Did you know that over 80 percent of books are bought online? While bookstores still play a vital role in the book buying industry, Amazon has ultimately changed the game and made book buying more convenient and easier than ever. 

And, thanks to print-on-demand technology, they’ve also made writing and publishing a book more convenient and easier than ever before. Which means there are literally hundreds of new books being published every week, making it more challenging for people to find your book. 

Challenging, but not impossible. 

Amazon has given you some tools to use to help increase your book’s visibility, and one of these tools is keywords. 

With the exception of Google and Youtube, Amazon’s search engine is the largest in the world. And, it operates much the same way. In other words people are searching for books on Amazon the same way they are searching for answers to their questions on Google. So how does that help you pick the right keywords for your book?

Potential readers likely aren’t going to be searching for your book title or even your author name (because let’s face it, indie authors don’t have a ton of name recognition). Instead they are going to be searching for specific phrases– also known as keywords. If you’ve incorporated some of those keywords and search terms into strategic places within your book product listing you just might pop up in their search feed and have a better chance of selling a book.

Before I go on, I want to be clear that Amazon keywords are a great tool that can potentially increase your book’s visibility, but they are far less important than things like having a quality book cover, writing a catchy book description, or investing in a professionally-formatted and edited book. All the keyword research in the world can’t help a poorly-designed book, and if your goal is to sell more books you will need a well-vetted book marketing strategy.

How to Pick Amazon Keywords

When you upload a book to Amazon KDP you can pick seven 50-character keywords to embed in your book’s metadata (more on that below). 

Determining your list of seven keywords of key phrases requires thinking strategically about what search terms a reader might be using that should ultimately lead them to your book. Instead of just adding generic words like “philosophy book” or “Fantasy novel” try to be as specific as possible within your character limit. 

Think about using your keywords as a way to paint a detailed picture about what your book is about.

Consider things like:

  • Genre: While similar, genre is not the same as your book category. In other words, if your novel is sci-fi, you can add that as a book category, but is it a good versus evil book, overcoming all odds, or tug-at-the-heart-strings kind of story? 
  • Place setting: Does your book have a specific place setting that is important to the storyline? Is it set in a small town, the wild west, or outer space? Consider adding your place setting to your keywords. 
  • Literary Tropes: Is your book a coming-of-age story, a holiday romance, a cozy mystery, or a reluctant hero story? There are tropes for nearly every genre and literary type and readers who know what they like to read will use these tropes looking for their next story. 
  • Characters: If your book is character driven, how would you describe the characters? Is it an unlikely hero, a strong female lead, or a government spy with a checkered past? 
  • Questions: For non fiction books, it might be more like asking the question that you have the answer to. For example ‘how to self-publish a book’ or ‘how to sell more books online.’ Think about what questions your reader might type into Amazon to find a specific answer.

Where to Use Book Keywords

Once you have your list of keywords it’s time to start plugging them into different places to maximize your search results. 

Your Amazon Metadata

We already mentioned this one, but when you upload your book to Amazon KDP you get to add seven keywords or phrases to the book. Each keyword has a 50 character limit. If you are publishing multiple versions of your book it is a good idea to keep the keywords consistent across all formats

Metadata Keyword Don’ts

  1. Don’t include your book category. You did that already when you selected your book category
  2. Don’t include other author’s names or titles of other well-known books. Amazon will either send you an email rejecting your keyword and requesting that you delete it, or they will just blacklist it and you are wasting that space
  3. Don’t include punctuation in your keywords
  4. Don’t include phrases like “best seller” or “for a limited time” You can add those in your book description 

Your Book Description

Your book description is another place where you can strategically place keywords, and with a little more possibilities than in the KDP metadata. Here, you can use things like “#1 Amazon Best Selling Author” or the names of other authors and book titles to describe your book and influence a reader to purchase it. 

You can even add keywords to your book title or subtitle – just be aware that once your book is published you cannot change your title or subtitle so use keywords sparingly. 

Amazon A+ Content

Another often overlooked way to add keywords to your book listing is by creating and uploading Amazon A+ Content. Now, like your meta data keywords there are lots of regulations for what can be included in Amazon A+ Content, but the reason every author should be using it is that when you upload your content you can add keywords and alt descriptions to the images – essentially giving your book more than the official 7 keywords. 

It’s worth noting these supplemental keywords don’t rank as heavy as your official keywords, but they do work in terms of altering your book’s search rankings. 

Taking some time to come up with a list of keywords and search terms for your book is an important piece of the self-publishing process. However, to sell more books will require a multi-faceted marketing approach that goes above and beyond keyword research. 

If you still need help picking Amazon keywords for your book, reach out to Joel Pitney for a free consultation on how to make your book a success. And be sure to check out our other marketing ideas for first-time authors.

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