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Common Word Targeting

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

This one’s controversial. I’ve been on many different blogs/youtube pages/self-publishing guru websites and none of them recommend this. And yet, month over month, it accounts for half of sales on Amazon if not more. So what is common word targeting?


Common Word Targeting - The targeting of words based on common phrases in the english language rather than words related to a book.


This can mean targeting a list of extreme sports when advertising for a book about nature. It can mean targeting the 100 most common words in the English language. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve worked on some authors account and they’ve looked through their keywords and thrown a fit because they think I’ve just stuffed their account with wasted ad spend.


Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes - the relevance score (CTR) can be low but we are only human and sometimes, we don’t realize all the realm of possibilities that people might be searching for in which an ad for our book, might be more relevant than meets the eye.


If your ads aren't working, which I cover the Top 9 Reasons HERE, this is another strategy you can apply.


3 Real Examples why this can make sense:

I was advertising for a book about nature. Obviously bid strategy and amount play into this hugely. I won’t give you what I bid but I will say that you should be bidding very low when using this strategy. ACOS is always below 40% (Calculating your ACOS) and sales are >$1,000 per month. I have a list of extreme sports that I use to target most books I advertise for. One of the words on list this started to drive immense traffic: Mountaineering. Of course! This is obviously related to this book but I, nor the author would have ever thought about that word.


Next, my own book. I was targeting the word, “Gardening”. My book is about the college to career journey: Experience Over Degrees. It has, at face value, absolutely no relevance to the word gardening. But….we sold copies from the word. My guess is some parent was in their looking up gardening stuff, saw our book, and thought, “Hmm….this could be great for little Johnny”. Would I have ever made the connection to target gardening based on the notion that some parents are into gardening? No. Someone might argue, well that’s impossible, how did you show up for that when The Machine knows your book is about professionalism? That’s what I mean, don’t assume for one second that you know what’s going on in the mind of The Machine. I get frustrated with how sure everyone is that their way is right when the truth is, no one knows what’s really going on, best we can do is be sure to try everything.


The third reason I use common targeting is because what you might be targeting seems irrelevant but when Amazon uses their broad match targeting and puts your word with a bunch of other words, it can end up being very relevant. I’ll give this one away. I think everyone should target the word book. Doesn’t mean you’ll get any clicks with it but it does open you up to the opportunity that a lot of people searching for books, put “Book” at the end of their search. This means that when Amazon sees a search with the word and a few other words that it deems relevant to your book, you show up. Again, I’d bid cheaply because this can also run you up a tab but I think you get the point. You can also read my article here, about some various bid strategies you can use for these campaigns.


So, you should use common word targeting because,

  1. You can’t possibly come up with everything related to your book

  2. You don’t know what Amazon has scored you as relevant for

  3. Your common word could fit into a very relevant phrase that someone searches for.


One thing to note, if you decide to go crazy with it (like I did at first) and wouldn’t necessarily fill a whole account with common words, BUT….there are limits to the amount of targeting you can do on one account. They are as follows:


Campaigns: 10,000

Ad groups in a campaign: 20,000

Ad groups in an account: 200,000

Ads in an ad group: 10,000 for manual targeting and 500,000 for automatic targeting

Ads in an account: 2,000,000

Keywords in a campaign: 1,000 for manual targeting Keywords in an account: 2,000,000



I’ll leave you with a few examples:


Common Word: Bull$h!+

Customer Search Term: Bull$h!+ Jobs

AMS Common Word Targeting

Common Word: barbara

Customer Search Term: Barbara Brackman books

AMS Targeting Strategies

I also live called Amazon Support to clear up the myths around common targeting in my new, just released course. I would also consider running these ads in your foreign markets accounts as well. In this article, I talk about how running ads in Canada can make up 30% of sales.


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