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7 Tips for Amazon Keywords and Best Selling Books

6 October 2013

From How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks:

Best selling books are more likely to happen when authors use smart Amazon keywords. Are you using yours wisely to help strangers from all over the world find your books? Most authors are not because the whole metadata thing can be confusing. Think of it like this:

  • At bookstores, readers browse in sections where covers, titles and blurbs help them decide to inspect further.
  • Online, readers type phrases into the search bar where the most relevant books show up in the results (or the books Amazon thinks are most relevant).

. . . .

1. Make a list of words customers might use in the search bar to find what they want to read that is also what your book is about. This is called relevance. You don’t have to worry about a search for your name or book title. Those results will do fine on their own. You want to focus on subjects in your book like “travel writing” or “young adult romance” or “dating for women” as examples. From Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Along with factors like sales history and Amazon Best Sellers Rank, relevant keywords can boost your placement in search results on Amazon.com.

2. Test these words at Amazon. How? Type them into the search bar slowly, one letter at a time and watch as prompts appear with words Amazon thinks you might be looking for in the search field. Example: if you type in R-E-I, the word “reincarnation” comes up immediately in the drop-down menu but it takes R-E-I-N-C before “reincarnation books” appears. This indicates to me that reincarnation is probably a better choice than reincarnation books if that is a major subject in your story.

. . . .

4. If possible, adding keywords to your book’s title or subtitle will do more good than at any other location since the title is most influential on search results. For non-fiction especially, your title must be related to search terms. For fiction, this can be hard if you already have a title and are set on keeping it. Perhaps the title is Dawn’s Quest. A brief subtitle will help bunches with keywords that actually get searched like Dawn’s Quest: A Caribbean Mystery. Don’t feel like doing that? I understand–most of my fiction titles don’t have keywords either, but it makes the battle that much harder to reach the top.

. . . .

5. Some Categories are linked with Keyword Requirements

The genres below are designed to be linked with keyword suggestions that help rank books in certain categories. Click on the genre to see some of the recommended keywords to rank your book in the top #100 of a specific category. (Notice the yellow highlight example for “new adult” as a keyword requirement for the broader category of Romance–New Age & College–New Adult.)

Link to the rest at How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks and thanks to Janice for the tip.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Self-Publishing

6 Comments to “7 Tips for Amazon Keywords and Best Selling Books”

  1. For many of us this is actually fairly bad advice. Amazon uses keywords to filter what subcategories your novel is listed in, and getting your novel into the correct subcategory in many genres is very important. Paranormal, Fantasy and historical fiction amongst others have subcategories that ONLY AMAZON can place a novel in. These are important for visibility and require a lot of thought as to keywords. SEO really isn’t what the Amazon keywords are about.

    • This advice is directly in accordance with KDP Amazon’s recent recommendations and cross-checking other word choices with Google Planner. If you believe in another Keyword choosing system, I’d be happy to hear it.

  2. From what I heard and I consider it quite reliable, every word in your sample goes into the Amazon search engine. In which case ^ JR Tomlin’s got it about right. The keywords are to fine tune your category.

    That said I still think readers are able to find what they’re looking for pretty easily. Unfortunately, they may not always be looking for our books, or when they see them, just don’t click with them.

    Write what people want to read.

  3. Interesting to see ‘space marine’ on the amazon list. Perhaps they would have been the next victim if Hogarth hadn’t fought back.

  4. I tested out a few things with keywords and searches, and his advice is not so bad. (I will admit to not having clicked through to his full article.)

    I also admit that I was reading his advice as also saying what JR Tomlin is saying — use your keywords to fine tune your categories. But you’ve got seven keywords, which are much more than you need to identify the proper category.

    And yes, even when you don’t end up in the sub-category that only Amazon can put you in…. if you have that category in the keywords, you do come up in search on it, when you don’t otherwise.

    Once upon a time — long long long ago — search engines actually used metadata keywords as the prime way to identify something for search. Those days are long gone because it was so easy to cheat that way. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t used at all for search. It just means that they are judged by context, like everything else.

    And for fiction, they can be particularly important.

    BTW: if Barbara is correct about samples (and I certainly think she is) it’s another reason for authors to put a short blurb/description of the book in the front matter. It could help the algorithms identify the relevance in search.

    • Okay, I’ve looked at the article now…. I’m not sure what JR is objecting to. He’s referring us to Amazon’s actual recommendations for appropriate keywords for those categories.

      Is it that he tells people to check the popularity of the words and change it to suit how people search? He didn’t say to do that with Amazon’s recommended words, just the ones you come up with on your own.

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