Two things I’m taking very seriously right now, are Amazon search results and Google search results for my upcoming novel. There are lots of ways to add keywords into your Amazon page, to increase the chances that someone on Amazon will discover your book, but it’s also crucial to Google your keywords and see what pops up.
When I search for “mermaid books” or “bestselling mermaid books” – which is the way I found other popular books in my genre – the sites that Google shows me are getting seen by everyone making similar queries.
The first couple results are from Goodreads, and they are lists of mermaid books. These lists are user-submitted; so you can add your own book to the list (if it’s really in the target genre, don’t cheat!). And on the lists I looked at, the first several had almost 200 votes, but after 10th place it was only 50 votes.
That means, when the time is right, I can put my book there and ask my audience to vote for my book. I can make a contest out of it and get to #1 on that slot. That’s huge for me (and pretty easy to do compared to so much other stuff that doesn’t work!).
Then there’s Alibris… so if I was just depending on Google search results, I might want to consider getting my books there. But, since Alibris is actually a very small market, I prefer to focus all my sales on one platform (Amazon) to keep my rank high.
After that I get:
- Emily Windsnap: Three Swishy Mermaid Tales
- Tiniest Mermaid: Laura Garnham – Amazon.com
- The Mermaid’s Curse (California Mermaids Book 1)
- The Book of Mermaids: Patricia Saxton
Those are individual books ON Amazon, whose pages are ranking well in Google. So I need to analyze those sites and see why they’re ranking so well.
Answer: They have “mermaid” in the title, at least two “mermaids” in the description. Some also have a “mermaid” in bold, or <h2> tags.
Then I’ll do the same thing for a few more keywords:
- best YA mermaid romance
- best young adult mermaid book
A big mistake most authors make is choosing a title and series marker without adding keywords. For example, mine would be “Shearwater: Book One in the Ocean Depths Series”. But nobody is going to search for my book or series by name. I want to get found accidentally. So I changed it to “Shearwater, Part One: An Ocean Depths Mermaid Romance.”
You don’t want to stuff it so full of keywords it looks ridiculous, but on the other hand, getting found is more important than being a bit strange, as long as it doesn’t turn off readers.
You should also put your keywords in <h2> tags and <b> tags in your book description.
Google Image Search
Then I’ll also search for those terms using Google’s image search – to see what book covers come up (and make sure mine is one of them; most authors don’t add “alt” text on their images so they’re search-friendly).
You can’t nail ALL the keywords, so you have to be choosy. I could target “Paranormal Romance” but there would be millions of results. With Mermaid books, there are maybe a hundred decent ones a year, and ten that do pretty well (and at much lower numbers than other subgenres, like vampires.)
But make sure you find the right keywords, the ones readers are actually using to find your book. They won’t search for the title, or your author name, so MAKE SURE you have the genre tag or title keywords, both in the subtitle and the description, a lot.
Also – you can help Google rank your book’s Amazon page by building backlinks with anchor text (like I did at the top of this post… keyword search = Young Adult Mermaid Novel, and I’m linking it straight to my Amazon page.
For each of my books, I’ll also make a recommended list of other books in my genre: this helps boost my “also boughts” because I’m suggesting the books I want my book to be associated with, and also makes it easier to rank a page for that keyword.
For example, if I can’t rank my Amazon page up high on Google, at least I can rank a page on my blog, for example, I made this page on my fiction blog:
32 MAGICAL MERMAID NOVELS FOR YOUNG ADULT READERS WHO ENJOY PARANORMAL ROMANCE
That’s a static page with a whole bunch of recommended mermaid books, and a whole bunch of images with keyword-rich ‘alt’ tags; I’m linking to it from this site, which has more site authority.
Since “mermaid novels” isn’t exactly a competitive keyword search term, it should be much easier for that page to rank well on Google (as opposed to something much more competitive, like “paranormal romance” or “urban fantasy.”)
And since I’m promoting other author’s books (not my own!), it will be seen as helpful, authentic content and is more like to get shared and linked to.
Choose keywords that aren’t too general, but that people are still searching for. “Mermaids” is too broad, I’d never rank for that. But “young adult mermaid novels” or “paranormal romance mermaid books” or something like that, I have a pretty good chance… which means every time somebody searches for those on Google, my page might show up on Google.
I’ll do that for all my books, in all major YA categories, and double down by making videos for YouTube, turning them into powerpoint presentations for SlideShare, and contacting the authors to let them know I’ve included them.
It’s a lot of work, sure – and it won’t guarantee sales if your books aren’t well received by readers, but that’s a different topic entirely…
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I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.
Derek, do you think it’s more valuable to create a post on your own site for “best mermaid books,” or to try and get a guest post on a larger site for the same keywords?
Both if you can…. I’d try to guest post and link back to my site, or book if they let you. Bigger, established sites will rank quicker. So if you got that posted on a blog about mermaid fiction, it would rank high immediately. But actually, there isn’t much competition for some keywords (my blog ranks on the first page of google for “how do mermaids have sex” because there aren’t many people writing articles about that). I should do a lot more guest posting, I just hate asking permission and following rules, it’s easier to build up my own sites.
Thank you – this explains the process in terms I can understand. I’ve heard about keywords, but hadn’t really thought much about them until I read this.
I wrote a book about the opiate epidemic which the story needs to be told. I did not know anything about “search terms” etc. I should have included a subtitle Opiate Epidemic. But the book is published now. 5 star reviews but I am not able to tap into that amazon audience searching for books about the opiate epidemic?