For many indie authors, understanding Amazon can be overwhelming at times, which is why I’ve made it my mission to help you use Amazon to your best advantage, to boost visibility and sell books! In part one of this series, we discussed how you can optimize your Amazon book page through the use of “categories.” If you missed that, you can catch up here.
In part two of this series, we’ll be discussing “themes,” Amazon’s niche categories, and “keywords.”
Understanding Amazon Themes and Keywords
Let’s start with “themes,” Amazon’s niche categories: If you click on any genre fiction area you’ll notice “Themes” down the left-hand side—for this next example, I’m going to focus on Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense. “Themes” are actually niche categories that Amazon has assessed are popular within your genre. Finding the themes that correspond with your book help you dig deeper into a particular category and select the most specific category possible.When selecting a theme, take a look at the number of books in each sub-category. A category with a high number of books indicates a high level of competition within that theme. You are trying to find the most specific category, with small level of competition. The narrower the category, the easier it can be for a book’s sales to cause it to zip up that category’s list, which can help to trigger Amazon’s internal algorithm and help with that book’s overall visibility.
Along with categories, Amazon will also allow you to choose keywords for your Kindle books. When selecting keywords, my first suggestion is to avoid using a single keyword. We don’t search Google or Amazon with a single keyword, but rather specific keyword strings/phrases to find the books we want to read.
Also check potential keyword strings against sales ranks on Amazon. For example, let’s say you’ve written a mystery and when you pop onto Amazon you see that within the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense markets there are four subcategories (see graphic below). You click “Suspense” because it best fits your book’s genre. When you do, you see narrowed categories (e.g. ghosts, occult, etc.…).
Once you click one of those sub-sub categories you’re about as far down the category rabbit hole as you can go. Now you can start doing keyword research.
Using Amazon’s search bar, type in your genre–let’s use “suspense”–then include the word “and.” Doing that will bring up some suggestions from Amazon, as shown in the screenshot below. This might give you a clue as to what people are searching for and how you might tap into that demand and refine your keywords.
But wait! Before you make that change, you’ll need to click on the keyword string to see how well these books are doing.
Research and Refine Your Themes and Keywords
Let’s try another example and illustrate the point.
Say you have a mystery series. You type in “mystery series” and when you do this, you’ll see one of the suggestions is “cozy mystery series.”
Now, knowing the popularity of cozy mystery series, you can click on that to see what comes up, and then check the rankings on the top offerings. Check out the screenshot below:
In this particular case, the sales rankings are high (#2). (The lower the sales rank, the better! You are aiming for #1, after all.) That likely does not bode well for that keyword string, so don’t use it.
Another strategy for finding keywords is to use Ubersuggest.org. This is a site that scrapes Google every day for the things consumers are searching for. It shows you what searches are popular and gives you some new ideas for possibilities within your market. But remember to check any keyword strings you find against an Amazon sales rank.
While you’re doing this research, how many keyword strings should you find? The KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) dashboard allows you to use seven, but I would recommend you generate 15. You can use keywords in your subtitle, and book description. You may also find that some keyword strings are not getting you the attention you’d like. This way you will have enough strings to swap them out and experiment.
Combined with your knowledge of Amazon’s categories and themes, by researching keyword strings and checking them against Amazon rankings, you can generate and refine the best keywords to boost your book’s visibility on Amazon and sell more books!
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