How to Change Your Kindle Keywords and Why You Should

how to change your kindle keywords

Did you know you can change your book’s keywords anytime you want?

In fact, it usually takes Amazon just 24 hours to reflect changes you make, and with the right keyword strategy, this can revive a book that hasn’t been getting consistent sales.

But, in order to do this effectively, you need to have a reliable process. There is actually a best-practice for how and when to change your book’s keywords. And if you don't follow it, you might accidentally hurt your book sales.

So, in this article, you will learn:

  • What happens when you change keywords
  • My process for how to change your keywords effectively
  • Step-by-step instructions for actually changing your keywords

However, before we get into changing keywords, I think it’s really important that we first talk about how keywords work and how Amazon uses them. This, in turn, will help you to fully understand why this keyword changing strategy was built.

With that, let’s get to it!

Here's why you NEED to change your Kindle Keywords and how to do it...Click To Tweet

What Happens When You Select Keywords

So, first things first, let’s discuss what happens when you select keywords for your book.

When you fill in your 7 kindle keyword boxes, you tell Amazon what words or phrases you want your book to show up for.

Kindle-keywords-1

Based on the experiment we performed in this article, using hundreds of books, we discovered the following:

  • Amazon uses all the different combinations of words in each box to create more keyword phrases for your book to show up for.
  • However, the more specific your actual phrase, normally the higher the initial rank you get.
  • Amazon also automatically creates pluralizations of the words and phrases in each box.
  • Words in the title and subtitle carry more weight than in the keyword box.

So, as an example, you may have entered a total of 17 words in these boxes. But using the different combinations and pluralizations, Amazon may index you for 210 phrases and words initially, and at different rankings for each.

But this is just the start. You see, when you publish your book, Amazon will start you with those 210 phrases (just keeping with the example above) and then will test your book over time to see if your book deserves to show up for those keyword phrases.

They want to know if your book converts well enough for those phrases because, after all, Amazon is all about those sales, right? If your book converts well, then Amazon will not only rank your book higher for those phrases, they will also start indexing your book for even more phrases and words. They will keep doing this until they finally see a point where there is diminishing returns and the book will sit until it otherwise proves different. Basically, they reward your book by showing it in more keywords.

Here is an example of what that looks like when your book converts well for those keywords:

keyword ranking conversions

However, if your book shows that it doesn’t convert well for those keywords and shoppers keep passing it by, your book’s rankings will decrease.

keyword rankings when conversions are poor

So, what makes a book fail at converting for keywords? Well, here are a few things:

  • Poor cover
  • Poorly written book description
  • Cover + title + subtitle doesn’t tell the shopper enough about the book
  • Poor reviews
  • Ranking for keywords that are not a good representation of your book
  • Choosing broad keywords that don’t truly fit

So, what does this mean for you?

If you select your keywords, and your book does well with them, Amazon will rank you for more and will help show up more often. If your book doesn’t do well, then your book’s ranking for those keywords will drop and ultimately, your book will disappear from those searches on Amazon.

So, what can we learn from this for changing our keywords?

When Should You Change Your Keywords?

If you haven’t made any sales or KU page reads, then you should change them and see if that can help get you back in the spotlight. I’d also recommend looking at the bullet points above and asking yourself why your original strategy didn't work. Was it because you used the wrong keywords or phrases that didn’t fit or get traffic? Was it because your book needs improvements? Diagnosing the problem can definitely help.

However, if you have a book that is doing well and getting organic sales, you still should think about changing them. Out of the 7 boxes, it might be one or two of them that are actually helping you the most while others are underperforming. Therefore, using the strategy I detail below, you can improve your optimization and grow your sales.

So, What Strategy Should You Use?

Like I said above, there may be a keyword phrase or keyword box that is actually helping you beyond its original meaning.

That keyword phrase may have set Amazon on a path to show your book for other phrases that have been a major driving force for your organic sales.

Therefore, my general rule of thumb for changing keywords is to not change them all at the same time, but instead change only a couple at a time.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Change your keywords in two of the boxes at a time.
  2. Save the two original keywords that were in the box in a separate sheet in case you need them later.
  3. Wait 5-7 days after changing your keywords to see whether you have an uptick in sales or not.
  4. If your sales go down, then put the original two back in and mark that those had an important effect. Then move on to another two boxes.
  5. If your sales go up, then mark those as beneficial keywords, and move on to another two boxes.
For Books in a Series: Steps 4 & 5 are really important. Once you know which keyword phrases are the best for your book, you can use those again for the next book in a series. My recommendation is to use 3 to 4 of your best-proven keyword boxes on the other books in the series, but make the remaining boxes unique to that particular book. This is the best way to handle keywords in a series.

But what happens now? What if you don’t see any sustained sales? Well, that's where my secret strategy comes in.

A Case Study: T.S. Paul Changing Keywords

A lot of times when you change your keywords you will see a bump in sales. The bump in sales happens because there’s some new life Amazon picks up on. They reindex you and they kind of give you a little bit more love just to see if you should be higher in the rankings.

So a lot of authors will change their keywords, and they’ll see a spike–a couple book sales or even 50+ depending on where you are in your author career. This spike is great, but you want to give it enough time to see where it actually settles. Because Amazon might have put you up there near the top but you only sold five books and the book below you was selling seven, so you’re naturally going to fall to where you should be.

So you want to give it enough time to see where you end up.

A great example of using this method well is how author T.S. Paul used it with his science-fiction books. As one of the first adopters of Publisher Rocket, he changed out his keywords and saw a massive bump in sales. In fact, it was a game-changer for him–and that’s part of the reason I had him on the podcast.

Take a listen below.

                                          

So you see, with the right keywords and strategy, you might end up selling more books and even becoming a bestseller.

Step-By-Step: How to Change Your Keywords

In case you don’t know how you can change your keywords, here is a step-by-step process for you:

Kindle keywords are the seven keywords you choose when you first upload your book in your KDP dashboard. You’ll find seven boxes below the “Publishing Rights” section as follows:

7 kindle keywords

It says optional in brackets next to “Your Keywords,” but if you want your books to be indexed and to be found by potential readers, you absolutely must fill in this section!

Here’s a step-by-step guide on changing your keywords:

    1. Navigate to your dashboard here.
    2. Enter your login in details and ensure you are on the Bookshelf tab.Amazon bookshelf tab
  1. Hover over the three dots next to your book and hit “Edit eBook details”.editing your keywords
  2. Scroll down to the seven kindle keyword boxes and change your keywords. 
  3. Hit “Save and Continue” and then “Publish” once you reach your pricing page. 

As I mentioned before, it will take about 24 hours for Amazon to change your keywords. After that, you’ll start seeing differences in how many books you sell, either more or less. Obviously, you’re aiming for more than less, right? And as I've mentioned, if the results aren't positive, you can change your keywords back to what they were before or try different keyword combinations.

My Recommendation for Changing Your Keywords

Changing your keywords is a process that you can do whenever you want, and if done right, it can either spark new life into your book’s sales or improve its already solid stance.

It can also provide you with valuable information on which keyword phrases helped to move the needle. This can improve your next book’s sales, whether in a series or just in the same genre or niche.

So, if you do decide to change your keywords, make sure to use the above process to systematically track and understand which keyword phrases move the needle for your book sales.

Cheers!

32 Comments

  1. Keith on July 28, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you for another great piece of content. I have a question. When the keywords are changed out, have you seen a need to also change the description on Amazon to include those keywords that were just added?

    • Dave Chesson on July 29, 2020 at 9:37 pm

      Not exactly. I’ve never really run into a situation where that altered the way I present the book description.

  2. Marina on July 27, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    Great advice! Thank you.

    • Dave Chesson on July 29, 2020 at 9:39 pm

      Glad to help!

  3. Darryl on July 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Dave, currently I use the 7 keyword boxes plus the search results from Publisher Rocket for advertising campaigns. I was wondering if it is worthwhile to use the same keywords in advertising campaigns if they are already in the 7 keyword boxes? I am thinking that I am essentially paying for advertising keywords that are already being indexed, but wanted to get your thoughts.

    • Dave Chesson on July 29, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      I most definitely do. Sure, I’m trying to rank for them, but it doesn’t mean I’m ranking well. The ads could get my book to the top. So, definitely target them.

  4. Vanessa on July 27, 2020 at 9:59 am

    Thanks, Dave. This is very helpful, and a systematic method for testing keywords. One question: does the order in which you enter the keywords have any bearing on how Amazon ranks the book, or is it relevance that’s the driver? Many thanks.

  5. Anita on July 26, 2020 at 4:48 am

    Thanks for the info. Will certainly try changing keywords. However, I think my main problem is that I have no reviews on Amazon. I do have reviews for some of the same books on Smashwords and more sales there. Amazon makes it difficult to get reviews. I cannot afford to pay for reviews at this stage.

  6. Christa Nardi on July 25, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    Thanks! This was helpful!

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:40 am

      Glad you liked it.

  7. William Ardrey on July 25, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    What is the Formula for –“choosing the right or best Keywords”. What are some examples of this Choosing process?
    Do you use words from the title and or subtitle? Or do you use “Trigger words” such as –Free –Buy Now—Will not last long?

  8. Natcha on July 25, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Do we need to try those phrases we use in that 7 boxes by Amazon search before. Sometimes there is no result so I feel hesitate to use them.

    Thanks.

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:49 am

      Yes, OR if you have Publisher Rocket, then you’ll know if those terms get searched for and by how many people.

  9. Michal on July 25, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Awesome! Big thanks!

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:42 am

      Glad to have helped!

  10. Yong Kang Chan on July 25, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Hey Dave, thanks. This is a great systematic way of testing the keywords. I usually change all the keywords at the same time and have no idea which one works better. Also, using “3 to 4 of your best-proven keyword boxes on the other books in the series” is a good suggestion. I’ll try it. Thank you!

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:48 am

      Awesome and glad to have helped!

  11. Sandra Alex on July 25, 2020 at 2:05 am

    Excellent tips! I’m going to try them right now! Fingers crossed!

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:43 am

      Awesome and sounds good

  12. Anthony Metivier on July 25, 2020 at 1:59 am

    This is great – many thanks. I’ve just initiated a first attempt and set up a record to track.

    I feel that my latest book confused the algos somewhat because I’m bridging two separate niches. I’m a bit reluctant to change the sales copy yet because I think it did well during the launch (hit #1 in 3 categories, even if only for 1.5 weeks).

    Any take on how categories might influence AMS ads? I’m getting some conversions on ads, but haven’t tapped any deep veins yet.

    Ultimately, I want to keep exploring bridging niches because I’ve made it work before… but I have to consider sunk cost fallacy against the fact that those other successes on Amazon were back between 2012-2014. A lot has changed since then – and always appreciate your site and videos for help with navigating those changes every time I work with Amazon. 🙂

    • Michal on July 25, 2020 at 11:07 am

      Categories serve Amazon as an important validating point. For example, the keyword “dragon” may serve the book well if it’s in fantasy genre, but not in romance, even if ‘dragon’ is a part of its title.
      But if you put your dragon-romance book in some fantasy category, the keyword may get traction.

      It works also in the opposite direction. If you try to narrow down your audience with specific keywords and high bids, you’d better not confuse AMS with multiple various categories.

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:44 am

      I’d agree with what Michal said.

  13. Valerie Fletcher Adolph on July 24, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    That’s a useful and seldom mentioned strategy. Thank you for sharing. Keywords are so vital.

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:44 am

      Absolutely

  14. Niyi on July 24, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Is it possible to know the keywords for best sellers in my niche?

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:45 am

      No. The keywords people enter are not available to know.

  15. Paul on July 24, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    I make a few sales on Amazon over several months and usually just get a notification that I have made sales, where do I get the information as to which books made the sales and which keywords were used to make the sale? I have 23 books on Amazon mainly teaching preschool children how to read; I mainly use KDPROCKET to choose my keywords. Thanks.

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:46 am

      Amazon doesn’t offer the ability to know what keywords made the sales. But if you’d like to know which book made sales, you can check your KDP dashboard reports.

  16. Olivier Rebiere on July 24, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Well, what a great strategy! Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Dave Chesson on July 26, 2020 at 12:45 am

      Awesome and glad to have helped!

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Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.

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