywords;
  • Keep track of your keywords ranking.

All these tools are worth their money, when it comes to quick yet sufficiently meticulous research (which by definition takes a lot of time and repetitive work). If you feel that the speed of work and operating on Amazon in 2020 pays off (and you should) — checking out one of a couple of these tool may well end more than paying their cost for your business!

  • Zero to Hero 

Profit Whales has spent years both offering Agency services and developing a proprietary Amazon PPC manager-aid software. We’ve helped Amazon Seller to increase their sales 10-fol over 3 months, to capture and protect Best Seller badges, and to run exemplary Sponsored Ads campaigns for an Amazon business on sale to put a better price tag on it. 

And we’ve discovered a very important thing. SaaS solutions are good. But not the best. A dedicated team of PPC managers can be the best… get recommendations on your Amazon Advertising campaigns from a Qualified Expert 👇

Check out our website and see if this is something your business can benefit from. We’re always open for new partnerships and new profits.

Now that we’ve run through amazon keyword research tools — we’d also like to say a word on what to do next with your running Amazon PPC Campaigns

Amazon Keyword Optimization

Amazon.com is not particularly generous when it comes to sharing real customer search data. It will only let you see this report if you’ve already run a Sponsored Ads campaign. I.e. if you’ve already paid for it.  

We’ve briefly touched on running a broad-match campaign as one of the ways to gather first-hand keywords for an ASIN already. However, we ourselves do employ these campaigns in our various marketing strategies, and not just on Stage 1. 

These campaigns typically have a small budget (1/10th or less of a proper selling PPC campaign like “Top-performing exact”. All target keywords we use are an assortment of top-performing keywords in broad match types. The bids are also low — in the lower 25% of all bids for a given keyword (if not lower). 

And most importantly — these campaigns have huge lists of negative keywords, so as to never compete with any exact search term we’ve discovered before and not to show on any crap search terms we’ve already proven ineffective in the past. These campaigns keep generating maverick results in Search Term reports. 

And we suggest checking those out on a monthly basis, to gather some potential good keywords and negative ones that have somehow eluded out previous attention. 

Just keep “checking the nets” (i.e. Search Term Report) regularly for the fresh catch of both new good selling keywords and new candidates for negative keywords.

There is yet another place a Seller should visit frequently if she wants to stay on top of things. The customer reviews. All too often customers refer to your product and its features in the same way they would in their daily language. And that makes reviews a valid source of first-hand terms for your product and for things your customers find important about it. 

At one time we helped a dog treat dispenser PL manufacturer with their Amazon Sponsored Ads. And it wasn’t until we got ourselves intimate with those customer reviews of their product AND complementary dog food products, that words like “doggo”, “fido” and “cat-proof” entered our Sponsored Ads targeting options.

Wow… that HAS been quite a long read! 

Let’s quickly recap what we’ve covered:

  • How Amazon.com has changed in 2020 for the US Amazon Sellers
  • Where we can use keywords that we’ve discovered and why we should
  • Using discovered keywords in different match types to achieve maximum effect;
  • Importance of showing info from the right customers and how we can manipulate product listing and advertising with keywords to do so;
  • Where to start your keyword research;
  • How to enrich your keyword harvesting using free tools available;
  • How to use paid tools to cut corners and save time during keyword research;
  • How to keep harvesting keywords after the initial campaign launch and have it perform even better.

We’ve tried to do our best to cover areas of Amazon’s PPC Manager’s day-to-day work that we believe crucial to the success of advertising. The amazon keyword research techniques and tools. 

Of course, products are different! 

And so are the customers looking to buy them. 

On two occasions we’ve witnessed all the keywords (of all match types combined) generating the meek 20% of total advertising sales. The rest was provided by simple automated campaigns, covering over 80%. 

But in all honesty, the other 99% of customer accounts we run Amazon PPC for on a day-to-day basis — totally depend on the right keywords and ASINs we pick to target our Ads at.

Each case is different and many deserve a unique and thoughtful approach to achieve maximum sales and the best ACoS. 

So we urge all of you good Amazon Sellers and Managers out there — never stop your efforts! 

Experiment! Try out new marketing strategies. Alter product title. Use different pictures. Try low bids, try high bids. Set Top-of-Search bid increase to 50% and see if this helps your sales. Create a Halloween campaign where you combine your most trustworthy keywords with “Halloween” or “gift” or “scary” keywords — maybe this will give you a few days of stellar sales in autumn, who knows?

Be bold and be brave, fellow Amazonians! Make 2021 your best year!

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Ihor Dubovetskyi

Ihor Dubovetskyi

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Profit Whales