Self-publishing on Amazon KDP for the first time and can’t wait to have millions of people read your book? We get your excitement. After all, there is no better feeling than being successful at what you love doing the most - in this case, writing books.
However, selling books on the Kindle Store is very different from what you might know about the book publishing process in general. Here, you are not working with a traditional book publishing house. There are no bookstores or book promotion events like book signings either.
Kindle book publishing is a completely different ball game, where you must know the ins and outs of Kindle SEO to get more eyeballs on your book and generate sales.
In the following Amazon Kindle SEO guide, we’ll cover:
And much more.
Let’s get things started!
SEO on Amazon refers to the practice of improving your listings so they are more visible to the people shopping on the online marketplace. These listings could be for regular household items, luxury products, tools - or books.
As a Kindle author, you’re competing with hundreds and thousands of self-publishers. How do you make sure potential readers know your book exists? How do you convince them to read your book and not the one published by your competitor on the same topic?
More importantly, how do you make the Amazon search engine understand the subject matter of your book? Remember, you are not dealing with a human here.
Two words: Kindle SEO.
SEO for KDP helps Amazon establish what your book is about and categorize it accordingly. So whenever a user searches for a book in your niche, Amazon makes sure your book shows up in the search results. This in turn helps generate quality leads and clicks, which increases your conversions and book sales.
Here is an example of Kindle SEO in action:
We’ve searched for fantasy harem adventure books. Notice how the listings have the target phrase in their title, helping Amazon understand the content of the books.
Also, Dragon Crafter by Noah Layton is outranking everyone in the niche. Amazon thinks the book is more relevant than other listed titles. More on this later.
A common mistake many people make is to assume that Kindle SEO works the same as Google SEO—it doesn’t.
Though both Amazon and Google are secretive about the workings of their algorithm, there are a few things we know about each.
Google SEO aims to cater to the users’ needs in the best possible way. You can be looking for information about holiday spots, a product, a kitchen hack, etc. and Google will always show you the results that are most relevant to your search.
On the other hand, Amazon KDP works to serve users with the best books available. Remember that the Kindle Store is a marketplace for books first and foremost. It needs to drive sales, and it can only do so by recommending titles that are relevant, popular, and sell well.
Amazon has its own search engine called A9. It was originally created to compete with Google and other major search engines. However, Amazon soon realized it wasn’t a fight it was going to win and decided to incorporate the algo into its online marketplace instead.
Amazon’s A9 determines the visibility of your books on the website. If you want to be a successful self-publisher, you’ll need to get in A9’s good books.
Based on our discussion so far, it’s quite clear that rankings matter on Amazon Kindle. The higher you rank, the more likely the users will pick your book off the shelves.
How to get those top spots on Kindle pages?
Amazon ranks your book based on relevance, where the latter can be defined as a combination of keyword relevance and page engagement and activity.
In other words, if your listing has relevant keywords, gets regular clicks, and generates healthy sales, Amazon will rank it higher for the relevant search query.
How do I research keywords for KDP?
You can’t just use any keywords for your Amazon product page. There are a few things you need to keep in mind:
Think of the keywords that best describe the subject matter of your book and make a list of them. Check if they are relevant by throwing them into the Amazon search bar and see what types of books show up in the results. If you get books similar to yours, you can move forward with the keywords. If not, drop them and find new ones.
Search volume is important. If your keywords aren’t popular with your audience, there is no point in adding them to your Kindle listing. To check if a keyword has a good search volume, type them in the search bar and see if they pop up in the suggestions. Alternatively, you can use a third party tool to get Kindle keyword search volume estimates. Anything with a monthly volume of 300 searches or more is considered a good keyword.
You need to use keywords that would bring you sales. How to find if the keyword you are targeting converts well? Simply check the ABSR of the top listings that show up for that keyword. The lower this number, the higher the sales.
Estimates suggest that books with an ABSR between 500 and 5000 sell up to 150 copies daily.
Amazon assigns each book a Best Sellers Rank aka BSR or ABSR. This number is assigned to a book based on its historical sales data. Books with low BSRs sell more than those with high BSRs.
Lastly, make sure your keywords are not overly competitive. It could be difficult to rank for such keywords, especially if you are just starting your Kindle journey. Feel free to niche down if you have to.
Next, let’s take a look at how to do Kindle keyword research for non-fiction and fiction books.
Non-fiction books typically focus on problem solving. You need to keep this in mind when doing your keyword research.
Follow the steps below to find the keywords for your non-fiction book:
Begin by brainstorming keywords in four main areas: pain points, desired results, emotional amplifiers, and demographics.
These are the keywords that best describe the problems your audience is facing. “How to be more likable”, “How to lose weight”, and “How to grieve the loss of a loved one” are a few examples for this type of keywords.
These refer to specific benefits your readers may receive after reading your book. Examples include “instant weight loss”, “get rich”, and “learn French”.
These are words that don’t do much on their own, but they can magnify the impact of desired results. For example, “get rich fast”, “boost your confidence in 6 weeks” and “be the best you, only better”.
These keywords best describe your target audience. Examples include “coloring book for kids aged 6-10”, “online money making ideas for moms-to-be”, and “how to improve your memory as a student”.
You now have a long list of keywords. Mix and match them to develop different combinations and keyword phrases.
These long tail keywords will not only give you more options to choose from, but they will also help you niche down, reducing the competition significantly.
Finally, put the keywords in third-party keyword research tools like ZonGuru to assess their search volume and profitability. Pick the best ones.
Coming up with keywords for fiction books is much harder because they don’t offer a clear solution to a problem. Instead, these books are designed to entertain the readers.
Here’s a framework for coming up with keywords for books in fiction categories:
You can start by brainstorming keywords in four areas: time period and location, character roles, theme, and style and tone.
Just like you would set the scene before anything else when telling a story, you should begin your keyword research by brainstorming keywords related to your story settings. For example, “nineteenth-century England”, “dystopian society in the future”, and “World-War II Japan”.
Characters are pretty simple to find keywords for. These can be keywords like “strong woman”, “wizard”, “detective”, etc.
To determine the theme of your book, think about the reason your characters are in the situation they are in. For example, “grief and loss”, “Great Depression”, “drug wars”, etc.
This refers to the general tone of your book. Is it a feel-good romance? Or dark and gritty? Brainstorm a list of keywords accordingly.
The rest of the steps are the same as how you would do keyword research for non-fiction books.
You’ll combine the keywords from the previous step to generate keyword phrases. Once you have an extensive list, you can put the keywords in a Kindle keyword search tool and filter the ones with high search volume and strong revenue potential.
Amazon places no restrictions on how many keywords you can use for your Kindle listing. However, you must have a list of at least 15 keywords to start with. These can be a mix of broad and niche keywords. You can use them in the title, subtitle, description, and search fields.
Broad keywords describe your book on the surface. They can range anything from simple root keywords like survival, space, harem, etc. to category specific keywords like sci-fi, adventure, puzzle book etc.
These keywords come with a high search volume but also have more competition and aren’t the best at converting.
On the other hand, niche keywords are long tail keywords and more specific to the subject matter and/or settings of your book. They have relatively lower search volume compared to broad keywords but they tend to convert well. Examples of niche keywords include survival in space, hunting logbook for kids, and true spy stories.
You can use Kindle keywords in the title, subtitle, description, search keyword fields, and reviews. The latter are posted by the readers so there isn’t much you can do about them.
Using the right keywords help your book get indexed in relevant categories on Amazon to make it easier for readers to find it.
Using keywords in titles makes the most sense for non-fiction books. Find a way to incorporate the pain points and desired results in the title of your book so people can find it easily.
Inserting keywords in the title of your fiction book is a little trickier since their titles tend to be related to the plot of the book, but there are still ways to do it. For example, if you wrote a book called “Wizard of Waverly Place”, the word “wizard” is a keyword associated with the larger fantasy category.
Still, if you think fitting in the keywords in the title of your fiction book may not make sense, you can always play with the listing title and keep the actual book title as the original one. As long as the listing title is not misleading, you are fine using this approach.
Amazon appears to prioritize books with keywords in their title because they give a clear indication of what the book is about.
Subtitles give you further room to experiment with the keywords.
Consider the example for money management books for college students:
Notice how all the top listings have the related keywords in their subtitle and title, helping Amazon understand what the actual books are about.
Amazon gives you a 200 character limit for the title and subtitle combined. Make sure to use this real estate effectively.
Book descriptions are perfect for incorporating both broad and niche keywords. They come with a grand 4000 character limit, allowing you to use keywords without disrupting the overall flow.
You can even use formatting in the description of your book to bold or italicize important keywords. This will help your audience scan them easily and immediately relate to the content of your book, increasing your chances of making a sale.
Amazon gives you seven keyword boxes or “search fields” to fill in with relevant keywords. Each of these boxes can be filled with 50 characters max. It’s recommended to utilize this limit fully to boost your Kindle SEO.
While Amazon doesn’t advise publishers to repeat the same keywords in the search fields they might have used in the title, subtitle and description earlier, it doesn’t penalize them for it either.
Also, it has been observed that Amazon rearranges the keywords in the search fields for different possible combinations, driving more traffic to your listing.
Note: If your keywords aren’t related to the content of your book, they will not be indexed. So avoid gaming the system.
Reviews with keywords can help you gain visibility in some categories, but this is not a strategy to rely on, since reviews are posted by users and you have no control over them.
That being said, if you promote your Amazon Kindle book on pages where the audience is passionate about the topics your book covers, they may leave reviews on your listing with relevant keywords.
Pro Tip: You can add keywords to the About and Editorial Comments sections of your Author Central page to supercharge your SEO.
The click-through-rate is what you get when you divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions on your listing. It tells Amazon whether or not your book deserves a higher ranking on Kindle.
A poor CTR shows that your audience doesn’t find your book interesting enough even after they see it in the Amazon search results.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can improve your CTR on Amazon KDP:
When selling books on KDP Store, your audience certainly does judge your book by its cover. Unless they have access to Kindle Unlimited, they can’t really scan through your book, which is why designing an attention-grabbing book cover is so important.
Publishing on Kindle is free. Use these cost savings to hire a professional book cover designer to make your listing stand out and pull the readers in.
Give your book a title that prompts users to click on your listing. However, make sure it’s not misleading and accurately indicates what your book is about. Spend some time coming up with a title that has a hook.
Aim for the “Best Seller” badge
The Best Sellers badge makes even an ordinary book look good on Amazon. It’s the easiest way to get those clicks. Make sure you apply for the right category, one that’s highly relevant to your book and not overly competitive, to boost your chances of winning the Best Seller badge.
When was the last time you bought a product or visited a restaurant without checking their reviews? We rarely ever do so. Reviews are important to us.
Similarly, your audience likes to read reviews posted by others who have already read your book. A long list of great reviews under a book attracts more clicks.
Of course, the date of the reviews and whether they are verified also matter. In fact, it is believed Amazon gives more importance to these over the number of reviews you have on your Kindle listing.
Kindle offers many tools to help publishers promote their books on Amazon.
KDP Select is a good example of one such tool. It’s a free 90-day promotion program that gives you access to millions of users on Kindle Unlimited. These users can “borrow” your book instead of purchasing it. In return, your book gets more eyeballs, while you receive a nice payout from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Global Fund.
Next, you have Kindle Free Book Promotion and Kindle Countdown Deals.
Kindle Free Book Promotion allows self-publishers to make their books available for free for up to 5 days.
Why would I give my book away for free, you ask?
Well, it helps get the ball rolling. When you offer people something for free, they’re more likely to give it a shot. Hopefully, they’ll give your book a look-see, read it, and may even leave you a review with a high rating. This can then help you attract more readers even after the promotion period is over.
Kindle Countdown Deals let publishers offer their books on discount for a limited number of days. A timer is placed next to the discounted price on your book’s page to entice users to purchase it before the promotion is over.
It takes a maximum of 12 hours for an order to reflect on your Kindle sales rank. So as long as your book is live on Amazon, and your listing has all the bases covered, you can expect to rank on Kindle in no time.
Amazon has never said that new books are favored when they are first published. However, there is some evidence that suggests that it does. This is referred to as the “honeymoon period”.
Yes, it does. The number of downloads and pages read have a direct impact on your sales rank. Even if your book has a rank of 1,000,000 (which it may when it is first published), a single download on Kindle Unlimited where the reader has read more than 10% of your book can bring the BSR down to 100,000.
Bear in mind that you do not get paid on Kindle Unlimited unless a reader reads at least 10% of your book.
All publishers would love to be #1 on Amazon KDP, but that doesn’t happen overnight. An overall BSR of below 10,000 is a good target to aim for when first starting on Kindle. You can expect to sell 26 books on average daily.
Amazon Kindle SEO is critical to the success of your book because it has a direct effect on your visibility. On a platform where you are competing against millions of titles and authors, implementing Amazon SEO is an effective and powerful way to increase sales.
SEO for Amazon KDP involves incorporating relevant keywords in the title, subtitles, description, and metadata of your book. You must also ensure your book cover is well designed and that you are taking the necessary steps to boost your CTR. Furthermore, you should focus on driving more sales for your book using different promotion tools offered by Amazon.
Because keywords play such a crucial role in the sale of your book, keyword research tools like Zonguru can help you find the best Kindle keywords and most profitable niches for your self-publishing journey.
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