Navigating Amazon KDP ads and keywords

The advent of the internet has changed the landscape of books. Self-publishing is getting easier all the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The biggest hurdle you’ll face as an online bookseller is marketing. Every self-publishing author in 2021 needs to know how to do keyword research! We’ll explain the basics of Amazon KDP ads and then show you how to find the most effective Amazon KDP keywords that will sell your books.

Self-publishing with Amazon KDP

There are various ways to publish your books online, but one of the easiest by far is through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP for short.

Amazon KDP home page

With Amazon KDP you can publish a book in 5 minutes flat; really all you need to do is sign up. There’s also little to no wait time, and after about a day your book will show up as a listing on the Amazon Books storefront. Royalties are quite generous at 70%, so it really is one of the best methods to get your books published fast.

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Amazon KDP advertising

One thing you’ll absolutely need to do is use Amazon KDP advertising. Publishing a book on Amazon is a breeze, but then you need to make sure you’re marketing it. Because there’s an abundance of self-published e-books on Amazon for every genre under the sun, running some paid ads is essential. Amazon KDP advertising lets you run ad campaigns for your book listings.

Sample of Amazon KDP sponsored ads

Sponsored ads appear in the second row above. Notice that they’re larger than the searched-for topic of romance novels.

To run Sponsored ads at the top of a search page as in the screencap above, you first need to create a campaign. It’s easy. You set up a campaign, select which book listing you’re advertising, set a campaign budget, enter in a bunch of keywords to rank for, set bids for each keyword, and start running your ads!

Amazon KDP Marketing Resources start page

While you’re creating the campaign, you’ll get three choices: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands and Lockscreen Ads, each with its own placement on search pages.

Types of Amazon KDP ads

Sponsored Products ads show up like the ones above, on the search results page with a “Sponsored” label on them.

A sample of Amazon KDP sponsored ads

A search for “Economic Books” brings up the titles at the top PLUS a row of larger sponsored ads.

They’re not always limited to the top of a search page; They also show up in a carousel on product pages. These are actually product-targeting ads, where instead of targeting a keyword or search query, you’ve targeted someone else’s book to promote your own book on their page.

Amazon KDP carousel of sponsored ads

A search for a particular book brings up the carousel (in red box) of sponsored ads for related titles.

Meanwhile, a Sponsored Brands ad is more of a “store spotlight” or in this case “author spotlight.” As in the screencap below, you can see a header for author Jenna Hendricks’s store.

Amazon KDP sponsored brands ad

In this Sponsored Brands ad, Jenna Hendricks uses “Clean & Wholesome Cowboy Romance” to grab readers’ attention.

Similar to Sponsored Products ads, Sponsored Brands ads can also use product targeting. They’ll show up as a little box next to the carousel on the listing page.

Sponsored Brands ad with product targeting

A Kindle Lockscreen Ad is unique because it will show up only on a Kindle or Fire Tablet device. These are actually really effective, because the Kindle user can tap on the screen and immediately be redirected to the listing page for the book.

Kindle lockscreen ad

The reader can’t open their book until they see these ads. A single tap will bring them to the ad for the advertised book.

Targeting Amazon KDP keywords

Enough about the ad types. The key goal of any ad campaign for your books is to convert those ads to sales. For this, you need to understand how to target Amazon KDP keywords and know the best ways to find relevant keywords to run your ads for.

Automatic vs Manual

First, you should know what these two types of targeting do. On Amazon Advertising, you can use automatic targeting or manual targeting. The simple explanation is that automatic targeting is good for when you want Amazon to compile an initial set of keywords for you, meanwhile manual targeting is what you need to do for your best keywords to really get the most bang for your buck.

Amazon KDP targeting page

Both targeting types have their advantages and disadvantages, but manual targeting definitely gives you much more control over your ad campaigns. For a deeper understanding of each targeting type, you can read this guide on the key differences between an Amazon PPC manual campaign and Amazon PPC automatic campaign. (Amazon Advertising has the same fundamental functionalities, so reading about Amazon PPC ad campaigns will help you with your Amazon KDP ad campaigns.)

Finding Keywords

There are a couple of ways to find a good set of keywords. The best place to start is the Amazon Search Bar. You can get some common search queries right away, so put in some keywords about your book and find a few keywords to branch off of, as shown below in the search for “self help.”

First step in an Amazon KDP keyword search

Naturally, the search bar on Amazon is not enough. This is why we recommend using keyword research tools. Some free tools that work really well are Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends and ahrefs.

In Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends, you can get the search volume over time for keywords. Input a “seed” keyword—for example, one of those search queries from the Amazon search bar—and voilà! You’ll get a whole list of similar keywords, with search volume over time.

Amazon KDP popularity of search terms

These particular search terms are most popular in November and December.

Meanwhile ahrefs is just as robust a keyword research tool as Google Keyword Planner. On ahrefs you can even filter out your data to JUST Amazon, rather than searching Google and other search engines. Ahrefs does a similar job to Google Keyword Planner. It is a paid service.

keyword search with ahrefs

One alternative method that works well is to use Amazon PPC automatic campaigns. We touched upon this earlier, how automatic targeting essentially lets Amazon collate a bunch of keyword data for you.

We recommend setting aside some budget for automatic campaigns, and letting the campaigns run for about a month. After a month, collect all those keywords, filter out the ones with the highest relevancy and highest conversion rate, and pop them into a manual campaign.

Keyword Relevancy

You have a set of keywords, but how do you know if they’re relevant? This is where you need to use some critical thinking. Here’s a good guideline to follow:

Finding the most relevant keyword

In this example, after a month of experimenting, the seller has taken the three most-searched-for keywords and found the best one to go with in the future.

For the best results from your ad campaigns, you should be looking for above 90% keyword relevancy. On a market as saturated as the Amazon Bookstore, 50% relevancy just isn’t going to cut it.

Remember to collect keywords and search queries first, then sort by relevance and discard the ones that just aren’t relevant enough. Once you’ve used those tools to harvest keywords, you can export all that search volume data into a spreadsheet to go through the keywords with a fine-toothed comb. We recommend quickly assigning % relevancy to each, and then filtering out any that fall below 90%.


We hope you see now that finding Amazon KDP keywords for your books isn’t too tough after all. It is definitely time-intensive, though! Keyword harvesting is half the battle. The next hurdle to overcome is bid optimization. To learn more about keyword and bid optimization, try reading this blog post from SellerMetrics first, and then this one.

Thankfully, there are even more resources available on Amazon PPC management. If you want to save time, you can use Amazon PPC software to manage your Amazon KDP ad campaigns!

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About our guest author

I am Erika Sharma, a Content Creator at SellerMetrics. Our mission is to help Amazon Sellers navigate Amazon PPC by offering them the knowledge and tools to kickstart their Amazon PPC optimization process without hassle.

SellerMetrics is a next-generation Amazon PPC Software. Our software supports both Automated and Bulk Manual bidding workflows that allows complex campaign strategies to be with ease.

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Read more: Amazon updates for book authors » Keep up with the latest improvements from Amazon.
And more: POD book publishing » The best method using both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

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