When you upload your book to online retailers and distributors like Amazon, Smashwords, and IngramSpark, you'll need to decide what categories your book belongs in and insert information (metadata) such as your book description, author bio, BISAC codes, and keywords. But don't wait until you're ready to upload your book to figure this out. Below you'll find a list of some of my favorite keyword tools.
Keywords: Your Number One Most Important Marketing Effort
All of your book marketing copy needs to contain the keywords and phrases you carefully and deliberately choose so that the search engines can deliver readers to your book sales page. So start with keywords, then move on to your book description and other marketing copy.
How to Research Keywords
You're going to need a final list of between ten to twenty keywords (or phrases) with a 900-character maximum, and keep the number of repeated keywords to a maximum of three. How do you start deciding on your keywords and phrases? Many people work best by jotting ideas down on paper rather than on the computer. Get messy and cast a wide net. Then start narrowing them down by using these keyword tools.
1. Amazon Advanced Search
I like Amazon Advanced Search as a place to start getting to know where your book fits in the various categories, and to see what other authors in your genre are doing to get attention. This is called competitive research and it's an essential marketing step to make sure your cover, title, and subtitle fit in with what readers expect, yet stand out from the competition.
For keyword research purposes, use Amazon Advanced Search to find books like yours and see what categories they're in, how their book descriptions and author bios are structured, and what words and phrases are commonly used.
2. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a research tool used to figure out the popularity of keywords and phrases. You’ll need a Google account to use it.
Start by searching words or phrases related to your book. You’ll see how often keywords are searched and how their search volume changes over time. You’ll probably want to choose low- to medium-competition keywords. Narrower is better because your book may get lost in a high-competition search term.
3. HTML Source Code
Look at the source code of successful authors in your niche. Navigate to any website and, from your browser's toolbar, choose View > Developer > View Source. Keywords will appear at the top of the gobbledy-gook code in the META NAME="Keywords" tag, as shown below.
I've found that lots of really popular, bestselling authors don't bother with metadata on their websites because they're so well known. So look for successful mid-list authors and analyze their sites.
4. Google Analytics
When you use Google Analytics you can see where visitors came from—a Facebook ad, a blog post, an interview, a random Google search. Analytics is key to knowing how your audience finds you, so install it and monitor it. Take a look at the most popular blog posts and pages to see what keywords and phrases are bringing your audience there. You can also analyze your market by age, gender, geo, interests, and the technology they use.
5. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads is a cheap, easy (and dare I say, one of the fun keyword tools), way to experiment with keywords because you can target a very narrow interest group. Spend fifteen or twenty bucks to drive your audience to blog posts or stories on your website and run two or three different ads with different keywords. Track performance using Ads Manager to see if one version of your ad is working better than another.
6. Kindle Samurai
Kindle Samurai is a Windows program that eases the keyword-choosing phase of your marketing efforts by automating your research of relevant high-traffic, low-competition keywords. It seems to be permanently on sale for 50% off, at $19.90. I know a couple of small presses who use and love this tool, but I can't use it because I'm a Mac user.
7. Kindle Spy
Kindle Spy is a browser extension that helps you figure out what Amazon Kindle categories you should choose for your book. See what books like yours are using and what categories are too popular to compete in (saturated with so many books that yours will get lost). This product also seems to be on permanent sale for $47 with free lifetime updates. I use this tool and find it very useful.
Keyword Tools Cheat Sheet
I use this cheat-sheet to help authors develop good keywords and metadata as a part of completing their publishing plan. Download it HERE and fill in the information for your book.
More on Metadata
Mastering Metadata: The Key to Marketing Your Books: Carla King for BookWorks
Metadata Part Two: BISAC Codes and Keywords: Robin Cutler for BookWorks
The Basics of Book Metadata and Keywords: Carla King for IngramSpark
Book Discoverability Guide: Carla King for IngramSpark
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