How to Choose Amazon KDP Keywords for Books

author choosing KDP keywords for SEO optimization

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Choosing the correct keywords for your eBook and printed book is vital to its success. Book and author SEO are important to consider for your online book marketing strategy. When Amazon users search for books, the platform uses keywords to match relevant results to their search queries. Studies show that the top 3-4 search results — often determined by Amazon’s best-sellers ranking — are the ones that have the best chance of selling. If you want your book to be discoverable by targeted readers, you need to choose the best Amazon KDP keywords to get the optimal results.

One note to begin, KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing, which is Amazon’s platform for selling eBooks and printed books as an independent author. The information presented here is for your sales page on Amazon, whether you go direct through the platform or partner with a self-publishing company like BookBaby.

Strategies for choosing effective keywords

It’s important to carefully research and choose your keywords to ensure they accurately reflect your book’s content. But you also need to choose words that will be intuitive for your readers to search for. It’s also important to monitor and update keywords periodically, especially if trends in the market change, as indicated by Google Trends, or if you release new works in different genres.

Keywords to avoid

Before you start researching keywords to use, you should first read Amazon’s list of keywords to avoid, so you’re not unintentionally harming your efforts.

Manual Amazon keyword research techniques

Once you know which keywords to avoid, you can start researching which keywords to use. There are two methods: doing a manual search and using a keyword tool. Here is how to do a manual search to find keyword ideas.

First, log out of your Amazon account so your past searches don’t influence your current one.

Then, start typing keywords into the search bar. If you have written a time travel romance, for example, try “time travel romance.” Author and “Kindlepreneur” Dave Chesson recommends you next start going through the alphabet to see what shows up. So, in our example, type “time travel romance a.” When I do this, “Time travel romance Audible books” shows up. Then try “time travel romance b”, and them “time travel romance c,” etc. You may be surprised by what shows up. W, for example, brings up “time travel romance western.” If you have written a time travel western romance, this may be an indication that you will want to use these keywords.

But while this method tells us which keywords are most frequently searched for, it doesn’t tell us if customers are actually buying the books that show up when you do that search. Returning to our example of “time travel romance western,” I clicked on the first title that showed up and checked out its Best Sellers Ranking. It’s currently listed at #494,350, which means it’s not selling particularly well. That can mean one of two things: 1. Not many people are searching for that keyword, or 2. People who did use that keyword didn’t find what they were looking for. Either way, that may mean this isn’t a relevant keyword you want to use.

Keep doing this kind of search until you find keywords that are popular that also lead to books that sell.

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Using software to find KDP keywords

There are a lot of different tools you can use to help find Amazon keywords. Some of these tools, like Publisher Rocket, will show you the average number of pages that use each keyword, the number of competitors, the average price per product, the average monthly earnings, the estimated number of monthly Amazon searches, and how likely you are to get your book ranked. You can also try Chrome extensions like “Also Boughts Downloader” by Kindle Trend.

Using long-tail keywords effectively

Amazon’s algorithm currently favors long-tail keywords, as opposed to broad keywords. “Science fiction” would be an example of a broad keyword, whereas “epic space adventure” would be an example of a long-tail keyword. Long-tail keywords will have fewer monthly searches, but your chances of landing in the top-three spots in the search ranking will be much higher.

Analyzing competitor keywords

If you’re using a tool like one of the ones I mentioned above, you can easily find out what keywords the best-selling books are using in your categories, which can help you decide if you want to compete against them or choose a different, longer-tail keyword instead.

Implementing keywords in your KDP listing

OK, so hopefully you’ve got a head start on your keyword list — you get to use a maximum of seven — now what?

Use as many characters as you can

Amazon lets you use up to 50 characters (including spaces) in your keywords. Studies have shown that you should do your best to use as many of those 50 characters as you can to optimize your listing. And because Amazon uses a Boolean search, it doesn’t matter what order you put your keywords. You can write down “epic dragon comedy” or “dragon comedy epic” or “comedy epic,” “dragon comedy,” etc.

Include keywords in your title

Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but if you can fit one or two keywords into your title or subtitle, that will help Amazon’s algorithm know your book belongs in that category.

Include keywords in your description

It’s debatable whether or not Amazon’s algorithm checks for keywords in book descriptions, but the reader will definitely be looking for them, so try to include keywords in your description.

Updating keywords for seasonal trends

As mentioned above, it’s good to revisit your keywords every few months. Not only do trends change, but it’s possible you can benefit from seasonal or holiday trends.

The importance of the right keyword

KDP keywords are of paramount importance when it comes to making it possible for customers to find your book. Be sure to research your keywords, invest in a keyword research tool, and put yourself into the shoes of your potential readers. What kind of things will they be looking for that will allow them to find your book? With a little research and time, you will greatly improve your book’s Amazon search engine rankings.

If you are still in the process of writing your book and are wondering how to best get your book onto Amazon and other online bookstores, be sure to check out BookBaby’s Self-Publishing packages. They can not only help you get your book onto Amazon, but you will retain 100 percent ownership of your book. Plus, you’ll get support to make sure your KDP keywords are optimized and working hard to bring relevant searches to your book’s sales page.

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