More visibility + Right audience = Increased book sales. And keywords are the secret ingredient!
Whether you're a first-time publisher or you've already got a dozen books bringing in monthly royalties, you can't scale a publishing business without keywords. Just like Google, Amazon's search engine uses these words to determine which books to prioritize on their results page.
Play your keyword cards right, and your books will rank on the very first page...play them wrong, and your books might get lost forever beyond page 20.
By the end of this blog article, you'll know exactly how to find the right Kindle keywords for your book to improve your seller rank and help readers find your work. We'll also let you in on some secrets about crafting the perfect title with our top keyword research tools.
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Keywords are exactly what they sound like—Words that unlock greater visibility for your books! Think about it this way. When you're working with limited real estate, like in your title and book description, every single word counts. If you wrote a book all about how to garden on a budget, your title and book description probably won't mention other irrelevant words like "dragon" or "yoga," but you might mention your audience.
Pop Quiz! Which title is better?
A) "How to Garden on a Budget: A Millennial's Guide to Perfect Backyard Vegetables"
B) "Cheap Gardening"
If you answered "A," give yourself a pat on the back. It's way more specific and uses keyword phrases that people might actually search for, like "How to Garden," "Garden on a Budget," and "Millennial's Guide."
So, now you know what they are, but how important are they really? And how do you even choose keywords when there are thousands of other books on the market?
Here's your Keyword Bootcamp 101:
If you like making book sales, keywords are incredibly important when you're publishing on Amazon because they'll be used in your book sales page as well as your Amazon ads.
Pro Tip: Spelling matters!
We got a question on one of our live coaching calls recently. Does it matter if I use the money symbol ($) instead of an "S" in my book about finances? The answer is YES! Most people browsing the Kindle store aren't going to type in "Money Hack$" into the search bar, but they might type "Money Hacks" instead. And there's a way to figure out exactly what your audience is searching for. Keep reading!
Amazon's algorithm prioritizes relevance and customer behavior when determining which books to display in search results. And from a reader's perspective, this makes sense. If you're looking for help training a new puppy, a children's book about cats won't do you any good.
To rank well, your book's title, subtitle, and metadata need to contain specific keywords that accurately reflect the content. These keywords should align with the terms potential readers are using to search for their next read.
Ideally, you'd do all your keyword research BEFORE completing your book manuscript so you don't waste time working on a book that's not going to be profitable. But we all make mistakes on our self-publishing journeys, and it's never too late to course correct for your next book.
Alright, let's jump into the meat and potatoes and why you're really here. To find keywords and boost your best seller rank.
Here's the rundown for finding the best Amazon keywords:
There's nothing wrong with starting with a gut feeling or following your intuition as long as you find the research to back it up. Try to jot down a list of 10-20 short phrases you think people search for related to your broad topic. You'll want a mix of general and specific search terms.
Let's go back to our earlier example for the book "How to Garden on a Budget: A Millennial's Guide to Perfect Backyard Vegetables." Let's say we didn't have this title crafted yet. A solid brainstorm list might include some of these words:
At this stage, there are no right or wrong answers because you're just trying to get your ideas down on paper. Eventually, we'll curate the list and narrow it down, but we can't do that until we have a list of ideas to work with in the first place.
Amazon's search bar is an underrated tool for keyword research. As you type, it will suggest popular search terms that are frequently used by readers. These suggestions are based on real search volume data, and their algorithm is constantly changing to reflect what they think customers want the most. Make a list of these suggestions and add it to your initial brainstorm list!
Here's what currently pops up when you type "Garden" into the Amazon search bar:
Notice how you get completely different suggestions when you type in "Gardening" instead:
You can do the same exact thing with other search engines like Google and Bing to build up your brainstorming list. You can also use Google's "People also ask" and "Related searches" sections to find variations of your initial keywords. These sections provide insight into broader search patterns that can be applied to your Kindle keyword strategy.
Here's an example:
Once you've got a solid brainstorming list, it's time to start gathering the data. What keyword phrase are people actually searching for? How many people are typing in this search phrase?
At this stage in the game, you'll need a tool like KDSpy to see the exact numbers for the top keywords that your competitors are using. Start by plugging in each phrase from your list to see what kinds of books pop up. Pay attention to titles and subtitles that appear frequently and the keywords they incorporate. You can also take notes on their customer reviews and what readers liked (or didn't like) about these books.
Pro Tip: The trick is to aim for keywords with high search volume but lower competition to have a better chance of standing out in the Amazon search results.
Amazon KDP has a feature for entering keywords in keyword boxes, with an Amazon keywords character limit. You are allowed to choose up to seven keywords to feature outside of your title and book description to help readers find your book using Amazon's search engine.
Your keywords and key phrases should not include ASINs or URLs.
In addition to the seven keyword boxes, you also get to choose categories for your book. Your book can rank higher in specific categories like "hobbies," making it easier for readers to find it in the Kindle store when browsing.
Amazon's algorithm is always at work trying to flag dangerous and inappropriate content as well as content that doesn't align with its terms of service. Something that a lot of first-time publishers do accidentally is "keyword stuffing." Amazon really doesn't like it if you include the same keyword twice in your title and subtitle. If you've accidentally made this mistake, it's not always grounds for account termination, but you might get a warning in your email inbox.
The same goes for your book's metadata and description. If you just copy/paste the same word over and over again to try to fix the search results, you're most likely going to get your account flagged. It's not worth it!
Try to think of selling books like taking your readers on a safari. You want the itinerary (book description in this case) to outline everything they can expect from the journey they're about to take, but you also want to leave room for their imagination.
Pro Tip: Read about some of the self-publishing mistakes the Mikkelsen Twins made when they first started their publishing journeys in an exclusive interview with Rasmus!
Once you start getting the hang of things, here are some ways you can better target keywords to reach the right readers.
Identify common pain points your ideal readers encounter and position your Kindle book as the solution with precise keywords. For example, if your readers struggle with learning a complex subject, include keywords such as "easy," "step-by-step," or "beginner-friendly" in your listing to make the subject less intimidating.
You need to get to know your audience inside and out. What do they do for fun? What does a typical day look like for them? What's their budget? What lingo do they use and not use?
Anytime you choose to leave off a subtitle, you're sacrificing keywords for your book. Choosing a good series title with keyword phrases in mind can also be a great way to build your publishing brand and make it more memorable.
Amazon Kindle Ads can significantly boost your Kindle book's visibility. By bidding on relevant keywords, your ads appear in front of potential buyers, directly impacting your sales. Tailoring ads with long-tail keywords targeting your ideal reader profile increases the likelihood of conversion. Monitor your ad performance closely using Amazon's analytics to refine your approach.
Unfortunately, this isn't one of those "set it and forget it" parts of self-publishing, and you'll likely need to change keywords regularly if you want to keep up with your competition. Here's how to be efficient:
Amazon reserves the right to change its algorithm at any point.
These are some tools that can be especially handy for self-publishers:
If you're stuck on the waitlist for the premium version, the free version can still help you craft a list of the top keywords in your book niche. You will still need to verify that they're the best keywords to reach your target audience, but this can save you hours of brainstorming time.
This is the tool we teach our students to use, and just like ChatGPT, you don't need to purchase the upgrade to take advantage of all of its features. In fact, this is probably the best tool to see exactly which category and niche there's the most opportunity in.
Every AI Publishing Academy Student gets access to our Master AI Prompt Sheet with the exact phrases to feed AI to find profitable ideas, write your book's description, ask for book reviews, and so much more.
We're sharing one of our exclusive prompts here to help you get started on your keyword journey:
If someone were searching for a book about [TOPIC] on Amazon, what 10 terms would someone be most likely to search? I'm trying to figure out which keywords to include in my book title that will give my book the best chance to be seen.
Here's what that conversation looks like with our gardening topic using ChatGPT:
Finding the perfect keywords takes some work, sure. But would you rather be doing research online from the comfort of your own living room or...
-Working 9-5 every single day doing the same thing over and over again?
-Be at the mercy of a boss for when you need time off?
-Be too busy to even think about taking time off?
Now, imagine saying goodbye to all of these things for good and getting paid for your ideas instead.
The best part? You've already got everything you need to make it happen. We'll prove it to you.
Stop by our quick webinar to see exactly how thousands of self-publishers are using AI to make thousands of dollars in true passive income with just an Amazon account.
***Disclaimer: The "gardening" example used in this article is for information purposes only. It IS a growing and profitable niche, but there are hundreds of sub-niches within it, so please do your own research before dedicating your time and energy to ANY particular subject.