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How Keywords, Categories, and Amazon’s Algorithms Help You Sell More Books

How Keywords, Categories, and Amazon’s Algorithms Help You Sell More Books

Amazon can help you sell more books — if you know how to take advantage of its features. Amazon uses an algorithm, similar to Google and Bing. Think of Amazon as a giant search engine: when readers conduct a search on the site, it alerts Amazon’s algorithms. Keyword searches, category searches, or an increase in book sales that extends beyond 48 hours, can propel your book to the top spot in searches and recommended buy lists. How can you make this happen? Build out your Amazon book page and Amazon Author Central Page, and strategically use keywords, book pricing, and categories. Here’s how:

Keywords

If you type a keyword into Amazon’s search bar, the site offers feedback on suggested keywords based on recent consumer searches. For instance, when I searched the term “selling books” the site bounced back the popular search: “selling books on Amazon,” so that’s what I included in my title: Selling Books by the Truckload on Amazon. Before I decided on the title for the book, I conducted a keyword search on Amazon and reviewed the titles that appeared in the results. You can search Amazon for keyword strings, or even just a single word and see what pops up, though the more you can focus on your market the better. So, “business marketing” would be better than just typing in “business.” You can use a keyword search to create your book title, and for your book description. Type in a single keyword. For a cookbook, you would type the word “cooking” into the Amazon search bar — results will include phrases such as “cooking for one” and “cooking for two.” Those are the keywords you can use in your book title, subtitle, or description. It’s a good idea to do a search for each keyword associated with your book. If you really want to go further, search for the same keywords on Google, and keyword search sites like ubersuggest.org.

Categories

Book categories are often misunderstood. In this case, bigger is not better. Select the smallest category possible in order to be competitive and give your book a better chance of reaching the top of its category. One author I worked with had a romance novel and hoped to dominate the contemporary romance category. But there was too much competition in such a broad category, so I recommended the dramas category, which was a sub (sub) category of contemporary romance, with only 81 other books in it. The move to dramas pinged Amazon’s algorithm, and, suddenly, the book was at the top of searches, recommended to readers, and appeared on the pages of other, high-profile romance books. You can search all Amazon categories here: http://www.amazon.com/-/b/?node=1000. Keyword selection is one of the most important ways to market your book. Selecting a small category helps your book stand out, and reaching the top 10 sale list attracts additional readers. There’s something about seeing a book that ranks #10 or #1 in its category that helps generate more sales. People like what other people like! A caveat on categories: Amazon does change category listings on a regular basis, so you’ll want to check in from time-to-time and make any necessary updates. Also, print and eBook categories are often different. Make sure you check both categories for your book, and update it if they aren’t the same.

Other Ways to Trigger Amazon

You can get your book noticed through eBook promotions, too. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing offers a total of five freebie days. To be successful, heavily promote your eBook during that period. It’s most effective to use two or three freebie days at a time, instead of all five days at once. Also experiment with your book’s price. Every six weeks, make the price higher or lower; at the same time, move your book into another category. You want to keep Amazon’s algorithm active when it comes to your book. Capitalize on these Amazon options to keep your book in front of readers. Experiment with keywords and categories, then delve into eBook promos and pricing. Let the changes catch on (perhaps over 7 to 10 days) and review the results. Is your book getting more visibility? If so, you’re on the right track; if not, go in and make some changes and give your book the exposure it deserves!

Penny Sansevieri

Penny Sansevieri

Penny C. Sansevieri is the CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. and is an adjunct professor at NYU. She is the author of 12 books including, "How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload" and "Red Hot Internet Publicity."
Penny Sansevieri
Penny Sansevieri
Penny Sansevieri

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