When you shop on Amazon, I’ll bet you don’t head to the menu, scroll through categories, find the most relevant one, and start browsing.
Of course not.
You go straight to the search bar – just like the millions of other Amazon customers do every single day.
As a result, your ability to be found in the search results of relevant keywords is absolutely critical to your success as an Amazon seller.
And ensuring the results you show up for are actually relevant to your product is particularly important with Amazon PPC because you’re paying for every click.
So, in this article, I’ll guide you through my tried & tested Amazon PPC keyword research process to help you build a laser-focused list of the best keywords to advertise your products on.
Let’s dive in!
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Understanding keywords, search terms, and targets
Before jumping into keyword research for your PPC advertising, it’s important to understand the definitions we’ll use throughout this guide.
Keywords: Words and phrases you give to Amazon in order to define where you want your ads to be shown.
Search terms: The actual customer search queries used by shoppers in the search bar on Amazon that trigger your ads to be shown.
ASINs: Amazon Standard Identification Number – a unique 8-digit number used to identify each product on the platform.
Targets: A collective term for keywords and ASINs within your PPC campaigns.
Throughout this article, I’ll use the term keyword research a lot, but the same principles will often apply with regard to ASINs.
Why is Amazon PPC keyword research so important?
Starting with a clear direction is essential with Amazon PPC for a number of reasons.
1. Finding the best keywords
Using the method I’ll show you in this article allows you to find the best, most relevant, and high search volume keywords that your competitors are currently seeing success with.
This allows you to both avoid keywords you think might work well but actually won’t, and find keywords you may otherwise miss.
2. Creating strategy alignment
As you’ll discover, there’s a clear strategy behind which keywords we use for PPC, and which we don’t.
This means that even if you’ve carried out Amazon keyword research to create a well-optimized listing, you should still put some dedicated time into PPC keyword research.
This will ensure you’re targeting the right keywords at the right time.
3. Speeding up the path to profitability
Before the era of Amazon keyword research tools, sellers used to start PPC advertising with an automatic campaign and then use data from their search term report to create a manual targeting campaign.
This is an outdated method and it is much better practice to carry out in-depth keyword research and then launch with manual targeting campaigns right off the bat.
Doing so saves a significant amount of wasted ad spend in the name of testing and speeds up your path to profitability with Amazon PPC.
So, if keyword research is an important part of your Amazon PPC strategy, we better get into how best to do it!
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Creating a master keyword list
A master keyword list should form the basis of your initial keyword strategy.
This is an organized and filtered list of PPC keywords that you have carefully compiled to make sure your ads are shown in places where you’ll actually make sales.
When it comes to compiling this list, you’ve got two main options.
Option 1: Manual keyword research
If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to do keyword research for your PPC campaigns manually.
To do this you can either compare competitor’s listings to see which keyword phrases they most often use, or use Amazon’s autosuggest functionality.
Start by typing in the seed keyword for your product, then look through the suggested phrases.
To take things up a notch, try the free Chrome extension AMZ Suggestion Expander, or get similar functionality with a free trial for Helium 10’s Chrome extension.
These Chrome extensions will add keywords to the front, end, and middle of the phrase you have typed into the search bar to give you many more options.
Option 2: Keyword research tools
While the free route will save you a bit of money, using a good keyword research tool will save you a lot of time and should be seen as an investment in making you a lot more sales in the long run.
There are a number of Amazon keyword research tools on the market, but my go-to for many years now has been Helium 10.
Within the Helium 10 suite, there are multiple tools that can help with keyword research.
Magnet is an easy starter option, but for the best results, I always use Cerebro.
I wrote a dedicated guide on using this reverse ASIN lookup to find the best keywords for your Amazon listing but will summarize the process for you here.
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Step 1: Search Amazon with your main keyword
Nice and easy to start with… open up amazon.com and start a search with your main or seed keyword.
Step 2: Run Xray and select your competitors
Next up, open the Helium 10 Chome extension and click the Xray tool.
Sort the results by sales to make sure the highest volume products are at the top (as these will likely have the largest number of keywords to analyze).
Then, select the top ten best-selling products that are highly relevant to your product.
It’s important they are as relevant as possible so you can extract the most targeted keywords from this process.
Step 3: Run a Cerebro keyword analysis
Next, click on the Cerebro icon to pull all the data into your Helium 10 dashboard.
Step 4: Filter for the most relevant keywords
Then, once the data has loaded, sort the results by search volume to make sure you’re prioritizing the most valuable keywords.
Next, scroll to the filters section, and under the ‘Ranking Competitors’ heading add a minimum number.
This will then show you only those keywords that at least the number of competitors you’ve entered are ranking for.
You’ll see I started with 14,187 keywords in the initial Cerebro output.
But this included keywords like “pink”, “amazon basics”, “workout equipment”, and “yoga blocks”.
Some of these are slightly relevant, some completely irrelevant.
Remember – we don’t just want any keywords, we want the right keywords as we will paying for every click these ads generate.
So, having entered 8 into the minimum ‘Ranking Competitors’ field you can see it shrinks the keyword list down to 1,295 filtered and much more accurate keyword ideas – less than 10% of our original list.
The higher the number you use (between 1-9) in the ‘Ranking Competitors’ field the more relevant the keywords will be, but the smaller your list will become.
For very popular products like the yoga mat used in my example, this won’t be an issue… over 1,000 keywords is a boatload to be working with!
But for less searched products you may need to try 7 or even 6 in the minimum field.
Step 5: Organize PPC keywords
The final step I then take is to export this list as a spreadsheet to save for future reference.
I’ll do a quick check and remove broad keywords that have somehow slipped through the filters.
Then, depending on your overall Amazon PPC strategy it’s a good idea to segment keywords based on different criteria.
The obvious segments would be low, medium, and high-volume keywords.
Given we’ve already ensured these keywords are relevant, this helps you prioritize the most important targets for launching your PPC campaigns.
If you have historic keyword data a great segment to create is keywords with a high conversion rate.
Keywords with a high conversion rate are often good opportunities to grow organic ranking. By segmenting these keywords you can place them in their own dedicated campaigns for extra control.
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Creating PPC campaigns
Now you have a list of relevant, high-search volume keywords, it’s time to make sure they get some visibility by creating your ad campaigns!
Creating launch campaigns
Using PPC to launch new products on Amazon requires a slightly different approach to advertising established products.
Whereas with established products the goal is long-term growth and profitability combined, a product launch is all about generating organic visibility.
Given Amazon’s A9 algorithm places such an emphasis on relevancy, it’s important to send the right signals about a new product at launch.
As such, we always avoid launching new products with automatic campaigns and instead, launch with very focused manual campaigns.
As a starting point, take your 10-15 most relevant keywords with the highest monthly search volume.
Then, create a manual campaign targeting just these keywords.
If they are high search volume (all 500+) then you should be fine with using exact match, but if you struggle to get enough clicks or just want some extra volume then you can try phrase match.
Run this campaign for the first 1-2 weeks of your launch or until you start seeing some organic keyword ranking.
For maximum bidding and budget control for each of your launch keywords, create a separate campaign for each individual keyword.
It’s more work but can prove highly effective for a successful product launch.
Creating long-term campaigns
Once your products begin to mature, it’s essential to put in place a long-term campaign structure that can continually drive growth and profitability.
To do this you should set your campaigns up to prioritize your most important keywords whilst also researching and testing new keywords.
The key to long-term profitability with Amazon PPC is building a large list of long-tail keywords that are relevant to your product.
Long-tail keywords by nature are more specific search phrases that carry less competition and are therefore cheaper to advertise on.
The downside is they are usually lower-volume keywords which is why building a large list is key.
Setting your campaigns up to continually mine for a growing list of these crucial keywords is what will separate you from lazy advertisers and is well worth the investment of your time.
The best Amazon Advertising keyword research strategy
Carrying out effective Amazon PPC keyword research doesn’t need to take forever.
By following the process laid out in this article you can quickly find high-performing keywords for your Amazon PPC campaigns.
By targeting such keywords you can leverage Amazon ad campaigns to push your products higher in organic search results and grow the profitability of your Amazon business.
You can also structure your campaigns to keep researching for related keywords that you haven’t yet discovered to make sure you’re always on top of new and emerging opportunities.
If you want to take your Amazon PPC game to the next level, why not explore our Amazon PPC course that teaches you everything you need to know to master this critical skill set.
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