Keywords that Actually Sell Books: Broad vs Niche Keywords

After years of analyzing book shopper behaviors and searching patterns on Amazon through Publisher Rocket, it was found that there are MANY search terms that shoppers type in regularly, but don’t end up making a purchase.  

And if you think about this, this makes sense.  

We’ve all gone to Amazon, made a search, saw that Amazon didn’t present what we were looking for, and so changed the initial search. We keep up this process until we finally find what we are looking for.  

But here’s the thing…after analyzing the data, we found that there is actually a pattern that authors can use in choosing the right keywords.

As it stands with books, many shoppers start with a broad phrase or word to describe the book they are looking for, but will then augment and niche down the search term until they find what they want.  

This is why there are a lot of keywords that have a high number of searches, but doesn’t directly result in sales.

shows that a more specific keyword, even if it has fewer search queries, is still a better keyword
Data Collected Using Publisher Rocket

So, to learn what this means and what actions you should take in order to benefit from this, check out the below article. 

In this article, you will learn:
  1. What are broad and niche terms
  2. The buyer's journey for Amazon book shoppers
  3. How to identify keywords that don’t make sales
  4. Steps to increasing book sales

Broad vs Niche: 

Before we get into the data found and actions to take, let’s first start by explaining what I mean by broad and niche terms: 

Broad Terms: These are usually a word or two that generally describes the book they are looking for but are not very specific like Fantasy book, Self Help, Romance, back to school, etc.

Niche Terms: These are a highly specific set or group of words (sometimes called long-tail) that describe a book more extensively than a broad term. Examples are things like Victorian second chance romance, Alien earth invasion Sci Fi, Going back to school for my GED 

But what’s most interesting about these two is that, as you’ll see, more people search for Broad terms than Niche terms and yet, niche terms are usually where the sales are made. I’ll explain below.   

The Amazon Book Shopper’s Search Journey

According to Amazon, 66% of all book shoppers start their book buying journey with Amazon’s search bar, with the other 34% coming from clicking links from other websites that point to the product, or shopping via favorite book categories.  But what’s important for us to know is that 89% of all those who use the search bar, end in a purchase.*  

But let’s clarify: the 89% isn’t saying that 89% of all searches end in a purchase.  It’s that 89% of those who start the search on Amazon end up with a sale at some point during that visit. 

In truth, based on data collected by Publisher Rocket, most people start their searches, and over many different searches, finally find the kind of book they are looking for.  

And this leads us into the discussion of broad vs. niche keyword terms.  

What we have found is that most Amazon shoppers don’t know exactly what they are looking for.  So, they start by typing in a broad term.  Then as they look at the results, they augment or add another term to the end of their original search term, and keep doing this until Amazon finally presents them with results that are more in favor of what they are looking for.  

Fiction Example:  

Say you type in “Romance Book.”  After seeing most of the results showing muscular men holding scantily clad women, you may realize that you don’t want steamy books and so you’d add some phrase that tones it down, like wholesome or family.  Then after looking at the results, you then realize that you love prairie home style or cowboy romance. So you type something like “wholesome cowboy romance book”.

NonFiction Example: 

Say you type in “back to school.” After looking at the results you realize that there are different levels of school like GED, college or Masters.  So, you add to it “college.” But now you see book covers that show elderly people, young people and people in suits, so you add something like “corporate”.  Then you find options about online learning or what appears to be ‘physically’ going to school and so you change your search again.  

As you can see through these two example, shoppers start with something and narrow down what they are looking for as they shop until they find what they are actually looking for.  

*This statistic was gained at Amazon KDP’s own webinar on KDP publishing

How to Figure Out Which Keywords Sell Better than Others? 

If you don’t have Publisher Rocket, a program that as you’ll see below will directly tell you what keywords are more likely to end in a sale or not, then you’ll need to do some keyword exercises in order to choose what is best. 

For fiction keywords, you’ll want to use the steps I chronicle in this article here, but the premise is that you should create 4 columns on the below subjects and come up with as many keywords as you can think of for each: 

  • Time period and setting
  • Character types or roles
  • Plot Themes or special events
  • Style and tone of your genre

For nonfiction keywords, you’ll want to use the steps I listed here, but basically you should create a list of 3 columns on the below subjects and come up with as many keywords as you can think of for each.  

  • Pain point
  • Desired Results
  • Demographic

Once you have this lists of potential words in all of those categories, then you’ll want to start to group them.  At this point though, without Rocket, you’ll need to guess at which parings are best and then use the steps in my article on how to select your 7 keywords.  

However, for those who have Publisher Rocket, this entire process is much easier, and more exact.  Just recently, we added a new feature that will really help authors.  

new features of Publisher Rocket with color coding

Now, when you do a keyword search and click Analyze, not only does Publisher Rocket tell you how many searches a keyword phrase gets per month on Amazon, it also uses a Red, Yellow, Green system to tell you whether or not you should or shouldn’t target that keyword. 

This color system doesn’t just look at the number, but it also uses historical data and an intricate analysis to decide whether that keyword phrase is more or less likely to end in a sale. 

some keywords have lower search volume but are still labelled green because of the quality of the search term.

This is why Rocket users may see a keyword phrase that has higher searches per month, but have a yellow score, whereas a keyword with lesser searches may have a green score.

It’s because the program is doing the hard part and helping authors to see which ones have the higher chance of actually helping their author show up for the keywords that end in direct sales.  

Basically Rocket does the hard part for you, and helps you to know whether it really is more beneficial or not.  

Check Publisher Rocket!

Conclusion: Niche Keywords Are Better 

As you can see, there are a lot of phrases on Amazon that get searched a lot, but have a lower chance of actually landing a direct sale.  

And just like shoppers, we authors need to niche down our keywords so as to better place our books in front of the right readers.

We can do this by using the column strategy listed above, or we can use Publisher Rocket to get a concrete idea of what is better for our book. 

But either way, knowing about niche terms and book shopper habits can help us make better decisions on what keywords to choose and thus how to better position our books for more sales. 



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