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Amazon Ads Keyword Targeting, Match Types, & Best Practices

Ryan Faist

Ryan Faist, Channel Key

July 20, 2022

This blog was updated on March 12, 2024.

Keywords play an important role in the success of your Amazon Ads campaigns. Choosing the right keywords helps your ads appear in search results for the right audience. Successful keyword-targeted campaigns leverage search terms that will drive impressions, clicks, and sales. If you don’t add enough keywords or if your keywords are too specific, your ads won’t receive enough impressions to hit your sales goals. If they are too general, you might spend more on ad clicks without generating sales. This article discusses the best practices of finding and using strategic keywords that will help you find the happy medium and build successful campaigns.

Identify Your Purpose

Before adding keywords, think about the purpose of your campaign and consider if you need to use general or specific keywords to achieve your goals. Keep in mind that more specific keywords are more likely to reach a shopper that will click the ad and purchase your product.

For example, if you sell dog shampoo, you should consider whether you want more specific or more general keywords. If you target the keyword “Shampoo,” your ad may receive lots of impressions, but you’ll bid against both dog shampoo and human shampoo keywords. Also, if shoppers looking for human shampoo click your ad for dog shampoo, they’re less likely to make a purchase.

Conversely, if you think Yorkie owners may like your shampoo brand and you target the keyword “Yorkie shampoo,” your ad may not get many impressions. Your conversions would likely be higher than a more generic keyword like “Shampoo” or “Dog Shampoo.”

While there’s no ideal number of keywords, Amazon recommends including at least 25 keywords in your campaigns and ad groups. Consider adding more to ensure that your ads earn enough impressions to meet your sales goals. Some keywords may not receive many impressions because they aren’t common shopping queries.

Automatic and Manual Keyword Targeting

Keyword targeting allows you to choose keywords to show your products in customer searches and detail pages. For Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands campaigns, you can create two types of targeting campaigns: automatic and manual.

Automatic Targeting

With automatic targeting, Amazon will match your ad with keywords and products that are similar to the product in your ad. Amazon chooses keywords and product matches for you based on shopper searches related to your product information. Automatic targeting allows you to create a campaign easily and quickly. After your campaign has been running, you can view its performance in your campaign manager to monitor impressions and clicks to your ad and modify the targeting to meet your goals. When you choose automatic targeting, Amazon uses multiple default strategies to match your ad to a shopper looking for your product. For example, your ad will be eligible to be shown in the search results if your product closely or loosely matches search results from shoppers. Similarly, Amazon will show your ad to shoppers who view the detail pages of products that are substitutes or complements of your ad products. After you create your campaign, you can view these different targeting strategies in the campaign manager and make changes to meet your campaign objectives.

Manual Targeting

For more advanced advertisers who have targeting experience, manual targeting helps you specifically target keywords and products. You can choose different match types for keywords, and choose categories, products, brands, or features related to your product.

  • Broad match: This match type offers your ad broad traffic exposure. A search term will match if it contains all the keyword terms in any order. Broad match also includes the plural form of the keyword, related shopping queries, and other variations that are close to the keyword.
  • Phrase match: The search term must contain the exact phrase or sequence of words. It is more restrictive than broad match and will generally result in more relevant placements for your ad. Phrase match also includes the plural form of the keyword.
  • Exact match: The search term must exactly match the keyword or sequence of words in order for the ad to show and will also match close variations of the exact term. Exact match is the most restrictive match type, but can be more relevant to a search. Exact match also includes the plural form of the keyword.

Negative Keyword Targeting

Negative keywords prevent your ads from displaying when a shopper uses search terms that match your negative keywords. You can use negative keywords to exclude poorly performing searches, reducing your advertising cost and increasing your return on ad spend (ROAS). It can also be used to fine-tune each campaign’s keyword targeting to understand individual performance.

You cannot block ASINs using negative keywords, but negative ASIN targeting is available for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands using product attribute targeting or Sponsored Products using automatic targeting.

Negative keyword targeting is an option in Sponsored Products when selecting automatic targeting or keyword targeting strategy, and in Sponsored Brands when selecting keyword targeting strategy.

Keyword Targeting Best Practices

  • Recommended Keywords
    Review the recommended keywords in the related tab when adding new keywords. These recommendations are based on past shopping queries and ads for the same or similar products. In the case of Sponsored Brands campaigns, they’re based on past shopping queries for the products in the landing page. The recommended keywords will continue to be updated as the campaign runs, so check back in for new recommendations.
  • Search Term Report
    The search term report from your campaigns provides visibility into the actual shopping queries entered by shoppers that resulted in at least one click on your ad. Use this report to identify top-converting search terms and trends. Then bid more competitively on these keywords in your campaigns.
  • Automatic Campaign
    For Sponsored Products campaigns, you can start a new automatic campaign with your ASIN and then create a manual campaign with any shopping queries that meet your performance expectations.
  • Descriptive Words
    Look at the descriptive words you use in your product detail pages (or in the pages of your competitors) and add them as keywords. Brainstorm a list of shopping queries you would expect your customers to use when looking on Amazon for products like yours.
  • Find the Right Number of Keywords for Your Campaign
    While there’s no ideal number of keywords, Amazon recommends including at least 25 keywords in your campaigns and ad groups. Consider adding more keywords to ensure that your ads earn enough impressions to meet your sales goals. Some keywords may not receive many impressions because they aren’t common shopping queries.
  • Branded Terms
    Depending on the objective of the campaign, use branded product keywords (containing your brand name and product name, or some variation of it). Use keywords targeting products similar to yours in the same category or use complementary product keywords. For complementary product keywords, target items sold separately from yours but used together. For example, if you sell SD cards, bid on the keyword “digital camera.” Also consider separating campaigns or ad groups based on campaign objectives.
  • Don’t Set and Forget
    Once your keywords have been running in a campaign for two weeks, check which words are performing best and which search terms generate the best traffic and clicks. Consider archiving your lowest-performing keywords and increasing your bid on the high-performing ones. Look at the suggested bid and suggested bid range for ads that have won impressions over the past 7 days for guidance.
  • Keywords Don’t Compete Against Each Other
    This means that using similar keywords won’t drive the ad cost up or cancel each other out. Amazon suggests keeping similar combinations of ASINs and keywords in the same campaign to best understand your campaign performance. If you advertise the same product with the same keywords across multiple campaigns, your ads won’t perform better or worse, but you’ll have to look at more campaign pages to determine your ad performance.

How Channel Key’s Keyword Strategy Increased Amazon Subscribers by 168%

Pet ‘n Shape is one of the leading dog treat brands in the country, which started when the founder began selling natural dog treats out of the back of his car. As demand for the brand grew, Pet ‘n Shape built a profitable Subscribe and Save business on Amazon. Pet ‘n Shape partnered with Channel Key to develop a marketplace strategy to grow and scale it subscription customers through a combination of advertising and keyword targeting.

Channel Key launched Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Display, and Amazon DSP campaigns that targeted high-traffic keywords and those not bid on by competitors. The goal was to drive and convert more traffic from new-to-brand customers.

Within a year, Detail Page Views increased by 26% and achieved an average conversion rate of 70%. In addition, new-to-brand orders from Sponsored Ads grew by 23% each quarter. Overall, Channel Key was able to increase Subscribe and Save members by 168%.

Channel Key Takeaway

To run successful Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands campaigns, you need to think like your customer. What are they typing in the search bar when looking for products like yours? Remember: Amazon is more than an ecommerce marketplace. It is one of the most powerful search engines in the world. Customers need to find your product to be able to purchase it. Before launching your ad campaigns, take time to research how shoppers are searching for your products. Amazon keyword research tools can help you understand what keywords your competitors are using, how much traffic a particular search term receives, its exact phrase search volume, its broad phrase search volume, and much more. These insights, combined with the best practices outlined above, will help you create Amazon Ads campaigns that reach the right customer at the right time.

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