3 steps to help start or improve your keyword strategy

Updated August 4, 2023

When customers come to Amazon, they might begin with a shopping query. These are the words or phrases that customers use to look for products. Of course, shoppers can discover your products organically. But shoppers can also discover products that are relevant to them with ads. And when you advertise on Amazon with sponsored ads, you can set keywords to target so that your ad can appear when customers’ shopping queries match the keywords you bid on.

Keyword strategy

A keyword strategy for your sponsored ads campaigns involves finding the right keywords to target, adding them to distinct campaigns that match your goals, and optimizing to help manage your spend and achieve the results you’re looking for. In fact, sellers with a Sponsored Products campaign that ran for 12 months continuously saw on average 11.2% higher return on ad spend (ROAS), compared to their ROAS in the first month.1

Keyword targeting is an option for two sponsored ads solutions: Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands. So let’s explore the key steps to starting and improving on a successful keyword targeting strategy, and the videos and webinars you might be interested in watching to learn more.

Step 1: Find keywords to target

To start a keyword strategy for your Amazon sponsored ads campaigns, the first step is finding relevant ones for your keyword list. Try these four strategies:

  • Leverage your Sponsored Products automatic campaigns. Use your Search Term Report to learn which keywords perform best in your automatic campaigns.
  • Be specific. Use keyword combinations that clearly define your products’ characteristics, materials, or benefits.
  • Use your brand’s name. Include your brand’s name to help increase impressions on branded searches, or even introduce more of your catalog to shoppers browsing for products from your brand by name.
  • Go organic. Use keywords that you’ve added to your product detail page since they’ll have relevance.

With these strategies, you can begin adding keywords to your campaigns.

Want to learn more? Attend this webinar:

Introduction to keywords and sponsored ads

Introduction to keywords and sponsored ads (45 minutes). We’ll cover the ins and outs of keywords in this free webinar—how to find new ones, evaluate existing ones, and adjust them to your goals. Watch it on demand in the learning console (account required), or sign up for an upcoming live session.

Short on time? Watch this video series:

Setting up of keyword targeting in sponsored ads

Setting up your keyword targeting in sponsored ads (8 minutes). In these three short videos, we summarize the essentials of how to get started with keyword targeting.

Step 2. Add your keywords

How specific you get with the keywords you include in your manual keyword targeting matters. If you’re launching a new product and want to help drive awareness, you might want to focus on more generic keywords. But if you’re looking to introduce products to shoppers who are already familiar with your brand, you might want to focus on branded keywords, which include your own brand’s name. Here are some types of keywords to consider for your campaigns:

  • Generic keywords: less specific keywords that are often shorter or representative of broader categories (e.g., chair or dining chair)
  • Longtail keywords: more specific keywords (usually at least a few words long) that generally have lower search volume but higher relevance (e.g., white wood dining chair)
  • Branded keywords: keywords that include your brand’s name (e.g., Modernata dining chair set)
  • Seasonal keywords: keywords that incorporate seasonal terms for particular moments or peak periods during the year (e.g., Valentine’s Day table decor)

It’s important to group your keywords according to your advertising objectives. That way, you can better target keywords, bid, measure, and budget.

Not only does the specificity of your keywords matter, so does the keyword match type. This determines how closely the keywords you bid on match to customer shopping queries. You’ve got three options:

  • Broad match: These least restrictive broad match keywords yield the highest potential traffic exposure. They’re best for driving awareness and for gaining insights into how shoppers are discovering your products. With broad match, your ad can display when shoppers browse using any of the words, in any order. They can be good for your generic keywords, and you can expect to bid higher for these.
  • Phrase match: Slightly more restrictive, phrase match keywords are good for your longtail keyword strategy—those more specific keywords—to help drive consideration and conversion.
  • Exact match: The most restrictive and precise of all, exact match keywords are well suited for helping drive conversions. Add them after you’ve done research on the shopping queries that perform well for you. You might bid lower on these and see lower traffic, but they’re more likely to be highly relevant.

There’s no magic number to how many keywords to add to your keyword targeting, but we do recommend a minimum of 25 terms. Combine the specificity of keywords you use with the right match type for your goals, and you’re well on your way to a successful keyword targeting strategy.

Want to see how to set match types? Watch this video:

Using keyword match types

How to use keyword match types (30 seconds). Keyword match types help you control where your ads may appear. Visit the learning console (account required) to see how to add them in the campaign manager.

Step 3: Optimize your keyword strategy

Keyword targeting isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. Once you’ve had a campaign running for about two weeks, you should have enough insights to make informed optimization decisions for your keyword targeting.

You can improve and optimize your keyword strategy in three ways: by refining match types, adding new keywords, and adding negative keyword targets.

To refine match types, take a look in your campaign manager at which keywords and match types are providing strong results, like a high return on ad spend (ROAS) and a low advertising cost of sales (ACOS). If you’ve got a keyword with a specific match type that’s underdelivering for your specific goal, you can pause it.

To add new keywords, keep checking your Search Term Report to see how shoppers are browsing for your product, and add high performers that match your goals using exact match.

To add negative keywords, consider if there are any shopping queries you don’t wish your ads to show against. If you’re advertising a luxury product, shopping queries like “cheap” or “inexpensive” are likely not relevant for shoppers. You can add those, plus any from your Search Term Report that aren’t driving results. A negative keyword strategy can improve ad relevance. It can help also help you control your budget and ensure a refined keyword targeting strategy.

Recommended webinars to learn more:

Optimizing keywords strategy

Tips for optimizing your keywords strategy (40 minutes). In this free webinar, you'll learn how to get the most out of your campaigns by finding, choosing, and using keywords more effectively. Watch it on demand in the learning console (account required), or sign up for an upcoming live session.

Optimizing campaigns with negative targeting

Deep dive: Optimize your campaigns with negative targeting (40 minutes). In this on-demand webinar, we’ll share tips and techniques for using negative targeting to optimize your Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands campaigns. Watch it on demand.

Recommended video to see how:

adding negative keywords to campaigns

How to add negative keywords to your campaigns (30 seconds). Negative keywords help prevent your ads from appearing on less relevant or low-performing customer shopping queries. Quickly see how to add negative keywords to your campaigns in the learning console (account required).

Starting with these steps, and by making improvements along the way, your keyword targeting strategy can help you run successful campaigns that meet your goals.

Keep learning with us by checking out these essential learning resources. We hope to see you soon at a webinar.

1 Amazon internal data, WW, June 1, 2019–July 30, 2021