The Basics of Doing Keyword Research for Amazon PPC Campaigns

Amazon Keyword Research

Amazon PPC advertising is an ever-changing ecosystem, which makes most advertisers susceptible to chasing PPC “hacks” or “tips” to stay ahead of the curve. At Ad Badger, we believe the best strategy in a shifting Amazon PPC ecosystem is to go back to the basics. In this blog post, Brent Zahradnik from AMZ Pathfinder and our very own Michael Facchin will take you on a journey to the foundation and basics of keyword research.

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    The Basics of Keyword Research: Definitions

    Keywords are the bench press of Amazon PPC.

    If you’ve ever listened to a conversation between fitness enthusiasts, you know the “How much do you bench, bro?” question always pops up. The bench press is an unofficial universal metric for strength.

    Keywords are the same thing for Amazon PPC advertising. You can’t have a conversation about Amazon PPC without mentioning keywords. Let’s look at the definitions of some standard terms in keyword research.

    keywords are the bench press of Amazon PPC change my mind

    What is a Keyword?

    If we’re defining a keyword outside the context of Amazon, a keyword is the word you’re trying to match on an internet search. Looking at the evolution of keyword use on Google, there’s a time that all you needed to do was create content and stuff it with keywords, and voila! Google would rank your content high on search results pages. 

    Today, Google doesn’t consider keywords much when ranking content, and they may even try doing away with keywords altogether.

    You’re probably asking yourself, “What has any of this got to do with Amazon PPC advertising?”

    Well, keywords are a critical part of Amazon PPC ads. And in the ever-changing ecosystem of Amazon advertising, we can’t ignore the possibility of Amazon lowering the consideration of keywords when ranking products. We have to explore the possibility of a post-keyword Amazon PPC environment where Amazon prioritizes other factors such as image quality and language to rank products.

    What is a Target?

    A target is a concept unique to Amazon search engines. It’s what we’d call the end goal, which varies for each search.

    An ASIN can be a target since we put that in a campaign. Audiences can be targets. Categories can be targets. And sometimes, a keyword can be used interchangeably as a target.

    What is a Search Term?

    A search term is the phrase a shopper types in the search box, which, in turn, triggers your keyword target. In PPC campaigns, a keyword or target is what you bid on in your campaigns. The search term is what gets you the click and triggers the keyword.

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    Amazon Keyword Research Goals

    With the definitions out of the way, let’s explore the goals of keyword research and why it’s so critical to Amazon PPC advertising.

    There are three main keyword research goals:

    1. Understanding the ecosystem existing in and around a particular keyword

    Depending on your tool, you can gain deeper insight into the ecosystem in and around your primary keyword. For example, keyword volume data can help you predict your keyword’s performance in a campaign. More importantly, you can learn where your keyword sits in the search volume hierarchy compared to other related keywords. These metrics clearly show a keyword’s expected performance in Amazon PPC campaigns.

    2. Discovering new positive keywords related to your primary keyword

    Think of your primary keyword as a seed. When you add the keyword to your keyword research tool, you’re planting a seed to see the branches and fruits that will come from it.

    In this scenario, your seed keyword will produce related keywords and search terms. You can then use these newly discovered keywords in your PPC campaigns to open up new targets and more opportunities for sales.

    Amazon Positive Key Phrases - Hammock
    If "hammock" is the seed, the items in the green box are the fruit.

    3. Identifying negative phrase matches related to your primary keyword

    Keyword research can help you discover related keywords and key phrases that are irrelevant to your product.

    For example, if your primary keyword is “Hammock,” you’ll find related keyphrases such as “cat hammock” and “hammock for stuffed animals.” You’re selling hammocks for humans, so these key phrases, though related to your keyword, are irrelevant to your product, and it’d be a waste of money if you bid on them.

    Amazon Negative Key Phrases - Hammock
    If your goal for "hammock" is humans, then you won't want to appear for the red box items for cats.

    Such key phrases are the negative phrase matches you should block in your campaigns to avoid accidentally bidding on them and wasting your advertising budget.

    Does Amazon Keyword Research Ever End?

    The simple answer is no. Amazon keyword research never ends.

    If you’re an Amazon seller, you already have the top keywords for your product. But, external factors like market forces, major global events, and emerging trends impact the performance of these keywords. You’d need to keep doing keyword research to keep up with these changes.

    Additionally, some sellers have found new product variations through keyword research. Going back to our hammock example, you might discover that people like hammocks with mosquito nets. You can create a product variation of a hammock with a mosquito net to capture that market segment.

    Can I Do Too Much Keyword Research Too Fast?

    Tempting as it may be to hit the ground running with your keyword research method, doing it too fast is counterproductive. 

    Let’s say you want to test a hundred keywords, so you dump all of them in a campaign and set your daily budget. What happens is you get very few clicks and conversions scattered all across your keywords. (Here’s our guide for fixing low-impression, low-click keywords in Amazon PPC.) It takes about 30 clicks on a keyword to know if it’s effective. When you rush the keyword research process, you simply won’t have enough data to accurately judge a keyword’s performance.

    You’re better off narrowing it down to a small group of keywords and giving them time to gather clicks and data. Then, you can make a data-driven decision on the best keywords to keep and which ones to discard.

    What Percentage of the Budget Should Go Into Amazon Keyword Research?

    Keyword research should be a part of your Amazon PPC strategy, and there should be a budget for it.

    According to Brent, you should dedicate 15%-20% of your advertising budget to keyword research. However, if you have a limited budget and already have some winning keywords, you could focus on those before testing more.

    Amazon Keyword Research Tools Worth Looking Into

    Let’s look at the best keyword research tools in the market right now. We’ll split this list into two sections: Amazon’s and third-party tools. Let’s have a look:

    Keyword Research Tools on Amazon

    1. Amazon Brand Analytics: This is a free tool built into Amazon. It doesn’t give search volume data, but it lets you discover the Search Volume Frequency (SFR) that you can break down into weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports. It also offers new keyword ideas, new product ideas, and negative phrase matches.
    2. Product Opportunity Explorer: A fairly new feature still in beta testing in the U.S. It shows keyword search volume and search volume growth for the last 90 days. It also shows the number of units sold over the previous 90 days, average price, and top clicked products.
    3. Auto Campaigns: Your auto campaigns can double up as a keyword research tool. Auto campaigns can help you discover new valuable search terms that you can break down into keywords and integrate into your listings and campaigns.

    Third-Party Amazon Keyword Research Tools

    Most third-party tools have commonalities in their essential features. We won’t break down each one individually. These tools let you put in a seed keyword to discover other related keywords and filter them by different criteria. You can also put in an ASIN to extract top keywords and search terms related to that ASIN.

    Some of our favorite third-party keyword research tools are:

    Wrapping Up Amazon Keyword Research

    Have you felt like the sand is shifting beneath your feet lately as you navigate the ever-changing Amazon PPC advertising seas?

    Well, these keyword research basics should act as a guiding beacon to what matters in PPC advertising. Armed with these keyword research fundamentals, you have a solid foundation upon which you can build kickass advanced Amazon PPC campaign strategies!

    Bernard Gatheru for Ad Badger

    Bernard Gatheru

    Contributing Writer

    B2B eCommerce content writer. Amazon listing expert. Likes hiking up hills and sweating at the gym.

    The PPC Den Podcast

    If you enjoy supplementing your long reads with audio or video, we cover this topic on our podcast as well, The PPC Den.


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