Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, seems alive and well at least when it comes to maximizing your book listing for the Amazon search engine. I thought I’d share how I achieved an astonishing 92% improvement in one week’s time.
Most people think of SEO as something you do to your website pages so that they show up “high” in Google search results when people search for words and phrases that describe your business. It’s the dream of every business owner to be in the first 10 listings on Google when someone searches for their business. While frequent updates to the Google algorithm have reduced the value of traditional SEO for websites, the basic concepts behind SEO still apply to any search engine, most certainly Amazon’s book search engine.
My experiment suggests it is possible to improve the visibility of your book’s listing by following traditional SEO best practices. In just one week’s time my Amazon Best Sellers Rank improved from 540,557 to 45,781 with nothing more than changes to my keywords and book’s description. I did not change the price or book cover.
December 12, 2013
December 20, 2013 (the title reached ~72,000 on 12/17 in just 5 days)
What follows is a brief recap of the steps I took. You’ll notice that I skip over some details—like how to apply HTML tags and good copyrighting techniques—because it’s just too involved for this post. I may cover these in more detail next year but in the meantime you can contact me about SEO for books marketing support and training. You can also visit my book’s page here as you read the following.
Also note that you must have a KDP account to do this. (See below for related posts.)
SEO begins with selecting the right keywords
Basically you want to use the words that your audience uses to find books like yours. It begins with common sense and requires more sleuthing on Amazon than it does on Google. Start by making a list of words you think people use. Then start entering those words and variations of those words in the Amazon search box for Kindle eBooks. As you type, the Amazon search engine will auto-complete your search string giving you ideas for the phrases you’ll want to consider for your description and keyword fields.
I also often use Google’s excellent free Keyword Tool but you need to register to use it and it might require more time than you are willing to invest. It is the best way to find new search terms as long as you keep in mind that the terms people search for on Google may not be the same as those people use on Amazon.
Step two is the art of incorporating keywords with good copyrighting
Now you want to use these words as naturally as possible to describe your book. The idea is to hook your reader with a good headline and hold them until the very end of the description using bullets and bold and italic text. Then ask them to buy your book!
Ideally you want to use HTML tags to format your description. Search engines consider elements such as headings, bold and italic formatting as important and weight them appropriately. Read this Amazon page for more details about what codes are supported. Again, see my book’s eBook page for an example.
Update the keywords field in KDP
KDP allows 7 keywords separated by commas. Select what you consider to be the top words or phrases and enter them here. Read the article on keywords (below) for more information.
The main point to keep in mind is that it is possible to influence your book’s ranking. It may take a little experimentation and effort, but it can be done.