Indie Publishing, Publishing, SEO, Social Media, writing

SEO Keywords for Self-Published Books: Part 1

SEO Keywords for Self-Published Books 2 Pitnerest
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Three years ago, I wrote an article for authors called SEO Keywords for Fiction Authors and it was one of my most popular posts.  However, a lot has changed since then and SEO has become even more important for authors. Over the past few years Amazon as well as a few other sites have changed their rules about how many keywords you can use and which ones. In fact, several authors have found their books recategorized after choosing the wrong keywords. If you don’t want this happening to you, it would be in your best interest to learn which keywords are best for books in your genre.

Why Bother?

Every major retailer has a search engine to help their customers navigate their websites. Today, the biggest search engines in the world are Google and Amazon. Yes, you read that right, Amazon is considered a search engine as is Apple, so it would be wise to learn how shoppers search if you want to position your book for better visibility.

A few years back, when indie authors everywhere were squawking about keywords and claiming to have gotten sales by tweaking the categories and keywords on their books, I wasn’t a firm believer. That was until I did an experiment with one of my free stories on Wattpad and went from having just a couple of views to a few thousand views. So SEO does matter when ranking in the search engines but as for sales, that’s another story. I do believe that SEO can be a powerful asset to a marketing strategy but in and of itself, it’s not a strategy to rely on. You still need to do other things like advertise, secure interviews, and utilize social media right along with strong SEO.

Types of Keywords Authors Can Use:

Genre: Romance, Thriller, Sci-Fi, etc.
Subgenre: Sweet Romance, Crime Thriller, Sci-Fi Adventure, etc.
Geography: Chicago, Medieval England, Mars.
Language: English, Klingon, Elvish, etc.
Topic: Social Issues, Pathologies, Special Groups.

To find your genre and subgenre go to Goodreads and check out their genre page. Click on the genre that fits your book best, and it will take you to a page with related genres in the upper right hand corner. You can find everything from Bulgarian Literature to Dragon Lance in the Goodreads genre list. When I clicked on Young Adult, I was taken to a page that listed subgenres ranging from fantasy to contemporary literature.

SEO Keywords for Authors
They kind of take out the guesswork don’t they?

If you want to find your subgenre, go to their genres list.

You can also do this also with Amazon, by going to their books section here and choosing to shop by category. When I chose Teens and Young Adult, I got not only subgenres, but the most popular categories, authors, and series. Meanwhile in the left hand margin, I got more subgenres to consider like art & photography as well as social issues.

Keywords for Indie Authors



If you are totally lost and don’t know what genre to list your book, ask yourself several questions:

1. What age group is my book geared towards; adult, teens or children?
2. Is the conflict internal or external? If it’s internal, then you might want to consider labeling it literary.
3. Is the book geared towards women or men? Men’s fiction usually consists of thrillers, crime and graphic novels. Meanwhile women’s fiction usually consists of romance, chick lit, and erotica.

Even if after all this, you’re still confused just ask another author or even a beta reader what genre they think the book is. Don’t stress this too much, if you mess up, you can always go back and tweak things later.

Before I go, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that SEO is just one part of a successful marketing campaign.  There is no magic bullet when it comes to marketing books just ask the publishers at the New York big five.  However good SEO does help give your book the visibility it needs to compete in a market saturated in books.

Blogging, SEO

SEO Keywords For Fiction Authors (Part 2)

Before we get started, let me review last week’s lesson.  Hopefully, you got some good key words and are ready to use them.  Now before you go posting keywords all over your blog or website, let’s stop and figure out why we’re doing this in the first place.

The point of author SEO is to rank highest on the Google search for your name, your book’s title and for the genre(s) in which you write.  If you’re going to rank highest for anything it should be your name.  When your name is typed, your blog or website should appear near the top of the page.  This keeps things easy for readers, journalists, and people within the publishing industry.  Today I’ll be showing you how using WordPress.

Okay, so now that we got our keywords, what the heck do we do with them?

Putting Keywords in Your Site’s Header

So if you’re trying to get ranked for the key term: “Children’s Author” your title should go something like, Jane Doe Children’s Author.  The header of this blog is: “Rachel Rueben YA Author & Novelist” to change your header on WordPress simply go to your dashboard and go to Appearance and click on Header.

Blog SEO

Keywords in Your Post

Next, you’ll have to insert these key words within the content of your page/post.  When doing this make sure to use bold, italics and even underline those keywords and spread them throughout the post.  This is the part that many bloggers fail at.  It’s an art form to include keywords throughout an article without making your content read like gibberish, but it’s doable.  This is a great idea for those who are creating sales pages or bookstores on their websites.

Tagging Your Pics With Keywords

Now it’s on to tagging photos on your blog.  Hopefully, you have a picture of your book’s cover, if not, grab a stock photo and make a mock cover.  Start by going to your dashboard and clicking on “Add Media” button.  Now upload your cover and in the “Title” as well as the “Alt Text” section, put your book’s title, your author name and genre then when you’re done, insert that picture on your webpage or blog post.

SEO in Pics

Tagging Posts With Keywords

Next, go to a new or old blog post and scroll down to the “Tags”‘ section and start adding your keywords.  Just be certain they have something to do with the article or post your tagging.  It’s considered bad SEO to tag irrelevant words to a post and the people at Google frown on that and will downgrade your site’s ranking.

    Tagging Blog Posts

Think You’re Done?  Ha, Ha!

Believe it or not, you can add even keywords to your blog post’s URL.  Often called the slug, it’s part of the URL that’s readable and contains a summary of the article.  In WordPress, you can edit your blog post’s permalink by simply clicking on the “Edit” button.  Just remember to include the dashes: Jane-Does-Childrens-Book-Zoo-Babies-From-Mars and click O.K.

SEO Keywords in URL's

Final Tip:

Like with all marketing, you will have to update some of your keywords from time to time in case of a genre change, or even with new technological innovations.  Ebooks seem to be the hottest topic researched on Google today, but who knows, ebooks may be history in a few years.

Well I hope I helped demystify SEO and made things a little less scary.  Now you can confidently go forth and rise to the heights of the search engines with no fears. 🙂  I know this was a lot of information, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section.  And for those of you who need a more visual tutorial here’s one from Blogging Bootcamp on Youtube.

Blogging, SEO

SEO Keywords For Fiction Authors

Image via Pixabay


Update: I did a more recent version of this article called: SEO Keywords for Self-Published Books in 2016, so go check it out.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic about writing this post because it was so technical and to be real, I usually ignore posts about SEO and keyword research.  That’s mainly, because the subject is so boring.  But after seeing the comment section in my last post, I realized I had to face an old demon.  Yes, I do read the comments and I often feel your pain.

Not only did I find SEO boring, I didn’t realize the correlation between it and book marketing.  But there is, keywords are an intricate part of online marketing and most of us are selling our books online so wouldn’t it be nice if we understood this mysterious creature called SEO?

Anyone can rank high in the search engines just by inserting popular words and riding on the coattails of controversy or news headlines but that easily backfire.  In my own experience I’ve used the wrong keywords on this blog and ended up with a ton of bounce traffic.

In most cases, author blogs and websites need to be tagged with keywords that include:

  1. Title of your book
  2. Author Name
  3. Genre of your book

But you can’t just let it end there, you have to insert commonly searched terms.  This is where the Google adwords search toolbar comes into play.  In less than a half-hour, I was armed with the most searched terms related to fiction books.

Top search results on the word: “Books”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

E books 4,090,000
Online books 2,740,000
On line books 2,240,00
Books online 2,740,000
New books 1,000,000
Google books 2,740,000
Children’s Books 823,000
Kindle Book 1,220,000

Top results for the term: “Fiction”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

Fiction Books 673,00
Adult Fiction 201,000
Historical Fiction 135,000
Top Fiction Books 110,000
Free Fiction 90,500
New Fiction 90,500
Fiction Series 74,000
Good Fiction 60,500
Romantic Fiction 49,500
Adult Fiction Novels 40,500
Gay Fiction 40,500
Flash Fiction 33,100
Horror Fiction 22,200
Christian Fiction 27,100
Contemporary Fiction 18,100

Top Results for “Novel”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

A novel 13,600,000
The Novel 13,600,000
Novel Books 1,220,000
American Novel 1,220,000
Online Novel 550,000
Romance Novel 368,000
Fiction Novel 368,000
Best Novel 301,000
Free Novel 368,000
Romantic Novel 165,000
Novel Writing 135,000
Pandigital Novel (An iPad like eReader) 90,500
Fantasy Novel 40,500
Novel Reviews 40,500
Historical Novel 40,500
Vampire Novel 33,100

Top Results for the word, “Adult Readers”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

Book Club 1,220,000
Books for Young Adults 135,000
Books for Girls 368,000
Books for Teens 110,000
Adult Novels 110,000

Top Search Results for “Reading Books”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

How to read a book 1,220,000
Reading Books on line 201,000
Reading Books for Free 135,000
Where to read books online 450,000
Online Reading Books 246,000
Read Books 1,220,000


Pick out your keywords or look some up on the Google Tools page and find some unique to your book.  Look up things like Science Fiction or Chick-Lit and see what you get.  This will take awhile since you’ll be trying different words and combinations of phrases.  That’s fine, take your time and next week, we’ll put those keywords to use.