I recently heard the author Nick Stephenson say that to be successful as an author you had to think of Amazon is a search engine and not a book retailer. It was light bulb moment. To ensure being found by readers, you have to optimize your book’s search engine metadata—the keywords (and categories) associated with your book. Keywords are the words or phrases you use to target your books to customers. (You select these in Step 3 when publishing a book to Amazon). To increase your odds for Amazon to list your book in the top 20 (the first page) in a keyword search (the words a reader uses to find a book), you need to use words associated with your book that will trigger the search engine.
According to Nick Stephenson, for the greatest success, you should try to incorporate these keywords in your title. Once you pick your genre and category, search the top 100 book titles to find the keywords that are relevant to your book, and then use them in the title and book descriptions.
The proposed title for my upcoming book was A Peek at the Remarkable Camino de Santiago. I had already uploaded a cover with that title to Amazon. But then, while doing the keyword search, I realized the title was too vague; it did not tell the reader what to expect. I needed to find words that described the book and give me an edge in an Amazon search.
Though I could have done a keyword search manually, I used the Amazon keyword search tool, Kindlespy, to quickly find the keywords in the categories that I had selected. I was hoping to use “photo essay,” “photo book,” or “picture book” (which was my first choice), but, these words did not appear in the titles used by the top 100 books in my chosen categories. Since they were not relevant, I continued searching.
I added the subtitle, A Photo Journey. With more than 130 photographs, this revised title more accurately sets the reader’s expectations, and the four keywords Camino, Camino de Santiago, photo, and journey differentiate it from other books in that category.
Since Amazon allows seven keywords, I compared the top 100 titles from the two categories in which I list my book and choose three more: travel, Spain, and best. As an afterthought, I should have incorporate those words into the title, but I had already requested an update from my graphic designer.
Once I had chosen the keywords for my new book, I revisited those of my published books. I was surprised to find that two keywords that I was using for three of my books—pilgrim and pilgrimage—were not relevant. As a result, I picked new keywords and revised my descriptions to include the new words.
By optimizing my seven keyword phases, I hope to better position my books when a reader searches Amazon for something to read. I want my book to show up in the top twenty in the search results. I will continue to monitor the keywords to ensure they remain relevant.
Have you checked your keywords recently? It’s easy to do. Just type them into the Kindle Store search bar. If you are unhappy with the results, consider changing the keywords (or the category); it might improve your sales. At least, that is my hope.
Have you changed your keywords? Did the change improve your sales? Please comment.