How to choose keywords for Amazon

Updated and rewritten by Laura Melchor

Picking the right keywords for Amazon is almost as important as selling a top-quality product in the first place. You’re competing with millions and millions of other sellers. The customer base is enormous, too – hundreds of millions of people use Amazon every day. 

And we all know the dreaded statistic about search engine results pages. (You know, the one where most people only look on the first page of search results when they shop for a product.)

In other words, the stakes are high. Your hopes and dreams as an Amazon seller kinda ride on your keyword strategy. 

No pressure, right? 

Before you stress out too much, take a look at this guide to picking the best keywords for your Amazon product listings. We’ll show you how to choose keywords that put your products in front of the right eyes. 

Understanding Amazon’s search algorithm

No one except Amazon knows exactly how the Amazon search algorithm works. But the company’s been around long enough for marketers to make educated observations. 

Like any search engine, the algorithm has one core goal: to match search engine users with the information they seek. Except Amazon SEO’s purview is narrower than Google’s. Instead of matching information with searchers, it’s matching customers with the exact product they’re looking for. 

To do this, the algorithm: 

  • Matches search terms with product titles, descriptions, and other details 
  • Observes customer behavior, taking note of what gets the most clicks and purchases
  • Analyzes user ratings and reviews
  • Takes note of which products sell better than others
  • Keeps tabs on which items have the best prices and availability 

It’s a lot to keep track of, we know. And the algorithm constantly learns and evolves with shopping trends. 

But you can only control a few things when it comes to making the algorithm your friend: the pricing, quality, and availability of your product…and the keywords you choose to use. 

So let’s dig into the different types of target keywords you should weave into your Amazon listing for Amazon SERP optimization.

Types of keywords for Amazon

There are three types of keywords you need to know about as an Amazon seller: primary, long-tail, and backend keywords. 

Primary keywords

A primary keyword is the main phrase customers search for when they enter a term into the Amazon search bar. 

If you were looking for the perfect book to read on a cold winter day when you’re dreaming of summer, you might enter a search term like best summer reads. The Amazon algorithm would then do its best to serve you a list of the most relevant books. 

Screenshot of books on Amazon (Best summer reads)

Primary keywords are usually one to three words long. (They’re sometimes called short-tail keywords.) They’re important to use because they have a high search volume, which means lots of people are using them in their Amazon searches. But they tend to have a ton of competition. 

Still, they’re important. Primary keywords help your product show up in common searches. They boost your relevance, too. Let’s say you’re a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) author. You use a keyword like best summer reads for your cozy seaside mystery book. 

Yes, tons of other authors are using the same primary keyword. But if you use the keyword too, Amazon knows that your book fits in with this genre of books.  

You can then use a mix of different primary, long-tail, and backend keywords to target a narrower audience. 

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are the search terms customers put in when they know exactly what they’re looking for. Think best summer reads (primary keyword) vs. Every Summer After by Carley Fortune (long-tail keyword). 

If you enter this keyword into Amazon, you’ll notice other long-tail keywords pop up in the search bar’s autocomplete feature. Like Every Summer After Carley Fortune Kindle. Or Every Summer After Kindle Unlimited

When you’re looking for the right keywords to include in your listing, pay attention to the autocomplete feature! This drop-down menu offers up other relevant keywords you can (and should!) use. 

Screenshot of URLs on the Amazon search for "Every summer after by carl".

Backend keywords

Backend keywords are search terms users can’t see. Amazon lets you enter them into a specific field when you edit a product listing. 

These keywords may be invisible to shoppers, but they aren’t invisible to the Amazon algorithm. They give you a place to put different keywords that are relevant to your product but don’t look great on your product listing. 

Like misspellings. Or translations. Or synonyms. 

Look closely at the screenshot for the keyword search for Every Summer After by Carley Fortune. You might just notice something that happens all the time on Amazon: a misspelling. One of the top search terms is Every Summer After by Carly Fortune

Carly, instead of Carley. If the publisher wanted to rank for the misspelled keyword, they could use it as a backend keyword.

Building the perfect list of keywords

Now you know the three types of keywords that matter on Amazon. 

So where can you find the best keywords to use in your product listings?

We’ve got a few favorite places:

  • Ahrefs 
  • Google Keyword Planner 
  • Keyword Scout from Jungle Scout
  • Sonar from Perpetua 
  • Helium 10
  • SellerApp

Learn more about each of these in our guide to Amazon keyword research tools. You can also look for industry-specific tools like Publisher Rocket. This tool focuses on finding KDP keywords popular on self-publishing platforms, like the Kindle store. 

Finding specific keywords with these tools is easy. While each of them is unique, they function in a similar way. You start with a general keyword or topic. Let’s say you’re writing a romance book to sell on Amazon KDP. You might put romance books for Kindle in an Amazon Seller tool like Publisher Rocket or Ahrefs. 

Ahrefs lets you choose between four search engines: Google, Bing, YouTube, and Amazon, making Amazon keyword research extra easy. 

We tested Ahrefs out with the romance books for Kindle search topic. The tool generated tons of primary, long-tail, and backend keywords for free. 

AHRefs screenshot for "Romance books for Kindle" with search volume in the united states

You’d then have an idea of good keywords for your Kindle book.

Whether you’re selling books or e-commerce goods, you’ll want to collect: 

  • 3-5 target keywords: these are your dream primary keywords to rank for, but they’re usually competitive with a high search volume
  • 10-20 secondary keywords: these primary keywords have a lower search volume, which means you’re more likely to rank for them
  • 10-30 long-tail keywords: while they’re not as competitive or high-volume as primary keywords, long-tail keywords help customers find exactly what they’re looking for
  • 250 bytes of backend keywords: Amazon only gives you 250 bytes for your backend keywords, which equals about 250 characters if your keywords only include letters or numbers

Once you’ve built your keyword list, you’re ready to design a well-optimized product listing on Amazon. 

How to use Amazon keywords

Now that you have your list of keywords, you might be wondering where to put them in your listing. 

First things first: you only need to use each keyword one time. Keyword stuffing not only won’t help you, it’ll actually hurt your ranking and may even get your listing suppressed.

Here’s what to do instead: 

  • Product title: put your 3-5 target keywords here
  • Bullet points: add secondary and long-tail keywords
  • Product description: place any not-yet-used secondary and long-tail keywords here
  • Backend search terms: add your backend keywords here
  • Questions & answers section: weave long-tail keywords into your answers when appropriate

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to avoid stuffing your product description with keywords. If you’re not sure whether customers would click on your product description, run an Open-Ended poll to Amazon Prime users on PickFu after you strategically place your Amazon keywords. 

You can ask your target audience if the description is compelling and easy to read. They’ll give it to you straight if it’s not. Another strategy is to pit your product listing against a competitor’s in a Head-to-Head poll. Just ask your respondents which listing they’d pick and why. 

PickFu respondents may not have know-how on Amazon keyword strategy, but as potential customers, they offer the most valuable perspective around.  

And if they pick your competitor’s listing over yours, you’ve got some work to do! 


What are keywords in Amazon?

Keywords are phrases or words that customers use when they search for products. They help connect Amazon customers with the products they’re looking for.  Sellers should include primary, secondary, long-tail, and backend keywords in their Amazon listings. These keywords help products get ranked higher on search pages and align searches with customer intent. You can use them whether you are selling apps, books, or e-commerce products. 

What are the most searched keywords on Amazon kdp?

The most-searched keywords on Amazon KDP change from day to day depending on a range of factors, like which books are current best sellers. You can use a keyword research tool like Publisher Rocket or Ahrefs to find popular keyword ideas that match your book description and book title. Adjust your strategy as you garner book sales. 

How to find keywords for Amazon PPC?

Use a keyword research tool to find keywords for Amazon pay-per-click (PPC) ads. These tools can give you deeper metrics and insights on top keywords. Amazon GEN AI tools can help too. Pick a mix of low- and high-volume keywords, just like you would on your normal Amazon listing. Use Amazon’s search bar for autocomplete suggestions. Regularly review and adjust your keywords based on how well they’re performing in your Amazon ads. 

Learn more: Optimize your product listings by testing design concepts, photos, and descriptions with a target audience of likely buyers.

Laura Ojeda Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in,, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle-grade novel, Missing Okalee, was published in the fall of 2021 by Shadow Mountain Publishing.