The Power of Keywords: Optimizing Your Amazon Presence

Believe it or not, Amazon isn’t that different from Google. Consider it a search engine… where you can buy stuff. (The best of both worlds, right?)

Just like Google or another search engine tool, Amazon operates on an algorithm that allows users to search for results based on a few keywords. And the more a product is clicked based on a specific keyword combo, the “smarter” the search becomes.

The moment your book is up on Amazon, it can be found via search–but usually, it takes time for it to be found organically. The more it’s searched for and the more optimized your keywords are, the “smarter” the algorithm is in taking viewers to your product.

Use smart keywords, and let Amazon do the selling for you. Click To Tweet

So, what does it actually mean to leverage keywords and optimize your book’s Amazon presence?

Basically, you build key descriptions and keyword phrases into your Amazon copy (title, subtitle, product description, and metadata) in order to improve discoverability. If your book only popped up on Amazon when someone typed in the exact title, it wouldn’t show up very often, you know? That’s where keywords and key phrases come in. Along with a handful of other elements, such as your sales history and ranking, these relevant keywords will enhance the book’s placement in search results on Amazon.

Amazon wants people to buy books, right? That’s its whole purpose–to sell products. It’s forever optimizing and “thinking” to do so. So, if a certain combo of keywords leads to someone buying your book, those keywords will bring up your product more effectively the next time, and even more so, the next. (By “effectively,” I mean “closer to the first page of search results”–which is really important for discoverability. If you show up on the first page, you’re killing it!)

Pack your product description copy with keywords and key phrases that people would search for. Additionally, use the “keywords” box on your Author Central and/or Kindle Direct Publishing page to input your top key phrases. The “keywords” box allows you to build relevant phrases into your sneaky “behind the scenes” metadata. (Note: If you’re not a self-published author currently building out your book profile, you might have to contact Amazon Author Central directly in order to input keywords. Here’s the link to do so.)

Here are some pointers to consider with keyword entry:

  • Insert the maximum number (7) of words or phrases, separated by commas. Avoid quotation marks.
  • Put keywords in the most logical order that people will search for them. Order matters.
  • As always, think about your target audience. What are the exact words they’re going to be searching for?
  • Don’t waste space by including words that are already in your title and subtitle.
  • Avoid words that are generic or subjective. The word “book” isn’t going to do much for you, and neither will phrases like “the best” or “a great resource.” Be specific; feed your niche.
  • Think of the phrases that have super low competition (not everyone else is using them) but high demand (they match your people’s felt needs). This is where the gold is.

The best part of digital marketing is that you can change your game on a dime. It’s easy to make adjustments based on real-time data, so experiment a little bit. Input some keywords and phrases, and then use them to search for your book and see what happens. You can edit your keywords and descriptions whenever you’d like, so consider it a process of continual improvement.

A few “dont’s” regarding Amazon keywords:

  • Don’t believe that they affect other search engines. This has been debated, but the truth is that they don’t. They’re internal only.
  • Don’t trick people with hot phrases that don’t actually match your product. You’d be surprised by how often folks do this, even just a little bit. But if the keyword combo doesn’t lead to sales, it won’t work. So don’t try.
  • Don’t litter your page with the same quips and keywords over and over. It’s obvious, awkward, and doesn’t help.

The truth is that optimization of Amazon keywords is not going to be the make-it or break-it factor for your book, but it’s pretty darn important. Think about it…

More than 50% of all traditionally-published book sales (of all formats) happen on Amazon, and that number is even higher (much higher!) for self-published products. That’s millions of book buyers–all in one place and all with the capability to search for books that meet their needs.


  • Hey Chad, I’m in the back end of my Author Central page, and I don’t see a spot anywhere for keywords. Mind pointing me in the right direction? Thanks!

    • Tsh, my apologies. We should have been more clear in this blog that this is if you’re self publishing and you can do this while setting up the book profile. That said, you can still update these through Author Central, but you’ll have to contact them directly. Here’s a link with information at the bottom of this page about Search Terms: We’ll update this blog with this information.