Whether you are publishing your first book on Amazon or you are a seasoned author, using Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform to market your content is going to be a major advantage. As the largest book market, Amazon gives you the tools to make your book a success!
One of those tools for success is the Kindle keyword search boxes. Keywords are important. There’s no two ways about it. If you need to learn how to use keywords to get your amazing book in front of the right readers, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you will learn:
- What Kindle keywords are
- How to utilize keywords for Amazon self-publishing
- Best keyword practices
What Are Kindle Keywords?
During the publishing process through Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, you are presented with seven text boxes labeled “Keywords.” These seven boxes seem pretty self-explanatory, right? Pop a word or phrase into each box that relates back to your book, right?
While it may seem standard, the algorithms Amazon uses to index books are more complicated. Thus, those seven “keyword” boxes become deceptively easy. Each box can hold up to 50 characters. If you’re thinking that it seems like such a waste to put a single word or phrase into a text box that holds 50 characters, then you are spot on!
The KDP platform gives you a fantastic tool for marketing with those text boxes, and all you have to do is understand the best ways to use them and how not to use them. The keywords and phrases you select are going to be what indexes your books for searches.
When readers flock to the online market in search of their next favorite read, they type in words and phrases to search for specific kinds of books and topics. The secret for authors is to maximize the number of searches they will come up in. How do you do that? You guessed it—with the Kindle keywords!
The 7 Kindle Keyword Boxes
While some authors are adamant that each “keyword” box should only have a single word or phrase in them, an experiment on Amazon’s searches and indexing showed that this isn’t always the case. First and foremost, when you type a phrase like “vampire romance novel” into one of the search boxes, Amazon indexes that phrase for all its variations.
As long as you don’t enclose a phrase with quotation marks, your book will then come up in searches for “romance novel vampire” and other permutations; this includes pluralization. Amazon specifically advises publishers not to use quotations around phrases, because it limits the search to the specific phrase.
It is, however, worth noting that Amazon won’t index phrases that they don’t consider relevant or legitimate. They stick to topics and phrases that are searchable on their site.
Now, it is hard to fill a 50 character box with one keyword or phrase. What’s to be done about this? Well, it is recommended that you pick a keyword or phrase for each of the seven boxes. Then, use other relevant words and terms to fill the remaining 50 characters of each box.
Amazon recommends not using the same words more than once, including words that show up in your book’s metadata or title. However, there is no actual penalization for using the same words. It does diminish the number of characters you have for a broader market, but it won’t necessarily take away from the searches your book comes up in. It also doesn’t give your book better rankings.
When it comes to the seven keyword boxes, if you fill the boxes with words and phrases, you are indexed in more searches. However, you assume a lower rank in those searches.
How Do Keywords Work to Sell Your Book?
Think about the last time you went shopping on Amazon. If you didn’t have a specific product or brand in mind, you probably went to the search bar and typed a phrase or a keyword that related to what you were looking for. Once you initialized the search, lots of different options populated on the web page.
That’s what happens with your book. Shoppers who are perusing Amazon for their next Kindle book are most likely going to search for a book the same way they search for a product—with keywords.
Sure, a lot of readers might have a title in mind already. However, prolific readers who are always looking for the next big hit might just type in a few genre types, a character type, or a theme into the search bar. It increases the number of books they get to scroll through and brings them to options they might not have otherwise considered.
Those search results are based on the keywords you attach to your book. If you want your book to come up when someone searches for an adventure novel, then that is a phrase you would consider using in your keywords boxes. Then, anytime someone searches for an “adventure novel” on Amazon, your book will be indexed into their search results.
See how that works? The more relevant searches you can come up in, the more likely your book will be noticed and picked. Did you know that it takes the average consumer seven views before they settle on a specific item? That means, on average, someone has to see your book seven times before they will consider purchasing it.
If your keywords allow you to come up in multiple searches that a single consumer goes through, they will be exposed to your book several times in a single day. It is easier to hit that target “seven views” exposure. You can see how keywords work to sell your book, but they still have to be the right keywords that will make an impact.
Find Keywords People Really Use to Search Amazon
Before you can really get keywords to work in your advantage, you are going to want to research what keywords are searched for on Amazon. This is easy enough for you to do on your own without looking at statistics and large studies.
Simply open a web page and put yourself in incognito mode. This mode is going to allow you to do some of your own research on Amazon searches without it being influenced by your personal searches.
Next, go to the Amazon website and change the search bar field to “Kindle Store” or “Books.” Amazon has a nifty built-in feature that guesses what you want to search for when you begin typing.
Start with a simple keyword or phrase like “fantasy” and see what Amazon pre-populates after the word “fantasy.” Take notes on the results. After that, type in “fantasy” again, but add an “a” at the end. Then, move onto putting a “b” in the place of “a” and continue through the entire alphabet.
The words and phrases that populate automatically are going to relate to the most searched topics, terms, and words. Basing your keywords off what is commonly searched will make your books more relevant in searches.
Check the Competition
The statistics behind Amazon Kindle book searches say that 27% of people will click on the first search option. Only 12% will click on the second search option. That percentage drops significantly to only 6% of shoppers clicking on search items 6 to 14.
What this means is that knowing what phrases and words are searched does not necessarily guarantee your book views. You’ll need to take a look at the competition and see what they are doing that sets them apart and makes them more successful.
A few of the factors that contribute to success include:
- Author popularity
- Book cover design
- Age of publication
- Book reviews
- Titles and subtitles
While those items might not appear to relate directly back to the use of keywords for your Kindle book, there is some overlap. For example, if you have a few books that sold well in one genre but are publishing a book in an entirely different genre, you might not get the same traffic. Including your own name as a keyword will help readers that like your work find your new book by searching your name.
Taking a look at what other authors are doing and what they are doing well is going to give you ideas on how to stand out even further and get yourself into a higher position on the search results.
Find Keywords That Amazon Shoppers Pay For
Another consideration when it comes to keywords and search results is that, just because a topic or phrase is searched a lot, doesn’t mean a lot of purchases are made in that field. Sometimes a topic gets searches and no sales. You want your keywords to generate sales! To research this topic, you’ll want to utilize the Amazon Calculator feature.
While still in incognito mode, type in a keyword or phrase you want to use in your Amazon “Kindle Store” or “Books” department and search. Select the first three search results that populate.
You can copy their Amazon Best Seller Rank, ABSR, and paste it into the Amazon calculator. The calculator translates the ABSR into estimated sales on any given day. You can determine if the topic is searched frequently or not (low sales can mean low ranking search results). The other possibility is that the keyword is searched a lot, but the options available aren’t what consumers are looking for.
Repeating this method for each of your keywords and phrases is going to help you use keywords that generate sales and not just hits.
Best Practices for Kindle Keywords Search
There are a lot of good practices to utilize when selecting your keywords and using them for more search optimization.
Best keyword practices include:
- Combining words and phrases in the most logical order; let it flow
- Use as much of the 50 character text field in each box as you can
- Search your words and phrases first, change them if the results are irrelevant or not satisfying
- Imagine yourself as the reader, think what you would search for when looking for a book to read
A great way to utilize keywords is to select one to three keyword phrases for your book. Make sure they are specifically relevant to your book. Ensure shoppers are looking for them. Also, use phrases that don’t have excessive competition. The remaining four keyword search boxes can be filled with keywords and phrases that are niche-specific.
So, while you are figuring out what your best keyword and phrase options are, remember to consider the competition, what people search for, and what people sell.
A tool that can help you organize these data points and help you use beneficial and unique keywords is Publisher Rocket. This site will give you information on the number of competitors, the number of Amazon searches per month, average monthly earnings for the top five books in that field, and the competition score.
You can use Publisher Rocket for fiction and nonfiction keywords. You can search for phrases, genres, single words, themes, etc. It is a paid service, and you can achieve what you need for free with the tools in this guide, but it cuts down on the leg work.
Your book is already filled with potential keywords to help you market it. Take a look at the examples below if you are having trouble filling your keyword search boxes.
Some good words and phrases that can be used to boost your search results in fiction writing include:
- Character type and/or role (female heroin, single dad)
- Plot and theme (romance, adventure, coming of age)
- The tone of the story (emotionally heavy, feel-good)
- Setting (time, place)
- Genre or genre flavor (hot & steamy romance vs. epic love story)
Some of the best keyword and phrase option ideas to use for nonfiction books include:
- What your reader stands to gain
- Target reader and/or demographic
- Main points and highlights
- Descriptive words of content
Keyword Types to Avoid
While there are plenty of good options to use for keywords, it stands to reason there are some keywords that should be avoided. These tips provided by Amazon are helpful, but some of them aren’t as detrimental as Amazon makes it sound.
Types of keywords to avoid include:
- Subjective claims of your book’s greatness
- Common descriptive words (book, novel, ebook)
- Time-based descriptions (new, hot off the press)
- Spelling errors and words that aren’t real, like some slang words
- Anything that can be viewed as misrepresentative
- Amazon program names (Kindle Direct, KDP)
- Variants of punctuation, capitalization, spacing, and pluralization (dragon and dragons, 50MB and 50 MB)
Kindle Keyword Tips
There are some other useful tips to consider when compiling your keywords and publishing your book through KDP.
Consider these additional tips:
- Avoid titles of more than 60 characters
- Focus the description on the book’s content
- Ensure keywords and metadata adhere to KDP guidelines
- Use keywords to capture important information that won’t fit in title and description
- Change and update keywords as needed
In parting, keywords are important. Using them the right way, with all the tips and resources provided in this article, you can greatly enhance your sales and success through kindle publishing.
Please, use these methods ethically and enjoy your success!