How to Find Your Book Keywords

Book quality check
Are you ready to market your book, wondering how to make sure potential readers can find it on Amazon and on other search engines? One answer: leverage your metadata and understand book keywords.

What Are Book Keywords?

Book keywords are one type of metadata, which is data that travels with other data, or is attached to it through a database or other association. Metadata can include data as simple as the name or size of the file, or it can be more complex, identifying a book’s topic, place of publication, author, and other aspects of a file. Keywords are geared towards classification and search functions. For authors, you will use keywords primarily to make your book as searchable as possible, to put it in front of potential readers. Without any keywords, your book would only come up on a search for its exact title, or a search that happens to include enough of the words in the title. Often, titles do not relate directly to the subject matter covered in the book, so failing to choose optimal keywords can lose you many potential readers.

The Search

Let’s say a potential reader is searching for dystopian science fiction novels. Dystopian science fiction can be used as a keyword, as can other elements of your book’s topics, setting, character types, or key names and themes for non-fiction books. One key distinction to understand is the difference between Amazon keywords and SEO keywords. Amazon keywords are not included in the HTML, which means they are not discoverable using other search engines. Another way to view this is that Amazon keywords function only internally, and are not searchable by Google or other search engines. In addition to your Amazon keywords, you will need to use keywords in your book blurb and product description for other search engines to be able to find your book. Amazon links data to these keywords using a back-end database. SEO keywords, useful for other search engines like Google, are usually found in product descriptions and book blurbs. If you write your own HTML page, they can be included as metadata in the page’s header. However, if you are using Amazon’s page, or another marketer’s page, you probably won’t be able to enter these keywords directly. Instead, you can use them in page content such as blurbs and descriptions.


Keywords are also used to help bookstores classify your work, and to allow more specific classification in digital distribution platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore. The keywords you choose will help drive the categories that you can choose when you post your book, so make sure they accurately represent your work. Try to think about it from a reader’s perspective: what words would you search for if you were looking for a book like yours?

Amazon Book Keywords

Amazon offers guidelines on how to choose optimal keywords for your book. For example, enter your keywords in a logical order. Many customers search for “dystopian science fiction”, but not for “fiction dystopian science.” Keywords can be either words or short phrases. The fields will have character limits, so be sure to keep phrases short and manageable. Amazon also offers guidelines about what to avoid when choosing keywords. This includes information already covered in the book’s metadata, such as title and contributors. Also, avoid subjective claims related to quality, like “best novel ever.” Avoid time sensitive statements, such as “available now” or “on sale.” Avoid information that is common to most items in the category, such as “book.” Do not use any misleading keywords such as the name of an author not associated with your book in some way. It is also important to avoid spelling errors, and variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, and pluralization.

Do Testing

Test your Amazon keywords by searching for them, and see if your book turns up. Test your SEO keywords by typing them into the search bar of a search engine like Google. If you have chosen frequently sought after, commonly searched keywords, the search bar will autofill the keyword as you type. This is a good indication you have chosen your keyword well. Also, your book should show up on the first few pages of the search results.

Choose Accurate Book Keywords

Be sure your keywords accurately reflect the content of your book. In the past, marketers and web designers have used misleading keywords to manipulate search results. In our example of a dystopian science fiction novel, they would perhaps have added other search terms for dystopian or apocalyptic themes, such as “meteor strike” or “pandemic”, even if they were unrelated to the plot of the book in question. Your keywords should, first and foremost, aim to accurately describe your book. Be sure to use keywords in the appropriate field when posting a Kindle book, and in your product description and blurb, but do not overuse or “pack” the page with keywords. Modern search engines look out for pages that try to “cheat” the system like this, and algorithms will usually eliminate these pages from the search results. Choosing the right keyword is just one aspect of how to properly market your book, but it is an essential and complex step, which a company like Izzard Ink can help make sure you get it right.

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