Episode 26 – Keywords, Accountability and BookBub UK

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Bryan, the bright-eyed optimist, and Jim, the grizzled veteran, went toe-to-toe on Amazon keyword SEO in the latest installment of the show. They also discussed tips on early readers and creating better infographics. The five news stories focused on ideas for content creation, how to disrupt the dinosaurs of retail, improving the self-publishing industry, BookBub’s expansion into the U.K. and advice from bestselling author Bella Andre. Bryan also discussed the success of his first finished novel, and how his 5-6 unfinished novels helped to pave the way for “overnight” success. This week’s Question of the Week is: Have you used keywords to improve your on-page Amazon SEO? If so, have you noticed an increase in sales or free downloads?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • Ways our listeners are using Pinterest to find success
  • How Bryan sold 3,000 copies of his first novel
  • Why you should give you book away to early readers
  • The steps to creating more effective infographics
  • Why keywords may mean more than getting into extra categories
  • How to apply Anil Dash’s blogging advice to other mediums
  • The ways readers are consuming and buying content
  • Multiple opinions on how you can raise the bar for indie publishing
  • What BookBub’s expansion means for you
  • Advice on writing, focus and promotion from Bella Andre
Question of the Week: Have you used keywords to improve your on-page Amazon SEO? If so, have you noticed an increase in sales or free downloads?

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  • Lavie Margolin

    I do believe that SEO has helped my book’s visibility. If someone is using the Amazon search bar and seeking a topic of interest, how will they find the book if it is not described correctly?

    I’ve written 6 books and there were several factors why my most recent one took off more than the others but I believe the title was a key. When people are searching for help with interviewing, my title Winning Answers to 500 Interviews Questions is more likely to come up than if I had written a mysterious title. For example, my previous book was called The LinkedIn Butterfly Effect- I thought it was mysterious and appealing.

    If I could do that one over again (and I will!), I would make it a title that relates to keywords people would look for related to LinkedIn.

    p.s. Penny’s books are great- especially Red Hot Internet Publicity.

    • Thanks for the comment Lavie. I’m looking for proof that it affects the algorithm though. In other words, proof that having a keyword in your title makes it show up over other books. Probably the algo is a million things like Google’s, and maybe keyword is part of that, but if so, a very small part. I just think that other factors play in more, specifically, sales.

      • Keywords in the title DEFINTELY do make things show up, but the algo weights keywords lower than sales I think. I noticed an immediate surge when I put phrases in my 7 kdp dashboard keyword box, instead of single words for example

        • Bryan

          But the surge was still just in the freebies, right Mark?

          • Yes. I saw an immediate increase in free downloads on all my permafree books. I have 4 series running. I have one in KU so not permafree there, but the others all have book 1 free. As soon as I reworked my blurbs, 7 kdp keywords, and series titles, the downloads went back up. I haven’t seen the same result with paid.

            Regarding the kdp keywords: I use them mostly to get the categories that I want, but I was still able to work with them. Let’s say “soldier” is a keyword to get a category. I can add words to that like “free soldier kindle books” (just an example)

            Type something in at Amazon and take note of the suggestions would be my advice. Use the ones that are relevant to your book AND that have the word you NEED for your category. Don’t use words that have nothing to do with your books. You’ll just annoy people and it won’t lead to sales.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Lavie. I’ve had the same experience with my How to Work For Yourself book. I’ll have to read Red Hot, it’s been on my list for a while.

  • Amazon SEO has definitely improved my flagging permafree downloads, but I haven’t seen any benefit on the paid side. We all know that good keyword rich blurbs are key on Google Play, and Kobo for certain. It should be no surprise that Amazon’s engine benefits from it as well, but why free books respond to it and paid don’t seem to (in science fiction at least) is puzzling. Perhaps they DO respond, but the ocean of books is so deep that I don’t see my titles rise? Who knows!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Mark. I agree, Germany is probably next. We need to find some good data on free book download increases for Jim :).

  • Thanks so much for including my post on the importance of early readers! I really can’t stress enough having that pool of early reviews ready to roll when your book releases. Bottom line–buzz gets moving faster when people have read/reviewed your book, or are ready to have you guest blog, etc. Those who enjoyed it will be ready to back/post it when it goes live.

    On keywords: I will say I’ve changed up my categories/keywords on Amazon (we’re talking 30 times or more on one book) and it CAN bump your book onto certain lists, depending on the category/keyword mesh. And when you’re on lists, your book is more noticeable (I think!).

    • Bryan

      It was a great article, Heather! 30 times, eh? Now that’s dedication :).

  • Crissy Moss

    The only keywords I’ve had any success with were the KDP keywords to help you get your books into the proper category: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A200PDGPEIQX41
    I write fiction though and placing your book in the proper place so it can rank is really important.

    I think that key words would help more with google searches for books, but you would get just as much value if you just describe your books well instead of trying to shoe horn in key words and SEO that might not even matter.

    • Bryan

      Good points, Crissy. Thanks!

  • Kim Smith

    SEO, keywords, categories OH MY! I am so lost. To figure out how to do better with this on Amazon, I need a seeing eye dog.

    • Bryan

      Check out David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible.

  • Perry Constantine

    Great episode, as always.

    Regarding Jim’s question if you can have an Amazon US account if you’re in the UK or another country, the answer is yes. Your Amazon account should work on all the stores, but you can’t always get everything that’s available on those stores. At least as far as physical products go. I used to buy DVDs from Amazon US and ship them to my home in Japan, because DVDs come out earlier in the States and are about half the price as they are in Japan. But sometimes, I would get a message saying, “this product cannot be shipped to your location.” Lots of marketplace sellers also won’t ship overseas.

    I also bought a Kindle from the US store before they came to Japan and my Kindle is linked to the US store, but I pay with a Japanese credit card and have never had a problem. My Kindle has asked me to switch to the Japan store a few times, but I always refuse so I can give indie authors the full 70% royalty they deserve (Amazon JP only pays out 35%, regardless of price, unless you’re in Select).

    There are also some things that don’t show up for me even on the US store. For example, if I view a book on the US store that’s in Select, I won’t have the little “Read on Kindle Unlimited for free” thing.

    So the long answer is yes, your Amazon account does work in multiple stores, but with some caveats. Amazon always knows where you’re shopping from (unless you use a VPN), and when I go to the home page, there’s a little “Shopping from Japan? Click here to go to the Amazon JP store” link in the top corner.