Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marketing Your Book - Keyword Searches and Amazon's Auto-populate Feature

Amazon is the 900 pound gorilla in the retail book industry. There is nothing you can do as an individual to sell as many books as Amazon can sell for you. For self-published authors, Amazon is the best venue to reach as many potential customers as possible.

To say it is critical for a book to show up in the first page of Amazon search results to maximize sale potential is not an exaggeration. Countless authors have tried to "game" the Amazon search engines through a wide variety of methods, many of which Amazon considers to be "black hat" techniques. 

If Amazon deems an author has used a black hat approach, it will penalize the author and the book and the results are not pleasant.

Using keywords though is an approach Amazon not only approves of, but when an author is going through the process of uploading their book files via either Amazon owned CreateSpace or Amazon's KDP Kindle platform, Amazon will allow an author to provide up to seven keywords in the book's metadata.

These seven keywords, when combined with a well worded title and the correct choice of categories for the book, can do wonders for a books search results.

It is worth noting, Amazon is beginning to crack down on the words inserted in book titles. Why? Here is the information Amazon provides during the process of uploading a book for sale on the Kindle platform. It is straightforward.






Some authors evidently have been adding words to a books title in an effort to add additional keywords and enhance the book's chances of rising higher in the search results.

Since Amazon only allows seven keywords and two categories per title and both are critical in producing the best possible search results, just how can an author determine what are the best possible choices?

First, search for as many books as possible that are similar to your book. See how these books rank in the search results. Check which categories these books are listed in. There are lots of factors in making a final choice concerning category selection, but this is a good start. In some instances, it is better to list a book in a category that receives fewer results but has significantly less competition.

Determining keywords for your book on Amazon is a bit different than searching for keywords to promote a website. There are no keyword search tools as such for Amazon.

Don't worry, Amazon provides just such a tool, albeit one probably not designed for the purpose of providing optimal keywords for a book.

When doing your own search for books similar to your own, take note of the words that appear in Amazon's search box as you type in words for your search. I have been reading an entertaining series of thrillers set in the 1880s and 1890s by Kim Wright. The stories include actual historical events and figures and are both informative and entertaining. 

The current novel I am reading in the series is City of Silence, set in St. Petersburg, Russia. Here is the search result Amazon's auto-populate feature produced when I typed in Russian.


Amazon will provide you with ideas for keywords for your book. You simply need to take the time to work you way through a variety of searches for books similar to your own and make lists of keywords suggested by Amazon's auto-populate feature. Track which words produce the best results in producing the highest search results for the books you are researching. Narrow the list to the best seven words and you'll have a good starting point for your seven keywords when uploading your book's files.

If you have yet to determine a subtitle for your book, it is a good idea to do this research prior to the creation of the interior and cover files you will upload to Amazon for the book. This will allow a white hat approach for you to include one or two essential keywords in your books title and subtitle and avoid the displeasure of Amazon.