Tag Archives: keywords

Using Amazon Keywords the Right Way

22 Jan

Today’s blog is brought to you by Editor Ed, a small-press publisher, editor, writer, and a good friend.

As an indie self-publisher, I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t understand how to use Amazon Keywords correctly for years.  I’ve only recently begun learning how to use them properly, but I’m already seeing results.  It’s not a magic bullet for more sales by any means, but it does seem to help, at least a little.  And all it takes a little time and effort.

Now, I’m NOT an expert on Amazon keywords, which is a huge and complicated topic.  There are ntire books, blogs, and YouTube videos about them.  But hopefully I can offer a few tips and point you in the right direction to learn more.  And, since this is Marcus’ blog, I’ll use his recent-released book Drag’n Drop as an example.

FIRST: An Amazon keyword is not just one word!  Seriously, I’ve seen experienced publishers make this mistake. You have 50 characters to play with, including spaces.  In fact, the most effective keywords area usually phrases, not words.

SECOND: Keywords aren’t descriptors, they’re search terms.  Therefore, it’s best to use keywords that people actually type into Amazon searches.  But how do you know what people type into the Amazon search bar?  Actually, that’s fairly easy: type a word or two in there yourself, let the auto-complete kick in, and see what comes up.

Next, do a search on some of these terms that describe your book, and see how many results come up (be sure to select the category “Books” or “Kindle Store”, or you’ll get a LOT of irrelevant results).  For example, Marcus’ Drag’n Drop is a fantasy novel, so let’s try searching “fantasy.”  Whoa.  Over 50,000 results.  That’s a LOT of competitors!  That’s where the next tip comes in…

THIRD: Be specific! The more specific you are, the less competition you’ll have for each sale.  For example, Drag’n Drop is not just Fantasy (a very broad category), but specifically an Urban Fantasy—so let’s try searching that.  Hmm… over 30,000 results.  An improvement, but still a LOT of competitors.  But now I’m remembering Marcus describes Drag’n Drop as an “alternate history urban fantasy”… so let’s try that!  Whew, only 2000 results!  Now we’re talking!

“But Ed!” I hear you cry. “Why would I want fewer searches to find my book!?”  Well, just because your book comes up in a search doesn’t mean the customer will actually see it.  The unpleasant truth is that if a first-time self-published author’s book is included with 50,000 other search results, it’ll probably be somewhere around 49,990 on that list. At sixteen results per page, a customer will have to click through 3,125 pages before they get to that book, and the chances of that happening are… well, I hate to say impossible, but… yeah, it’s pretty much impossible.

On the other hand, if you only have to compete with 2000 other search results to get your book in front of a customer who’s specifically looking for that type of book, the chances of your book being seen (and purchased!) are a lot better.

For example, I recently released the sword-and-sorcery anthology Sorcery Against Caesar.  Unfortunately, 50,000 results came up for the search term “sword and sorcery,” pretty much guaranteeing the book would rarely be seen by customers.  However, when I switched the keyword to “sword and sandal” (a sub-genre of historical sword-and-sorcery in the ancient Greco-Roman world), I only had 130 competitors—and now my book is on the first page of results for that search term, and sales have been better than I expected!

Keep in mind that all this work and experimentation merely identified one good keyword—and you’ve got six more to go!  As you can guess, finding seven good keywords can take time and effort.  Is it worth it?  That depends.  Your mileage may vary.  But I’d argue it never hurts to try.

Have any blog readers out there had any personal experiences (good or bad) with tinkering with their book’s Amazon keywords? Let me know in the comments below!

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