Using the Wrong Techniques to Find Keywords for Amazon?

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There is a myth going around at the moment, unfortunately heralded on many so-called “expert” groups, that claims the best way to find keywords for your Amazon blurb is by typing in what you think your readers will search for in your search bar on Amazon. This is entirely wrong for many reasons. This technique is highly damaging to your book’s marketing campaign.

If you are logged in to your Amazon account when you do your research, or possibly if you are using the same computer or location, Amazon remembers what you searched for. This shows up preempted in your search bar. Therefore, if I am searching for books about ghosts in London during the writing of my book, when I come to search for keywords, if I type, “Ghosts” into my search bar, Amazon will always show, “Ghosts in London” as a suggested search phrase. This does not mean everyone else has been searching for this term! Just you!

I often hear people talk about SEO on Amazon. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Amazon’s search engine is built on a traditional catalogue model with a search function to make you buy products. Google is not a finite catalogue of items added to a shop inventory.

Google is a search engine serving the whole Internet, completely obsequious, and non-biased for the most part when serving results, because it wants to refine your searches in order to serve you more ads that you will click, making them money. Amazon is active in pushing for sales from search, and will serve results in a way that profits them best for sales. They do, they will, and they can change listings according to what sells best.

For Amazon optimization, it is simply a case of working out 1. your competitor’s keywords 2. what words Amazon uses to list your book – that is the category 3. what readers search for when looking in that category.

Lucky for you as an author, there’s no secret to keywords or categories.

Amazon publishes these category lists and keywords on their site, so you don’t need anyone to give you any other technique. It just becomes a case of getting very good at using the given tools. The main take-home is that Amazon only shows what is in their shop. Using words Amazon recommends is the best way to show up in results, so no need to get tricky. In fact, doing so could damage your book’s visibility, not improve it, especially if you use brand names or other people’s author names, repeat words in phrases, and ignore the recommended filter words, as suggested in some of these so-called advice columns, but bloggers just keep churning out the myth.

As for competitor keywords, you can jump rank by making sure you use the same words as your competitors. We recommend you use Kindle Spy* to examine how categories are working that very minute for your competitors, or Kindle Samurai* to discover these words. By adding these words, you are making sure you are at least coming up in the same results page as your competitors so you don’t lose any ground. Note the most important place to put your keywords is in your Title.

Reader searches are completely at the mercy of Amazon’s catalogue – and also Amazon’s own agenda for sales and special offers that will override anything else at any time. Keywords are therefore not as important as they might be on Google because of the fact that Amazon wants you to spread out and discover new things to buy, not close in, which is why they keep their book page admin very structured indeed.

While going really niche with keywords can work for something people know about but cannot remember the title, such as typing “Lena Dunham girls biography” would bring Lena Dunham’s book “Not That Kind Of Girl” up first, because the reader wants that exact book, it’s likely with self-published titles that nobody is searching for your exact book. You need to get discovered during a search for books in general, something like “thrillers in London.” These are called “generic” search terms, and aligning these with Amazon’s catalogue and other popular book terms is going to do much better for you that tailoring search terms just to your book alone.

Finally, here’s the kicker to bust this myth a little wider open – Amazon also uses other factors equal to keywords to rank products. Here’s a quote from Seller Central:

“Factors such as price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results.

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