When you self-publish a book on Amazon, an important part of the process is choosing your Kindle Keywords. After all the work authors do writing and formatting their books, sometimes keywords aren’t given the careful attention they deserve, and in this post, I’ll show you how to approach them more intelligently.

For anyone new to this, Kindle Keywords are what you assign to your book to make them more easily found via Amazon’s search algorithm. That’s why it’s so important you choose the right ones. You want your book to show up for relevant terms that have good traffic and low competition. That’s how to get consistent exposure and sales.

While keyword research tools like my software Publisher Rocket can help you find these keywords, there’s still always been a nagging question in the self-publisher community.

You see, Amazon gives you 7 boxes in which you can enter your keywords. And in each box, you can enter up to 50 characters.

But there have been two schools of thought on how to best approach this process.

Some book marketing teachers believe you should enter the exact phrases you want to rank for with no fluff. They think an exact match will help your book show up higher for the phrase you’re targeting.

Other marketers believe in a more hedged approach, teaching that you should try to use all 50 characters in all 7 boxes by stuffing in as many keywords as you can fit. They think this will help you show up for more searches, increasing your exposure to readers.

But which approach is better? I did an experiment to find a data-driven answer to this important question.

Basically, I had people using both approaches switch to the opposite, and then I watched what happened.

Here are Some of the Big Findings from the Experiment.

Using up all 50 characters for your keywords results in broader indexing.

Each Kindle Keyword box can contain up to 50 characters. By using more words and phrases within your text fields, our data conclusively showed that you will index for more phrases–meaning your book will be listed in more search results.

For example, “fantasy dragon war mage wizard” is a nonsense string of text that no self-respecting book editor would allow to go to print. But when it comes to Kindle Keywords, fitting all of these terms into a box can cause you to show up for more searches.

An important note: This doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be anywhere near the top. It just means somewhere in the hundreds or thousands of results, your book is more likely to be listed.

Amazon uses all variations and rearrangements of the words entered within the keyword boxes.

If you were to stuff a keyword box with the words “fantasy dragon war mage wizard” (why yes, I am a nerd), Amazon would index your book for any relevant combination of those words. For example, your epic fantasy would likely be indexed for “fantasy mage”, “dragon mage”, “war wizard”, “wizard fantasy”, etc.

It doesn’t hurt to have the same keyword more than once–but it doesn’t help either.

What happens if you enter the same keyword in different boxes? It turns out that nothing happens really. So you might want to avoid these duplications so you can free up more space for new keywords. Keep in mind, when I say “keyword,” I’m referring to the entire phrase. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “war mage” and “fantasy mage”, you would want to include both these terms exactly. Don’t remove the word “mage” just because it repeats. The point I’m making is you probably won’t benefit from listing “fantasy mage” twice.

Phrase specific targeting absolutely helps your ranking.

Whereas keyword stuffing (using all 50 characters) does help you index for more searches, using specific phrases is the key to ranking higher. Amazon specifically says the degree of word match is directly proportional to how high you’ll rank for a search phrase. And our data definitely confirmed it. So, for example, if you’re wanting to rank for the phrase “Mexican cookbooks for beginners,” using this phrase exactly could help you rank higher for it.


Having your keyword within your title/subtitle does give an increase in rankings.

The experiment showed a 37% increase in ranking when the book’s title/subtitle contained the targeted keyword. That’s important to note. However, this doesn’t mean you should keyword stuff your titles. You need to stick to titles that sound compelling to readers.

So, what should you do with these findings?

The Master Strategy to Maximizing Your Keyword Potential

Here’s what we’ve determined:

A combination of keyword stuffing and targeted phrases works best.

As we mentioned before, when you self-publish your book on Amazon, you are given 7 different keyword boxes.

We’ve found that using 3 of those boxes for specific targeted phrases and 4 for multiple keywords provided the highest return of both visibility and ranking.

This is true whether you’re writing a Mexican cookbook or a military sci fi novel.

And the best way to find those targeted phrases was through the use of Publisher Rocket.

By combining this strategy with the keyword research power of Publisher Rocket, we were able to improve the exposure of over 120 books. It just goes to show that, with a little research, anything is possible.

My hope is that these findings will be a gift to writers who are looking for ways to sell more books on Amazon.

Cheers!

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