Key information about book keywords


In yesterday's post, we shared expert advice on writing a better blurb and hinted at one hugely important part: keywords.

Now we’re ready to expand upon that.

Of course, if you’ve got the budget, you could hire someone like Chris Sim, founder/CEO of Kadaxis, which helps publishers improve book visibility in search through keywords.

But if not, Sim’s free advice is to understand how readers talk about and describe your book. “The topics and phrases they use to talk about books are often the same as the search queries they use to find them,” he says.

Your online reviews are a great starting point to identifying those phrases, says author Beth Bacon, who’s also a marketing consultant and a curator at

What if your book doesn’t have reviews or enough of them? Both experts suggest checking out the reviews of books that are similar to yours.

No matter where you search, though, your goal should be to identify ten to fifteen terms that pop up often — and that’s just your starting point.

“You shouldn’t simply pop the first five words you find into your description,” Bacon says. “It’s wise to compare the consumer’s terms with keywords that you think are appropriate.”

Once you’ve gathered and refined your data, then it’s time to pop the phrases into the blurb you’ve already written, says Bacon.

“If you start with the keywords, the description will sound stilted and probably not be as effective. Write a compelling description using whatever words come to you. Then seed your keywords into (it).”

And finally, it’s time to put your work to the test. Again, Sim has a simple DIY recommendation: run searches on those terms and see whether your book pops up.

“If the book isn’t within the first few pages of search results, it’s unlikely the keywords will have any effect,” he says. “Don’t forget that combinations of the terms across different keywords can be combined to match more search queries.”

Sim acknowledges that this will take some time, but he and Bacon are emphatic that work on developing keywords is well worth it.

“Typically the more time you can spend iterating over keywords and measuring results, the more effective they'll end up being,” Sim says.

The above information is all focused on what to include in a product search engine, like the blurb you post on Amazon.

However, when it comes to Web search engines like Google, Sim has this to say: “The best thing you can do is write for the person reading your content, and not the machine processing it.

“Web search algorithms are getting better and better at discerning the meaning and intent of content, and how well it will resonate with readers.

“All else being equal, well-written content about a topic will perform better than one artificially seeded with keywords.”