What is Amazon SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of using keywords to ensure your content appears as close to the top of search results as possible. Anyone selling a product or producing content online should understand the basics of SEO. But for authors marketing a self-published book, SEO is one of the most powerful tools you’ll have at your disposal. And while the basic concepts are similar, Amazon SEO has its own set of rules that are vital to success in the world’s most popular marketplace for self-published books. Failing to properly utilize Amazon SEO is a missed opportunity for sales, making your book tougher to find and therefore tougher to buy.
Amazon’s search algorithm has not been made public, and small changes are made frequently. But the basic ideas of Amazon SEO are well-understood, and well worth your time to learn and leverage. Most books are found on Amazon either through its search tool or through bestseller lists. And ranking high in search results is one of the keys to getting your book on bestseller lists – so it’s worth making SEO a high priority.
Luckily, you’ll have a few tools at your disposal. The first step is to simply list keywords that accurately describe your book and its content. Essentially, you’ll ask yourself what you would search for if you were a reader hoping to find a book like your own. Often, rather than single words, this means keyword strings. For example, a book on auto repair that focuses on old Volkswagens might use keywords like “Volkswagen repair” or “classic car restoration.”
If you need ideas, you can go to your book’s genre page on Amazon, and look into the drop-down lists on the left-hand side of the page, under “refine by.” This will give examples of what potential readers are searching for within your genre. The science fiction genre page, for example, offers potential keywords like “dystopian,” “time travel,” and “alternative history.”
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to see how these terms rank. You’ll need to create a Google Ads account, but won’t need to spend any more to use the Keyword Planner.
Take some of the highest-rated keywords from your search, and enter them into Amazon’s search bar. Additional keywords will be auto-populated as you type, which will help hone your existing keywords into new, relevant ones. For example, if you enter “dystopian” you will see “dystopian post apocalyptic fiction.”
You can add these relevant keywords from the autofill to your previous list of five to ten successful keywords from the Keyword Planner.
Amazon SEO revolves around keywords, and the site’s algorithm gives the most weight to those that are included in your book’s title and subtitle, author name, and publisher name. Amazon will also let you choose seven “metadata keywords” when you upload your book to the site, which are given extra weight, though not as much as keywords in the title or subtitle. Lastly, Amazon’s search function will look for keywords included in your book description.
This is why it’s a good practice to keep Amazon SEO in mind early in not only the marketing process, but even the writing process. Keywords in your title or subtitle will go a long way toward helping your book rank highly in search results.
Beware of practices like putting keywords in your author field or spamming a list of keywords in your title. Often, this will get your book removed from Amazon entirely. Counterintuitively, your subtitle offers a better opportunity for keywords, since a title packed with keywords will often send up a red flag that you are trying to game the system instead of using an organic title. Your description offers another chance to bring in these keywords in a natural way.
Another reason not to use misleading SEO practices is that Amazon tracks the number of people that purchase your book after finding it in their search results, ranking your book higher based on how often this happens. So if people find your book in a search, but don’t find it relevant or appealing, fewer readers will find it in future searches.
There’s no shortage of reasons to accumulate as many good reader reviews as possible, but you can also add Amazon SEO to the list. Amazon’s algorithm will take into account both your overall rating and the number of reviews your book has earned. A book with a high rating from many reviewers will rank highest. Elsewhere on Izzard’s blog you’ll find in-depth advice on acquiring these reviews.
Ultimately, the quality of your content and other marketing efforts will contribute to your SEO rankings. Conversely, even the best possible Amazon SEO practices will do little to boost long-term sales for a book that is poorly marketed or simply of low quality.