The Four-Wheel-Drive Method to Farming Keywords

I got a message yesterday from a new-ish customer wanting to know what the best way is to structure Amazon ad campaigns, and how to use them for research.  It comes up a lot, and of course, I understand why.

Most sellers and even agencies operate on a:

1 x automatic campaign

1 x manual campaign with Broad, Phrase, & Exact

Per SKU, or group of variations.


Not any longer.  

You need to farm your ads to yield the best results.  

What you are about to read is not a step-by-step guide to PPC but an idea; one that will make your ad campaigns work together much more successfully.

So, we are farmers.  But not this type…


If you run PPC, you are a farmer.  You are essentially trying to grow fields of keywords and have a healthy crop.  And in the way farmers manage their land, you are going to manage your campaigns.  You need to think a little like an agricultural farmer. 

In your first field, you are going to seek advice and ask a very experienced farmer what he recommends you grow.  His name is Mr Amazon, and he’s seriously bloody rich.  So, you’re going to listen to what he says.

This means setting up an Automatic campaign (per SKU, or at least per variation group).  An auto campaign is a way of asking Amazon to tell you what it thinks are the right keywords for your product.  I call this field your Testing campaign, it’s where you will discover which keywords (seeds) perform the best. 

Remember this old Farmer Amazon is wealthy and he might be telling you to spend cash in ways you don’t want.  So, you need to take some of his ideas and not others.  You can do that with blocking irrelevant search terms via negative keyword matching.  Use Negative Phrase for single words, and Negative Exact for longer phrases. 

It is good to know that this “Testing” field is only for discovering keywords that work.  It is not THE field where you are going to end up growing your incredible crops.  It’s finding out which seeds work in your earth, and what you might need to do to the soil, to make them grow healthy and strong.  It’s a temporary campaign until it has delivered the results you need, then it can be closed, unless it is doing very well and not competing with keywords in any of the following campaigns.

So, we now move on to the flourishing stage.   

Manual Campaigns

You have two things to do now; 1) place the best-performing keywords into your ad campaigns and test them in Broad, Phrase, and Exact at the same price per click… if you are strapped for cash, then choose Phrase only.  Ideally, you want to see which match type a keyword performs the best in, and then remove it from the other types to ensure it does well. You don’t want duplicated keywords being nourished from the same feed.  You want all the search terms channeled by Amazon into the best-performing match type for that keyword.

Note: Don’t block them in the auto campaign until they begin to perform in the manual groups

And 2) do extensive keyword research, you can get tips on this in my Podcast (see the top of this page).

So, now.  You have a “Manual” labor field where you have planted your seeds, cultivated and tilled the earth, and can wait for the sun and water to do their thing.  That means waiting around for six weeks to see what happens, making tweaks here and there to keep things growing right.  I will call this field your Cultivation campaign it is where the main research happens.  If your campaigns are already running, then you need to think of them in this light; testing (discovery), and cultivation (research). 

While this is happening, you must prepare a further field.  To prepare it, you need branded keywords which are the equivalent of the finest muck and manure for cultivating soil.  Especially, your own brand.  If people are searching for it already then those keywords always have a high average clickthrough rate (CTR).  A high CTR helps the algorithm to see that people like your ads enough to click them, so it learns to trust them.  The more it trusts your campaigns the better they will perform at a lower cost.

TIP: if you are launching a product try using a previous campaign that you have paused but unlikely to reuse, and choose one with the highest average CTR.  You will be adding all the new keyword data and ASIN details into previously enriched campaigns, so they will perform faster as they already have a history of trust.

Over the coming weeks, you should see that some keywords in your Manual fields are out-performing others – I’ll call them the golden turnips, and you will have some good CTRs in the new “prepared” field which means the soil is good and ready for your premium seeds. 

In the same way that you moved (migrated) keywords from your Testing to your Cultivation campaigns, you will need to do the same for the new field, your Profitable campaign.  The purpose of the Testing and Cultivation campaigns is to supply the best keywords to enter into your Profitable campaigns.  When keywords have been tested and shown themselves to be golden turnips, you plant them in the new profitable campaign.  This is the campaign where you have been preparing the soil and nourishing it ready for some golden goodness.  You will have weeded them out from all the dross in your research Cultivation campaigns. 

TIP: Don’t block them here until they perform well enough for you in the new profitable campaigns.

It also makes sense to have an additional field.  One where you can throw in cheap seeds just to see if some of it takes.  You can use the same keywords from your research campaigns but keep the cost per click (CPC) super low, like $0.15.  And leave it this way for long-term data.  

So that’s the idea.  You’ve got your fields, you have your seeds, now plant and weed and nourish and prepare for them.  Roll those PPC sleeves up and grow some impressive turnips.

What you do now is all the stuff you can find anywhere on the net about managing bids, using negative keywords, and so on.  I won’t bore you with that.

You know where I am if you need me. 

Once again, thanks for tuning in and reading.  Hope this helped.


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