In my last post I talked about the basics of SEO keywords and today, I’ll briefly go over the dos and don’ts of where and when to use them. SEO can help book sales by positioning a book in a clear and concise manner for readers to find easily. It can also hurt, an author when used improperly causing the search engines to actually downgrade a book. In fact, just a few years ago, a retailer took down all self-published books from their website causing an uproar.
But before I go there, I still need to address the issue of sloth.
Keywords The Lazy Way
In my last post, I showed you how to find keywords on Amazon and Goodreads. However, if you are short on time, or just don’t want to bother, there are several pieces of software that claim they can take the hassle out of keyword searches. One is called, Kindle Spy and the other, KD Suite, both claim they can find out what other bestselling authors are doing so you can spy on what they’re doing right. The software can cost anywhere from $47 to $97 (U.S.).
None of the authors I’ve seen have anything special to report after using these types of software. They do what they promise, they save time but there is a question about accuracy. One author who used Kindle Spy claimed to have spied on herself and was surprised to see the software reported that she was selling 6 times more than she actually was. There was also suspicion about that software possibly counting free books as sales.
Where Do We Use These Keywords?
After you find the keywords that fit your book best, it’s time to start putting them in the title or subtitle of your book. I highly advise at least putting keywords in a subtitle even if it’s not in your original plan to have a subtitle. This let’s readers know exactly what they’re getting when they click buy. For example, in my vampire novel Eternal Bond I did this:
As you can see, I told readers it was a vampire novel series in the subtitle just so they know exactly what they are getting. It worked very well on Wattpad.
A Warning About Keyword Stuffing
But you don’t have to stop there, keywords can be used on social media as well. For example on Twitter, hashtags, help people connect to the topics they’re interested in. The best way to get visible and possibly go viral is to use keywords so people can find you.
Now on the flipside, sites like Twitter and Instagram encourage users to not put more than a few hashtags per post. It’s considered unsightly and douchey by some. Remember it’s nice to have keywords but use them sparingly even on social media.
Under No Circumstance Should You Try Black Hat SEO
As you may have already guessed there were some authors who were not honest when listing their book’s genre. In fact, several authors have been busted in the past listing their books under the incorrect categories intentionally because those were the hottest genres at the time. This is why Amazon allows readers to report books incorrectly labeled and will even recategorize a book if the mood strikes them.
This all came after an incident called, Erotica Gate where erotic books were allegedly mislabeled and put in the children’s section of the online store. Though the allegations were never proven, that didn’t stop several retailers such as Kobo, Amazon and WH Smith from taking down thousands of indie books in response to this story.
Methods where products are intentionally manipulated (misrepresented) to gain visibility from a search engine is called: Black Hat SEO. Remember retailers, and social media sites all have search engines and they all have rules regarding how to use their sites. Violate those rules and you’ll find your book demoted or banned from their site.
Back to our story, after the Erotica Gate incident, several retailers changed their rules about category listings and keyword usage in order to improve metadata. This was a positive change for readers but it came at a price—literally.
SEO has become a powerful aide when promoting blogs posts, or books because if readers can’t find what they’re looking for, they can’t read it. Also, SEO can help you gain visibility on sites like Wattpad and Twitter so it would be to your benefit to learn a little about it in order to position your work for success.