Self Publishing: All about Keywords on Amazon

There are a lot of really great things you can do to increase your chances of success when publishing on Kindle. There’s so much, in fact, that it can be overwhelming.

The thing is, Amazon works a lot like Google. Yes, that’s right—Amazon is its own search engine. If you know anything about search engine marketing, then you know just how important it is to pay attention to keywords.

Keywords help connect people to things. Whether it’s in the Amazon search engine or the Google search engine, people type keywords in the search bar in the hopes of finding exactly what they need.

You want people to find your book. You know that your book is exactly what people need. How are they going to find your book? One possibility is that you’ll use keywords to help connect them with the books you self-publish.

When you publish your book, Amazon provides a field for you to input keywords. Here’s what they have to say about improving your discoverability with keyboards:

What You Need To Know About Keywords On Amazon

If you were just about to hop on over to Amazon to start adding keywords to books you’ve already published, hold on just a second. It’s so important to make sure you’re using the right keywords.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is using keywords that are too general. They’ll see that Amazon has that field to put keywords in and assume they can just put in any old term that’s related to their book and pops up at the top of their head.

Not so fast. It’s important to remember how much competition there is on Kindle. You aren’t going to be able to write a book about marketing and be able to use “marketing” as your keyword and rank #1.

In general, unless you and your books are already wildly popular, it’s so important to make sure you use more specific keywords. People aren’t just typing “marketing” into the search engines… they are typing keywords in that are so much more specific. Today’s searchers know exactly what they want and they know how to search for it.

Make your book findable by using keywords that get to the heart of what it’s about.

Consider the competition. If you have the chance to use a term that’s super competitive and not very specific vs. a term that’s not quite as competitive (but still searched for) and very specific, go for the more specific option.

Choose your keywords wisely.


· Whether people are actually searching for the term on Amazon (hint: when you start to type a more general term into the Amazon search box, search suggestions will pop up. This is a great way to zero in on some less competitive but still-searched keywords).

· Whether you can actually rank for the term. You want to make it easier to be found when you/your book aren’t quite popular enough to be searched for on your own quite yet.

· Whether people are buying based on the term. This is less of a concern on a site like Amazon because it’s an e-commerce site. People who are searching around on Amazon are most likely looking to buy. Still, it’s something to consider when you choose your keywords.

How Many Keywords Can You Use?

Keep in mind that you don’t get to use an unlimited number of keywords. You get to use 7. You have to use them wisely.

One consideration is the keywords you can rank for and that are widely searched. Another consideration is which keywords can get you into specific categories on Kindle, beyond what you can choose when you select two using the category drop-down. I’ll get into that soon.

Note that, even though you are restricted in number, there’s no reason you can’t use very long tail keywords that would contain a few (or even several) of the keywords you wish you could use. I’m not necessarily talking about stuffing keywords—use keywords that make sense and make the best use of the space you have available.

I recommend you use a mixture. You might use certain keywords that are more general, designed to help you get into specific categories. Use very specific, lower competition keywords. Use keywords that most closely describe the book.

Note that there are no correct answers here. You might have to try to test a variety of keywords. Also note that Amazon’s algorithms change, people’s search and buying habits change, and so on. This is a moving target—but it is a good idea to be as smart about this as possible.

The Relationship Between Keywords And Categories

This is a surprisingly little known fact about Amazon, but some of the keywords you use can help you get into certain categories.

Here’s what Amazon has to say about it:

Let’s say you wrote a business book tailored to startups. You could use that term (“startups”) as one of your keywords to try to get into the startup category.

How to Spy On Successful Books to Figure out Keywords

There’s no easy way to figure out exactly which keywords other authors are using on their books.

What you can do is make your best guess and do some searches and data gathering on Amazon.

Which books show up for the search terms you test and use?

What are their rankings?

You can use keywords and key phrases with quotes to get even more accurate data.

Make a list of the keywords you want to test out.

What Keywords Can and Can’t Do For You

Using keywords on Kindle can be extremely beneficial. Keywords can be one of the things that spell success or failure for your book.

That’s one of the key things right there—it’s just one of the things that can lead to success or failure.

Sometimes, people hear information on using keywords for Kindle, like what you see above, and assume that as long as they spend time figuring out keywords, they’ll instantly see their book take off and they’ll make money hand over fist as a self-published author.

That’s not the case. You’re still going to have to drive traffic to your books and really work hard to get your books seen.

Once you start to get reviews and make sales, Amazon’s algorithms can take over and you can make even more sales. Keywords can help you a great deal with that.

Tweak Your Keywords and Use Them from Here On Out

Now that you know a lot about using keywords on Amazon, it’s time to go back through the books you’ve already published and see if you can make some changes.

You never know—some simple keyword adjustments could really improve things for you.

Remember to also drive some traffic and send your lists to the books you’re testing so you can get sales and give your books the best chance of having those keywords take hold, giving your book the best chance of success.

Whenever you list a new book, take the time to do some research so you can find some great keywords to use.

Simply by using keywords the right way, you’ll be ahead of most of your competition—even many in traditional publishing.

Drive traffic to those optimized book pages and you should be rewarded.



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