The Best Amazon PPC Keyword Research Method

lower acos method for amazon ppc

Yo, Badger here. I want to discuss keyword management for Amazon PPC campaigns. Effective keyword management can do a lot of great things for your PPC account, like finding converting keywords, blocking bad ones, lowering your ACOS, and increasing your conversion rate in the process. 

Play Video

Here are the goals of the Research-Peel-Stick-Block Method:

  1. Cheap long tail discovery
  2. Amazon relevancy check
  3. Get real data to help advertise effectively

Before we review the steps of the method, let’s go over things you need to know before you use the RPSB Method. 

What are Amazon PPC Keywords?

Think of keywords as positive and negative. 

Positive Keywords are the words and phrases for active bids and are where you appear to customers. Having great positive keywords are essential to customers finding your product and for you having a great conversion rate. You want most of your budget going to converting positive keywords. 

Amazon Keywords in Seller Central

Bad clicks are like vampires. They suck the life out of your budget and decrease your conversion rate. Keywords that don’t convert are likely not entirely relevant to your product, and they decrease your conversion rate, which in turn decreases your ad rank and hurts your ACOS.

That’s why you should use negative keywords. Negative keywords are keywords you block so your product doesn’t accidentally appear when customers search for the phrase that hurts you. 

This is a live image of an unprofitable keyword sitting in your account. Not really, but vampire Tom Cruise is very much like a bad keyword. Looks good and all, but slowly drains movie budgets and creates a low customer conversion rate for movie viewers.

Keywords vs. Search Terms

Here’s something everyone who runs ads on Amazon PPC should consider.

When we talk about organic searches on Amazon, we use the word “keywords” to describe what people search and how products rank.

For example, you might say, “I rank number one for the keyword ‘climbing shoes.’” You would be correct.

However, when it comes to PPC, there is a big difference between the keyword that takes your money and the search term where you appear.

A keyword takes your money; it’s for your bids. A search term is how you actually appear to a customer.

Knowing the difference is pivotal toward your success with Amazon PPC.

Take a look at the image below from Wordstream. Your keywords can trigger potentially hundreds of different search terms.

The good news is that you can control where you appear by using keyword match types.

Amazon Keywords in Seller Central

  1. Exact Match Keywords are trigger search terms that match your KW exactly. Plurals can be included here. For example, if you bid on exact match “climbing shoe,” you’ll appear for “climbing shoe” or “climbing shoes.” Exact Match gives you the most control for where your search terms appear.
  2. Phrase Match Keywords can trigger search terms that have your KW in a phrase. For example, if you bid on phrase match “climbing shoe,” you can appear for “men’s climbing shoe” or “women’s climbing shoe.” Phrase match gives you a moderate level of control over where you appear.
  3. Broad Match Keywords can trigger for terms that are synonyms or stems of your KW. For example, if you bid on broad match “climbing shoe,” you’ll potentially appear for hundreds, if not thousands, of different search terms. This can vary from “kids climbing shoes” to “men’s climbing gear” to “climbing gear” to “mountaineering equipment.” Broad match gives you the least control over where your search terms appear.
Image courtesy of Wordstream.

What are Long Tail Keywords?

A long tail keyword is a keyword phrase with more than three words that is extremely specific. An example is “An Amazon PPC Software that Lowers ACoS.”

It’s an unpredictable keyword phrase that will have thousands of variations. 

Here’s an example of the keyword “Balm” and its endless variations:


Badger Balm

Discount Badger Balm

Discount Coconut Badger Balm

Discount Coconut Rosemary Badger Balm

Discount Coconut Rosemary Badger Balm Sensitive

Discount Coconut Rosemary Badger Balm Sensitive Skin

Discount Coconut Rosemary Badger Balm Sensitive Skin Organic

Discount Coconut Rosemary Badger Balm Sensitive Skin Organic For Lips


Check out this article Michael wrote for Single Grain discussing long tail keywords and the difference between auto and manual campaigns. 

Now let’s talk about how keyword management can lower your ACOS if done right. Here’s a little ACOS review. 

Introduction to the Research-Peel-Stick-Block Method

The Research-Peel-Stick-Block Method (RPSB) is a great way for beginners to find keywords by getting the most data for the least amount of money. 

Doing this method over and over will ensure your budget is being allocated to winning search terms that convert and blocks search terms that don’t. 

We’ve actually answered this question in many forums and have it on our Amazon PPC Q&A if you haven’t seen it already. 

Here are the steps to the RPSB Method:

  1. Research – Create an auto campaign.
  2. Peel – Take the search terms with the most amount of conversions and create a manual campaign.
  3. Stick – Take those winning search terms and place them in a manual exact match campaign. 
  4. Block – Add that search term to a negative exact match in the original “research campaign.”

Step 1: Run an Auto Campaign for Research

Keyword tools are great and valuable but, in terms of Amazon PPC, you don’t need to pay for an extra service. You can get all your data from Amazon for a small amount of money. The best keyword research tool is an automatic campaign

Why Research is so Important for Amazon PPC

While Amazon hasn’t released this data, on Google, 15% of searches are brand new and have never been searched before. 

If you sold a jump rope, you could brainstorm relevant terms all day and you could use all the tools to find ideas, but what if someone in Austin searches for something along the lines of “jump rope that can stay outside in the sun?” You would have never thought of that, and if you did, you would get very lucky, and  on top of that, you’d have to know how much money to bid on that term. That’s why we have research campaigns and why automatic campaigns are so valuable.

Creating a Campaign

Launch an auto campaign (your products should always have auto campaign visibility). 

We get asked a lot if you should only launch an auto campaign for a limited amount of time. The answer is no.

You should always be collecting that sweet, sweet nectar of long tail goodness that only an automatic campaign can give you. 

If you just launched and are getting worried about your data, remember Amazon usually takes up to 48 hours to provide accurate metrics such as CPC, Conversion Rates, ACOS, Impressions, and Clicks. 

Later you will turn your winning search terms into exact search terms because you’ll know which exact terms converts. 

AutomaticManual Campaigns

A general rule of thumb for naming campaigns: Make them easy to reference while quickly scrolling. You want the campaign name to give you the most information in the shortest amount of time. 

Use this formula:

Targeting type – Product – Target ACoS

Example: AUTO – Badger Balm Coconut – 30%

Set your daily budget to a few bucks since you don’t want to overspend because this campaign is for research purposes only. 

When creating an ad group, group product types together. Be sure to organize your ad groups and campaigns well to save time later because your time is valuable. 

Step 2: Peel Winning Search Terms

After research, we move to the peel stage. On a regular basis, you will scan through your search term report to find the terms that converted. 

Amazon Search Term Reports
To find your winning terms, go to reports -> advertising reports -> search term reports.

Note: Ad Badger is building a tool that does this in seconds for you, we’re here to stomp out spreadsheets. Jump on our mailing list to get notified when it’s ready. 

If you don’t see any conversions, wait a couple more days or go back and optimize your product pages. We tell readers to model their product pages after Amazon’s product, Alexa Echo. This is a good example of how a  product page should look. 

Amazon Alexa Product Page
Notice how this product has plenty of pictures, detailed product description, and many pricing options? This is what your product page should try to look like in order to get more sales.

You’ll know you have all your data when your conversion rate hovers around 10%. This is the average conversion rate for Amazon sellers and a good benchmark to know for advertising. 

You want to identify EVERY search term that receives a conversion and leave behind any search term that received no conversions. The reason we’re doing this exercise is to bid specifically on that search term.

When this term lives in an automatic campaign, we are forced to bid the average of the thousands of terms where we appear. We do RPSB to bid specifically for the term to save money.

Here we identify the winning terms. Conversions add to your overall sales and, even if it’s just a couple conversions, you’ll want to bid on it, if only for a lower amount than your most winning search terms. 

Step 3: Stick Winning Search Terms into a Manual Campaign

Create a new manual campaign and name it “Manual – Product Name Winners Circle – Target ACOS.”

Stick the search terms with conversions into this campaign and increase daily budget to $10 and bids by 10 cents. This is where the Inch-Up Method comes into play. 

Keyword Manual Campaign

Now let’s bid on the specific keyword. 

Low converting keywords end up with lower bids and great ACOS. 

For keywords that were high converting, they’ll end up with higher bids and maximize your revenue.

For more details on calculating bids on Amazon PPC, we have the math for you in our “Bid Calculation Post

Play Video

Choose the Exact Match Type because you know which search terms work exactly. 

Step 4: Block the keywords from triggering in the research campaign

The purpose of the RPSB Method is to lower ACOS and maximize revenue.

You can’t fully do this if you don’t block these search terms from triggering in the original research campaign.  

The last step to the RPSB Method is to turn search terms that converted into a negative exact match in the research ad group.

Keyword Match Type

Choose the exact match type and block those search terms from appearing in your research ad group. These are your negative keywords.

This process of using negative keywords to funnel traffic is known as negative keyword sculpting.

There are variations of this method

You can repeat this method as many times as you want and each time you’ll get more data and raise your target ACOS for better. Soon we’ll see you in the Winner’s Circle.

If you want to lower your ACOS faster, take the top search terms and bid higher on the terms that will surely get conversions.

You can also split your Winner’s Circle exact match into multi-converters and single-converters.

What About Phrase and Broad Match Keywords?

We get asked frequently about when to use phrase and broad match. The answer follows the simple RPSB method. Remember, with phrase & broad match, you appear for many, many different searches. When you open  your Seller Central account and see conversions for broad and phrase match, it’s very likely that the search term was different than the keyword.

Therefore, use phrase & broad. Just be sure you still do the RPSB and keep those separate from your exact match winners.

As Mike mentioned in the video, you can even have a manual research campaign using broad and phrase match to perform the RPSB method. 

It’s also important to note that there are tools like Ad Badger that can lower your ACOS automatically, and you can save a lot of time using them.

Remember that Inch-Up Method I mentioned? Ad Badger can do that for you. Check out how by signing up for a free 30-day trial:

Fantastic! Your special Facebook Group invitation is on its way to your inbox. We can’t wait to see you in The Badger Den.

newsletter love