Using Keywords in Book Metadata

Metadata is used by search engines to connect searchers with content and products. Since search engines use keywords and phrases, it is the author’s task to select keywords that best describe their book so that their book can be found on the internet. Distributors, retailers, book buyers, and readers all use keywords. If your book is titled The Best Denver Kayaking and Canoeing Activities, and someone types Kayaking in Denver into their search engine, your book will be seen and a potential sale may result.

Focus on the following:

  • Create good keywords and phrases. Keywords can be a single word or a phrase. Thought needs to be given to the kinds of words or phrases that readers might enter into their search engine to find your book. Eliminate generic keywords, and use specific keywords instead. Only use keywords and phrases that apply to your book and avoid using popular keywords and phrases simply because they are popular. Perhaps your book is a recipe book with a focus on cooking meals for just one person, so a keyword phrase may be one-dish meals. Maybe you went on a safari in Africa and later decided to write a book on the best safaris to go on in Africa, so a keyword phrase might be top African safaris. Whatever your book is about, write down as many keywords and phrases you can think of, and then pick out the best phrases and keywords from your list and use them to write the book’s description.
  • Use free tools to do keyword research. Begin by using Google, or another web browser. Enter keywords and keyword phrases into the search engine and see what pops up. This will indicate to you the effectiveness of the keywords and phrases you have chosen to use. Modify keywords to see what impact it has. You can also enter your keywords and phrases into Amazon and if the terms you use do not return books that are like yours, try again with different keywords. You can also use Google Adwords to do keyword research. The overall idea is to test different keywords and phrases to determine which ones are the most effective.
  • On deciding which keywords to use, set about entering your keywords into your book’s metadata. Your publisher will be able to assist in this area because they will be entering the metadata before publishing your book. When setting up metadata avoid using quotes around the keywords, separate the keywords using semicolons, use as many as seven to eight keywords or phrases, and always include the book’s genre. Where possible, use keywords and keyword phrases in the book’s description.
  • Metadata keywords are part of a fixed algorithm used in search engine optimization (SEO), and that’s why you need to use the right ones in order to rank in search engine results. Use the same or similar keywords in your metadata that you use in other online promotional materials to create multiple instances of your book being the right fit for particular kinds of searches.

You owe it to yourself to use the right keywords in your metadata as part of a thoughtful, professional sales strategy. Return to Google or another search engine every few months to evaluate new trends, check popularity and volume, and to improve your keywords list.