How To Use Keyword Research To Sell More Books

From Indie Reader:

To get your book noticed by potential shoppers, you have to learn what kind of phrases customers search for on Amazon when they’re shopping.

Luckily, there are easy ways to get this data. In their search box, Amazon has created a function that guesses what you’re typing; their suggestion is based on the popularity of what other shoppers type when they shop–the autofill function.

Today, we’ll look at how you can use this free feature and a few free tools–along with a trusty notepad and pen–to gather your keywords and, ultimately, promote and sell more books.

. . . .

Part One: Find Your Keywords

Prepare Your Browser

The first step is a short and very important one. I made this its own step to ensure you wouldn’t miss it. 

When you go to do keyword research, you need to put your browser on incognito mode, or private mode, depending on what browser you use. Here is a quick video on how to set your browser to private mode. 

We use incognito mode because, on your regular browser, your search history is used to match your search results to your needs. That’s great for everyday use, but when doing keyword research, you want the results to be as objective as possible. 

[PG Note: If you search on the Google Chrome Web Store, you’ll find some Chrome extensions that allow you to go into incognito mode with a mouse-click.]

Visit Amazon and Start Searching

Before you start typing anything into the search bar, make sure that you’ve selected the ‘Kindle Store’ from the list of browsing categories in the drop down menu on the search bar. Or, if you’re looking for hard copies, you’d select ‘Books.’ That way, you’ll know that any result that comes up is relevant to books and not other products on Amazon.

Now, get out your notepad and pen. 

Start typing phrases into the Amazon search bar that are related to your genre and to your book. Note down what Amazon instantly pre-populates in the search box. The goal in this step is to narrow your search down to specific examples. So, rather than generic phrases like ‘how to write’ or even ‘how to write a book,’ you’ll want highly targeted phrases like, ‘how to write a horror novel’ or ‘how to write a good business book.’ Write down all the potential keywords that suit your book. 

You can add a single letter to the end of each phrase and note the auto-fill results, as well. For example, ‘how to write an a,’ ‘how to write a b,’ ‘how to write a c,’ and so on.

. . . .

I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what Amazon gives you as a suggestion. Keep in mind, it’s important that you don’t choose keywords that violate any of Amazon’s Keyword requirements (it’s under the “Keywords to Avoid” section). 

. . . .

Part Two: Honing Your Search

Now that you’ve got your keywords, let’s zero in on which of those keywords are selling books. There could be popular searches that won’t bring as many sales as you’d like. 

To discover which keywords are ‘buyer’ keywords, search for that phrase on Amazon–again, using incognito mode–and open the top three results. From there, you’ll need the book’s ABSR–the Amazon Best Seller Rank. Basically, the ABSR is a store-wide ranking that updates hourly. It takes into account the amount of sales and borrows that a book has had in the past day and the current one. The better the rank, the more books it has sold. 

To figure out how many copies of a book have been sold, you can use my free Kindle Calculator. All you need to do is copy and paste the ABSR into the calculator and it’ll do the rest. 

For example, if the book has an ABSR of 23452, it’s sold approximately 12 copies per day. If it’s in Kindle Unlimited, this number counts the borrows, as well.  

Calculate the average number of books sold for the top three results for your keyword. You’ll want a keyword that is selling something, but that isn’t too competitive. If you happen upon a keyword that’s hardly selling any books, one of two things is happening:

  1. Not many people are looking for that keyword.
  2. All the book results for that keyword aren’t relevant, so searchers aren’t buying the books because they don’t match expectations. You can use your judgment to decide if this is the case or not (more on that in the next step). 

Do this same process for all of your keywords. It will take time, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Link to the rest at Indie Reader

About 15 years ago, PG got tagged with marketing in addition to legal duties in a tech startup and got into Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a cheap way of drawing prospective purchasers of the company’s products to the company’s website.

The principles for Google were about the same as Amazon SEO for books, but with Google, you could construct different web pages to optimize for different search terms instead of being limited to an Amazon book product page. The Google search engine was capable of very precise targeting as well, more so than Amazon’s (in PG’s experience).

If you want to take a quick look at the current state of Google SEO, here’s a link to a Beginner’s Guide to give you an idea of its complexity and sophistication.

While the large majority of those searching for a book on Amazon search using Amazon’s built-in search function, Amazon permits Google to crawl its book listings as well, so a search on Google can pull up a product on Amazon. For example, searching for “Hercule Poirot books” on Google will include a link to those books on Amazon a few spaces down from the top.

PG has not thought through the implications of a Google/Amazon SEO or paid search strategy, however. If any visitors to TPV have knowledge of anyone who has, PG would appreciate a link in the comments.

2 thoughts on “How To Use Keyword Research To Sell More Books”

  1. The OP is by Kindlepreneur founder Dave Chesson. His free calculator is pretty cool and so is his paid keyword ‘Publisher Rocket’ that does a lot of the legwork for a modest one-time fee ($80 or so bucks as I recall). I bought Rocket a year or two ago and have been using it as I start to cross over genres for my Indie books. Dave is a good guy and answers emails and provides regular free updates to Rocket all the time.
    (Note that I have no business relationship with Dave other than being a satisfied customer and user of his free and paid products and services. Just sayin’.)

  2. Note: On Firefox, the “incognito mode” is built in, no extension needed. (Ctrl-Shift-P in Windows, or “New Private Window” from the drop-down menu.

    I think that Edge probably has the same thing, although I haven’t used a Microsoft browser in years.

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