I am not an idiot, I do have a basic understanding of how keywords work. Attaining any level of mastery of them has eluded me thus far.
It's true, I can't even get to the top of an Amazon search for my own name. "M.S. Miller" will probably net you a few results on the first page that are mine, but often something else shows up at the top. It's as if Amazon is saying, "Clearly you did not intend to look for this new, independent short story author, so here's what we think you actually meant."
Up to this point, I haven't spent nearly enough time trying to figure out Amazon's algorithm for keywords and searching. I've found that even if you pick a keyword that people use regularly, there's little chance of you getting on the first page of results. Other, better-selling writers will claim the top spots. In the world of search results, if you land on the second page, you may as well not come up in the search results at all.
So now I've come to loathe this part of the publishing process. It's incredibly vital for you to do it perfectly to have even a fighting chance as an independent author who isn't advertising, but I just do not have the time to invest in typing every possible combination into Amazon in order to study and document the results.
There is a tool out there that seemingly does that for you, called KDP Rocket. I only partially understand how it works, so I am not going to get into the specifics on it. I don't understand it well enough to put myself in a position where the software can pay for itself (it's not free). It's a non-starter for me, to invest money into something without having some assurances that it will be money well-invested. (I will pause here to actively solicit your KDP Rocket success stories/offers to help me understand it.)
And yes, I've run Google searches for alternatives and articles to help educate me. I'm still not completely understanding how one can easily find good keywords without devoting several hours of time. My current method just involves guessing, which probably explains my current sales numbers to a large extent. I know I have to get better, but I don't have the time to learn it and no one is offering something quick and easy that meets my budget requirements (free). (Another pause while you offer a free tool that you use that works well.)
Lastly, I understand that keywords are only part of the battle against Amazon's algorithm. Reviews factor into search rankings too. Sounds like a good topic for next week.