by Aleksandar Ljubinkovic
Writing a book is no small feat. If you’re writing fiction, you spend weeks and months crafting your story arc, fleshing out the motivations of characters, and trying to create a piece of art that will leave readers satisfied, yet also wanting so much more.
Nonfiction isn’t any easier. You have something you’re passionate about, and you’re trying to take everything you know and put it in writing. It can feel like trying to capture the wind.
But even when your book is done, your work isn’t. Unless you’re J.D. Salinger, you want people to actually read what you’ve created. You want to connect with a passionate audience who is going to fall in love with your work of art. You need to get your book in front of people.
And that’s where the rub happens.
Finding your audience isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a newer author without much of a platform.
You could hire a PR firm to help you spread the word, but if you’re like most indie authors, your budget isn’t very big…if you even have a budget.
Thankfully, there are other solutions.
In fact, there is one particularly powerful tool that most indie authors don’t even think about: the Amazon search engine.
If you think about it, Amazon is actually one, giant search engine. There are hundreds of thousands of products listed, and the way most people find them is through typing into the search bar.
If you can get your book to show up on the first page of specific Amazon searches, you suddenly have access to a massive audience.
But how do you do that? It’s not about hacks or somehow “tricking” the Amazon algorithm. It’s about knowing what the Amazon search algorithm looks for and then giving it to them.
That’s what you’re about to learn.
If you can get your book to show up on the first page of specific Amazon searches, you suddenly have access to a massive audience. Learn how!Click To Tweet
Step #1: Choose Your Keywords Carefully
Like Google, Amazon heavily relies on keywords to determine what your book is about and where it should show up in searches. When you publish on Amazon, there are numerous places to include specific keywords, and you’re going to take advantage of every one of them.
But you can’t just include any keywords.
In order to show up high in searches, you need to identify keywords that are related to your book AND that are regularly searched.
How do you do that?
There are several relatively easy ways.
The first is to go into the Kindle Store in incognito mode and type a partial search related to your book.
You need to use incognito mode in the Chrome browser so that Amazon doesn’t use any of your prior searches to make suggestions. If you do it in regular mode, Amazon will populate the search bar based on your prior activity.
For example, if your book is about productivity, you could simply type, “Productivity…” and look at the results populating the search bar.
Once you type the partial search in, Amazon will offer suggestions to finish the search. All these suggestions represent potential keywords for your book. Write them down for future reference.
But here’s the thing. You still don’t know how many people are searching for any of these terms. You need to go one step further and determine which terms are getting a significant volume of searches.
That’s where Google Keyword Planner comes in. This free tool allows you to see how often people search particular terms on Google and how difficult it is to rank high in those searches.
Yes, Google and Amazon are totally different search engines. That being said, if something is getting lots of searches on Google, you can be sure it’s also getting a lot on Amazon.
When you type “productivity tips” into Keyword Planner, you’re given a large list of related keywords, how many searches per month the keyword gets, and the competition for that keyword.
Low competition means that there aren’t millions of people trying to rank for that same keyword.
This information is key. You now have keywords that are related to your book, get some amount of searches, and aren’t ridiculously hard to rank for in searches.
Use keywords with high traffic and low competition to drive your book to Amazon bestseller status. Click To Tweet
Step #2: Optimize Your Book Listing With Keywords
Now you’re going to take the keywords that you’ve identified from Amazon and Google and skillfully weave those into your book listing. Note that I’ve said, “Skillfully.” You’re not going to stuff keywords into every nook and cranny of your listing. You’re going to do it naturally, working with what Amazon already gives you.
There are numerous places you can do this.
The Designated Keyword Section
On the Amazon KDP dashboard, you can put seven keywords to describe your book. This is where you should put your most important keywords – the ones that describe your book and have the most search volume with the least competition.
You might think that you should include your name as one of the keywords, but that’s probably not necessary since your name will also be in the author section. Rather, use this space to focus on the words that people who don’t know you will be searching for.
Your Title and Subtitle
This is where you need to get a little creative, especially if your book is fiction. If your book is nonfiction, you should include at least one of your primary keywords directly in your title, and then a few more in your subtitle.
If your book is fiction, you’ll need to get creative about how to do this. You’ll obviously want to include the actual title of your book, but then you’ll want to add in keyword descriptors after the title and subtitle.
Here’s how one author made it work.
Yes, this can make the listing feel a bit clunky, but it can also drive a significant amount of search traffic to your book. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide how many keywords you want to stick in your title and subtitle.
You want to strike a balance between the bad practice of keyword stuffing, where you cram as many keywords as possible into the title, and not using any keywords at all.
You should also skillfully weave your keywords into the description of your book. For example, if your book is in the suspense genre, you could say, “Following in the footsteps of suspense masters like Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton…” This increases the chances of you showing up in searches related to those three authors.
If your book on productivity is also geared specifically for moms, you could write, “If you want to be a more productive mom, this book is for you.”
The point is to include keywords naturally in your description that also do a good job of selling the book.
Don't stuff your book listing with keywords. Include keywords naturally in your description that do a good job of selling the book.Click To Tweet
Step #3: Make Sure Your Book Looks Great
The final step is an obvious one, but it needs to be stated. If your book doesn’t look good, people won’t click on it or buy it. If no one clicks on your book when they see it in a search, Amazon will conclude that it’s irrelevant to them and drop it lower in the search rankings. You want to have as high a click-through-rate (CTR) as possible.
This means you should have a fantastic, professional looking cover. Don’t settle for something you slapped together in five minutes on your iPhone. Either hire a professional to do it or use a tool like Canva to create a beautiful book cover.
Your description should include the right keywords AND be so compelling that people actually want to buy the book. Don’t be sloppy or hasty with your description. Craft it with sales in mind. Would someone reading the description feel like they can’t wait to buy your book and dive in?
You also want to get as many verified reviews as you can on your book. Verified reviews means that someone actually purchased your book and then took the time to write a review.
Finally, your book should be well proofed, meaning there’s few or no grammatical or spelling errors. Amazon cares about this because they want to ensure that buyers get a good product, not a book riddled with poor grammar. If you want your book to show up high in searches, make sure you take the time to proof your book.
I realize that this may all seem pretty technical. After all, you’re an author and you focus on writing, not search optimization. I certainly understand that.
However, if you’re willing to spend just a little bit of time doing some keyword research and optimizing your listing, you can significantly increase the odds of your book showing up in a search.
Whether for good or bad, this is what it means to be an indie author. You don’t have your own marketing team and must be willing to put in the time and effort to market yourself.
The amount of time you spend doing that can be the difference when it comes to sales.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
About the Author: This post was written by Skubana. Skubana is an all in one solution that unifies operations for online merchants after the checkout. Skubana automates everything from order management, order fulfillment, inventory management and purchase order management.