What’s the Difference Between Keywords and Customer Search Terms (Search Query) in Amazon PPC Advertising?

What we’ll cover…

Here Are Some Quick and Dirty Definitions

Keywords/Keyword Targets: The words that you want your ads to display on (or words that you bid on in your manual campaigns). 


Customer Search Terms/Search Queries: The words your customers type into the search bar. 


Or to put it even more simply…

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Keywords come from you and search terms come from your customers.

How Keywords and Search Terms Work Together to Help You Reach Your Customers

When you add a keyword to a campaign, you are telling Amazon where you want your ads to show up. Amazon will then try to match your selected keywords with customer search terms depending on the match type you’ve selected. You can read more about match types in this article.

A puzzle comparing Amazon keywords and search terms.

In the example in the photo above, the keyword “colored pencil set” would be matched with the customer search term “colored pencil set for kids” (in a broad match campaign). So, it’s kind of like Amazon’s algorithm acting as a middleman to help you find customers that are looking for your product.

Wow, thanks Amazon!

How to Strategically Use Keywords to Create Better Campaigns

Ok, that makes sense but how does this help me make more money?

A lot of people think that they’re just bidding on keywords but what you’re actually bidding on are search terms.

Wait, what does that mean?

Well, when you enter a keyword into a manual campaign that is a word that you chose because you think it’s relevant. But it’s pretty much impossible to predict all of the potential search terms other people are going to use to find your product.

Let’s see that in action.

Say you put a keyword into a broad match campaign. We can use the example of “colored pencil set” from earlier. From that one keyword target you’re going to be able to get data on a bunch of customer search terms (you can see all of this data by downloading the search term report from Campaign Manager).

The search term report will show you something like this.

A table displaying numerical data.

But you can think about it like this.

A mind map illustrating colored pencils for students, focusing on Amazon keywords.

It’s like each keyword is a seed that sprouts a bunch of search terms. The best part about this is that it’s real data on what your customers are actually typing in the search bar (not just what you think they’re looking for). 

So now, you can use this data to make strategic decisions (and more money).

A toy story character and a toy story character swimming in cash.

For example, maybe you see that the highlighted terms below have a decent conversion rate so they might be good candidates to move into an exact campaign. You’d probably want more than 1 impression before making that decision but you get the idea.

A table with a yellow arrow highlighting the top, illustrating the difference between Amazon keywords and search terms.

How do you use keywords and search terms to help you make decisions in your campaigns?

Did anything in this article spark your curiosity or bring up a question? Comment below or email us at [email protected]. We love talking about PPC!

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