Finding Hidden Keywords with Mike Ziegler, Marketplace Clicks

February 17, 2018

Running successful Sponsored Product campaigns profitably can be challenging. A fundamental ingredient to success is bidding on the right keywords. If you pick the right keywords then sales will increase. If you pick the wrong ones then you will waste a bunch of money.

That’s what we’re discussing in this episode, finding keywords. We’ll cover setting up keywords for new products along with a key technique to find new keywords for existing products.

“I’ve had clients that think there is a hidden gold set of keywords that will suddenly triple your sales or something,” says former Amazonian Mike Ziegler.

Mike used to work on the Sponsored Products team at Amazon, now he runs a company called Marketplace Clicks. They run PPC campaigns for clients. That service includes the process of bidding on keywords.  Like Mike said, there’s no treasure chest of keywords hidden out there that will help you find the best keywords and quadruple sales.

There are a couple directions we’re going to go in this episode. First, steps you need to take to find keywords for a new product and then finding new keywords for existing products.

The first thing you need to do when you have a new product is think about yourself as the shopper for that product. How do you find it?

“It’s an intuitive process and you can probably easily find 10-20 keywords by just simply putting yourself in the shoes of a shopper and pretending I need this product and if I wanted to get this product how would I find it on Amazon,” Mike says.

Then, look over your listing, really analyze the keyword phrases you’re using in your listing.

“You’re putting in all your features and benefits and unique characteristics of your product then that’s important, then as you’re creating the campaigns use that same information to potentially source new keywords,” Mike says.

Your third step to find new keywords is by looking at your competition. Odds are the product you’re selling is already being sold in one form or another, so take a look at how they’re advertising.

“How are they are phrasing it on their detail pages or on their product title or in their ads and that can be another source of keywords,” Mike says.

Ok a quick review, when you’re launching a new product and you’re looking for keywords, there are three things you can do to figure out the best keywords to start your advertising with. First, think like a shopper, think how a shopper would search for your product. Second, dive into your listing and look at the details of your products. You can find keywords that way. Third, look at your competition, how are they advertising?

“Sourcing that first set of keywords shouldn’t take you too much to think of 15-20 – 25 initial keywords that coupled with an automatic targeting campaign, in my opinion, is a great way to start your advertising,” Mike says.

Mike’s Sponsored Product strategy includes both manual campaigns and automatic targeting campaigns. Automatic targeting campaigns mean Amazon will select what keywords to bid on for you while a manual campaign requires you to pick the keywords. Mike uses automatic targeting campaigns to discover new keywords because Amazon will bid on a variety of keywords, often less obvious keywords. This process will reveal hidden gem keywords that convert traffic into sales and are likely far cheaper to bid on than the obvious keywords that everyone else thought of.

“You’re not using a tool that speculates on what the value of the keyword is. Automatic targeting will actually expose you to those terms and expose you to customers making clicks and it will tell you did it generate a sale or not,” Mike says.

Mike recommends overbidding on automatic campaigns to ensure that Amazon gives you the most keywords possible.

“Automatic targeting is by default enabling all the possible keywords that you could have for a product,” Mike says.

Mike recommends running an automatic targeting campaign for at least a week to get enough data.

Finding hidden gem keywords doesn’t always work.

“Generally the opportunity of uncovering or looking for these hidden keywords is not necessarily as great as a lot of people may think or desire. People are fairly straightforward in what they’re searching for on Amazon and those are the type of keywords that will generate the most volume and could generate the most sales,” Mike says.

Those keywords are also going to be more expensive.  

Now, what do you do you need new keywords fast? For example, what if you are selling an Easter item? Easter is about six weeks away, so you want to get moving through inventory pretty soon. This example will work for any seasonal item when you may not have the luxury of waiting a week or more to flush out keywords.

In this case, still run the automatic campaign, plug in keywords you find into your manual campaign. Also, make sure to keep the automatic campaign because it gives you more exposure to shoppers.

“Amazon doesn’t just exclusively rely on what keywords are bidding on, the automatic targeting is a major source of how they’re finding ads to show up on detail pages,” Mike says.

So let’s go back to the Easter example. Let’s say you’re selling Easter baskets. You want to make sure you’re running both an automatic and manual campaign. As you find new keywords in the automatic campaign, add them to your manual campaign. Make sure to keep the automatic campaign, that keeps your ad showing up on competitor’s detail pages.

Big thanks to Mike Ziegler for sharing his insight on finding new keywords. If you’d like his help you can find him at

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