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Amazon Keyword Basics For Authors

Amazon Keyword Basics For Authors is the first episode in our our two part series of Anne Hagan Presents Killing It With Keywords. In this series we talk about getting your keywords right when you are publishing your book to Amazon.

Listen to this podcast here

Sheena is joined by author Anne Hagan as she explains:

  • What are Amazon keywords and why are they important?
  • How do you find the right keywords for your book?
  • How does Amazon differ from Google in terms of keywords?
  • 11 tips and tricks to get the most from your keywords?

Tools And Links Mentioned

KDP Rocket 

Kindle Samurai 

Google Keyword Tool 

Amazon Tutorial on Keywords 

Categories on Amazon to get into using keywords 

Steel City Confidential by Anne Hagan

Publisher Jug Run Press LLC


Clients hide things from their lawyers all the time. Pam Wilson makes it an art form.

Pam’s been on the run from the law for years and she was getting away with it. The statute of limitations ran out on most of her crimes. For her spouse Charlotte? Not so much. Though they were aging, they looked forward to enjoying their golden years and, hopefully, forgetting about the past.

Life got complicated when Charlotte became gravely ill, their daughter got pregnant with the child of a married man…a married man someone took shots at from a rare motorcycle Pam happens to own. When the man was shot again and killed in his office at Pitt a couple of weeks later, the police found all signs pointing to Pam. 

Rochelle ‘Ro’ Rabinowitz, a second-generation Pittsburgh lawyer, and her little firm take on Pam’s case pro-bono. Ro thinks it’s a slam dunk for the defense and hands the case off to her new associate and – she hopes – her future partner in the firm, Dominique, to get her feet wet in a courtroom. Clients are never completely honest with their lawyers and Ro and Dominque soon learn this one is no exception.

Slam dunk? More like a pipe dream…

Steel City Confidential by Anne Hagan

When you use the links in this podcast and buy within 24 hours of clicking then we get a small commission that helps us run the site and it costs you nothing extra


please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.

[Music] all right welcome to the key to key words with Anne Hagan I’m Sheena and I’m joined today by the fantastic anything with auth extraordinaire and keyword genius and she’s going to take us through some also things about Amazon and keywords why they’re important how to use them and how to generally be a keyword Rockstar and thank you for joining me today thank you for having me okay so I’m going to start with the basic what Amazon keywords and why are they important forces there are two basic pieces you know what they are keywords are the words and phrases readers type in the Amazon into their search bar to find a product like a book second at the simplest level the the words and phrases a product seller like an author or publisher uses to describe what they wish to sell it goes much deeper than that they’re important from the product provider perspective the publisher of the author because without them the only things amazon has to go on to show you your item to a prospective buyer is the title that you give it the product description that you provide for it a category or the categories they place the book in for booksellers that can work very well for nonfiction because a nonfiction writers titled and their subtitle pretty often carry a lot of keywords right within those it gives them a lot of weight for nonfiction and their description is typically keyword but it doesn’t work quite the same for fiction writers up if it works at all because our titles typically only allude to what the the content of the book is and description is often very cryptic because you don’t want to get the story away it’s just a teaser for the story so you know we have to use keywords to kind of drive readers to our books because the description and the title aren’t going to do that on the line so let’s stop for a minute and look at an example so nonfiction say we were writing a book about this podcast we’d say we’d call it to use keywords to sell your book for example and that in itself is great keywords you know for anybody looking for that topic but if you were selling your book we’re selling the first in the morel vole mysteries and that I’m not gonna necessarily search for that if I’m looking for a great mystery correct yeah you’re going to search for mysteries by lesbian authors or lesbian the streets or you know bisexual this treatise or what-have-you you’re going to put in a search string that that’s related to what specifically you’re looking for or you may even use an author name or part of a title if you know it but you know you’re not going to find my book by you know its title when it’s description aren’t going to have keywords in absolutely so this is why it’s so important for keywords especially for fiction authors here’s a question that you mentioned that keywords are built into the titles and subtitles and product descriptions often so does that mean we don’t necessarily want to overlap the titles the product descriptions and the keywords does that mean we need to have different things in all of those sectors it doesn’t help a fiction author really to have keywords in any of those things for a nonfiction author you don’t want to use the same keywords over and over in your title your subtitle your description your categories it’s because it’s redundant we’ll get into it deeper as we get into keywords but but basically you don’t want to use the same ones over and over again because you’re wasting space you know like and you want readers to find you as many ways as possible so you need to use as many keywords as possible and having everything the same doesn’t help so it’s not like Google where if you tell Google that this article is about XYZ you have to tell it three or four times it’s about XYZ you have to do it at a hitting you have to make sure it’s in your main text so Amazon does not work like Google in that robot not at all not at all it’s completely different yes I get what you’re saying no no Google looks for relevance and they find relevance by repetition and they don’t want too much repetition because I’d spam but they want to make sure when we’re presenting an article to someone that the keywords within that have a certain what they call density and that means that that article was relevant to what that searcher was looking for Amazon works completely differently they’re trying to present as many options to a reader as possible and if you’re repeating the same thing over and over again that’s not necessarily what that readers looking for if they don’t type those exact words in so they might not have mind you is relevant Amazon’s are not necessarily a smart as googling the algorithm to equate one phrase with another correct all right so how do you find the right keywords for your book then this is the mission I think most people struggle with this this is the learning question there are multiple ways you could do this and there are multiple factors that play into that first of all there are your categories when you load up a book to Amazon or really to any retailer you typically get to pick two categories they should be the ones that best fit your book but the reasons you might choose different ones and and we’ll get into that in a little bit first if your book is a lesbian romance story or a novel it’s a no greater to choose that as one of your categories because romances are the hottest sellers and women loving women fiction if you’re writing something like shape-shift of crime queer characters LGBT category choices might not be the best fit might severely limit your there’s a whole world of sci-fi in fantasy categories out there that may be a far better fit with readers that are far more used to and familiar with queer characters second the some categories have less competition than others so it’s conceivably easier to get a book ranked in the top 100 where it has more visibility to readers especially on Amazon in such a category and I’ll give you an example I recently published a weaboo thriller there’s a prime and the overall legal thriller category you can list a book there and not go any further but if you did that you’d be competing against every single legal thriller on Amazon from a category level perspective your keywords would have to be spot-on if you want your books to ever even be seen by readers and you know that’s my first one yes I have a lot of books it’s it’s the first one so it’s not going to do very well in that broader category let’s say though that you’re legal thriller has a specific theme vigilante justices is kind of a hot trending topic right now financial funds that sort of things these are what Amazon calls deep sub categories some of the other retailers have categories like that as well there’s far less competition for books when you get in categories down deep down below those baying header categories but though parent categories that’s an overview of how categories work for you when a reader searches obviously they’re going to be drawn into specific categories of books and so you really need to make sure before you even get to keywords that you categorize your book in the best places for it to the sound before we talk about how to find keywords we need to talk about what Amazon gives us to work with and how Amazon uses what they give us to work best when you list a book via Kindle direct publishing Amazon gives you seven boxes from your keyboard there are a lot of people that think these boxes are from one word or one string of words and that’s very limiting but what a lot of authors don’t know what some publishers don’t realize that those seven boxes with fifty characters including spaces you should try and use all of them all fifty every space think of Amazon like a search engine not like a retail on this case when it comes to presenting products to a potential violent buyer it’s like we were talking before all about relevance it’s search engine uses the algorithm Amazon has named a nine in its current version the algorithm purses those blocks looking for words and strings of words that readers will type into the search bar now a nine gives more weight to exact match strings like lesbian wolf shapeshifter for example if you’ve got all of that in one box but those three words can actually appear anywhere among the seven boxes and the Amazon search engine will find them so the first thing we need to think about is fitting as many different terms and there as possible to describe her books and to try not to repeat any words if at all possible if you put in the keyword for example say women’s sleeps irate mystery so that’s a termite reviews you should also include detectives but it’s a waste to say women’s lose and then say women detectives when you’ve already used the ones taking up valuable real estate that you could use to get yet another keyword in and out of your amazon offers a basic tutorial and using keywords along with some helpful do’s and don’ts there’s a long URL that I can I can give you that you can give to your your listeners yeah let’s stick it in the show notes pay special attention to the do’s and to the debts to keep yourself in good good standing with Amazon specifically other retailers they basically will let you put in ten ten to twenty keywords or keyword phrases and those raises can be any length but they don’t have quite as much flexibility as Amazon they’re more traditional search like Google wiki search I found that 10 is about the average with most of the other retailers so you know but but that can be it can be a long string but understand that they’re going to parse kind of like Google Parsons you know it’s going to be exact so with them you want to find the best keyword phrases to use so you’ve got your seven boxes so say in books when you put women sleuths do you also put detective in that first books or do you put that in the second box like you can you can put up to 50 characters in a box so Lee you want to put as many in that first box as you can but be mindful and we’ll talk about how you find keywords as we go on be mindful of the phrases that you find that are high performing phrases you know things that readers type in a lot and try and keep those phrases together but you know women’s loose yes but then detectives and then you might have bisexual then you might have shapeshifters anyway and yet that might all fit in one box because you get 50 characters including spaces and Amazon does not require you to separate things with commas the space is all all that’s required and it will purse out of on that it will pick and choose out of all of that out of all seven boxes so in reality you have three hundred and fifty characters don’t even think of it as seven boxes anymore it’s 350 characters to get your words in jail if you find that people who are typing in both women detectives and woman sleuths is it worth putting woman in twice because you get the correct phrasing or is it not with the wasted space it’s typically not worth the wasted space if you have a lot of words that you can get in and as we get into think about how you find words you’ll see how many words you can potentially come up with that you know if you do this right you hit your 350 characters not repeating integers that’s kind of amazing and I imagine you get found much better then because you have much bits of search phrases correct where do we find keywords and how do we find keywords this is I imagine quite the Tosca okay well you know the the basic start of all of this is what’s your book about what are what are the themes in the book what’s the setting do any holidays play into your story start making a list of all of the things that a book is about and you know think of those things as potential keywords then go to Amazon pull up the Kindle Store specifically Kindle e-books it’s always better to search under Kindle because there’s a lot more Kindle books than there are paperback books in you would switch your search bar to Kindle Store leave the search bar blank and hit search in the left-hand column on Amazon’s home page choose Kindle e-books and then you know I typically choose a like the LGBT category and I’ll drill down to romance or mystery in that same left-hand column you’ll start to notice in that left-hand column on the Amazon home page that your choices get more specific as you drill down you’ll see things like characters settings those sorts of things and then specific terms under those those headings if you use those terms that show up in the left-hand column um you’ve drill down into like romance or history those are keywords that actually lead into categories for Amazon and if you use those specific words phrased exactly as they phrase them your books will show up in searches when readers search when ate when they click those things they go down to room a click they make like women’s news and all that you’ve used women’s loose as a keyword you’ve basically found a category that you can’t necessarily get to you know when you’re choosing your two categories so you you’re in a yet another category categories have more weight than simple search terms and keywords but like I said they can’t all be reached just by picking categories there are other categories on Amazon that you can’t get into except by using keywords and some of the LGBTQ categories are that way for example you can’t get into a category just by choosing from your two main categories a book and list of this bisexual unless you use bisexual as a keyword can’t you ask Amazon to put you in neither you can because Amazon will put you in up to ten but that requires you to find the string email Amazon tone this is the string this is my book this I wanted in this category wait for them to respond and all that where if in your seven key words your three hundred and fifty characters you put the word bisexual you’re in the category and readers are searching for books about bisexual characters so there’s a page on Amazon and we could put that in the show notes as well that gives you these these keywords for these hidden categories a transgendered books and all that also have specific keywords Amazon wants you to use to get books into that category that are available from right from the drill down list movie choosing the categories you’re listening to the lesbian talk-show the lesbian talk-show con you’ll have a podcast information now if we go backwards of that list that you made with keep words about your book once you’ve you’ve gone in and you’ve looked out that left-hand column and picked out some other things that are categories that are only reachable by bank you know using those keywords and that’s where they then you want to take your list of keywords you made that are specific about your book and start typing those things into the Amazon search bar see what amazon offers you with autocomplete what phrases it gives you there are phrases that readers type in the find books potentially like yours that will pop up with the most commonly typed one first here’s the drawback to that though you know most authors are readers and so we’re on Amazon all the time type it stuff in we’re looking at our competition all the time typing stuff in and all that well Amazon remembers everything about they know everything about everything that you’ve ever searched for if you’re using a browser like Chrome or Firefox and Safari go into incognito mode you start looking for keywords so it takes out your search history and just uses what the average reader is looking for the most common phrases for the average not for you as an author you as a reader they don’t keep them from showing you your own search history that is a great tip another tip is as you’re going in and you’re doing this let’s say you know your first keyword is lesbian type lesbian space-a see what it gives you must be in space B see what it gives you the the top thing that comes up may be something that’s very relevant to your mug but do this with every keyword that you thought of with your book and just see what else Amazon comes up with that readers are actually searching for and anything that’s relevant write it down the potential your sudden he words that’s intense work you get to spend like three days just finding keywords well there are some tools that actually make it easier and if you honestly can’t throw up 350 characters doing that and not sure about that stuff that you come up with you don’t know what are the best ones to use maybe you’ve got too much there are some tools that can help you parse that out and figure out what’s best to use or fill it out if you don’t have enough one of the ones that a lot of authors use is the Google AdWords tool Google lets people put ads on the website and they have a tool that tells you how relevant of something that you’re looking to use would be how relevant those keywords are how many searches there are on those on Google in any given month and so forth it’s not Amazon specific it’s designed to help people find keywords for Google AdWords but it’s free to use and Google gets a lot more searches than Amazon does that so you know that that you know it’s going to be a good tool to use to help you try and find some more words another tool that’s specific to Amazon to Kindle but that obviously you know translates over to what people would be searching for at the other retailers is Kindle samurai now it’s not very expensive it’s a $40 tool what’s on sale all the time for 20 bucks I think it’s like $19.99 for lifetime access and it works okay to find you additional keywords and to give you an idea of what your competition is for those keywords on Amazon it’s not so much it doesn’t like I said it works to find keywords for the other retailers but it doesn’t tell you what your competition looks like for those keywords on the other retailers and all that but you’ll find that if you find the things that work best for you on Amazon they’re gonna look great for you at Barnes & Noble for the dog and for Kobo and for Google and so forth I recommend using it to look up keywords you’ve already done up and then prioritize them by how much competition there is out there for them and then the last one and one that a lot of authors like I use is called KDP rocket it’s the most expensive it’s $99 right now for lifetime access the person that runs that day Dave Chesson I think is his name keeps saying that he’s taking it to a subscription model people that have it now or grandfathered in but once he takes it to a subscription model it’s going to cost quite a bit more but what that does is it has functionality that’s far beyond finding keywords to fill your boxes it gets expensive leased by people that you run Amazon ads for their boss and I I do that and we’ll talk about that one but the sponsor product strings of books that you see that are below books that you know people who have bought this book also but that that string of books that computers below a book well then underneath that are sponsored product books and people use Kindle or KTP rocket to find keywords to list their books as in those sponsored product ads and you know obviously if it works for that it’s the only one to help you find your 7 keywords as well so you gotta pay a little bit for it but you’ll know exactly what your competition for those keywords are and you can then use it for quite a bit of other things as well for those of you who have been furiously taking notes let’s just quickly recap so it’s Google Adwords the the keyword tool on Google Adwords it’s Kindle Samurai and KDP rocket will have links in the show notes and there are more than those three there are all sorts of companies out there those are the three best known most widely used by authors and ones that you use right cool ok so let’s look at the big search engine versus Emmas on so let’s look at Google versus Amazon in terms of keywords so without getting too technical about all of this because there’s a lot of programming and things are going into google keywords let’s give the listeners an overview so basically what you’re asking is how does Google differ from Amazon that’s exactly what I’m asking we touched a lot I’m part of that when we talked about how Amazon parses the seventh circuits Google doesn’t work at all the same way it looks for exact matches to what you type into their search box other than unlike Amazon it will look automatically look for the plural the word and will also tell you and think she’d misspelled something a lot of us use Google as a spellcheck or something and it will show you alternatives to the way that you spelled it they will not return matches in Google vault if it only finds part of your search thing unless nothing at all comes up for what you search long which is unlikely on Google or it doesn’t find more than a couple results the other thing that’s different with Google is you can use search syntax with them if you know it and if you don’t know what we mean by search syntax you can go into the advanced search function on Google and it will actually create that syntax for you I’ll give you a for example what I’m talking about if you put a phrase in Google that’s commonly combined with another word or words and you don’t want those words including you put a minus sign in front of the word and don’t want and Google search algorithm will eliminate that from the results that it returns to Amazon doesn’t do that you can’t use a negative keyword on Amazon in typical search and let me give you an example to make it a little bit simpler say I want to look up weather for cows they Newcastle I was I was born and raised in New Castle Pennsylvania I want to see what the weather looks like for all the New Castle’s but I don’t let Newcastle England let’s say just for today I don’t want your anything about it if you type in new space Castle space minus sign England with no space between the minus sign and England your results will come back with Google for weather for our new castle every new castle in the world but new castle it will it will just parse that out it’s that smart now we can talk all day about how Google works the most important thing to understand about it is this the categories you choose how your books are presented on Goodreads which is owned by Amazon and the better more descriptive your keywords are in this Amazon search boxes the better the chance you have of your books showing up in a google search and you do want Google to show the world your books don’t you does it though not all Amazon books appear on Google even if you’re searching for them true true and part of that is a pride of not getting your keywords build up as we talked about before Google searches for relevance if you’ve got one book out and you’ve basically put one or two words in each of those seven boxes and all that it’s going to no hard fun fun as you build up a body of work as you get better with keywords and that sort of thing Google will find me more and more no I have 20 books out Google doesn’t find all of them perfect but it finds most of them okay and so we’ve learned a lot today I’ve had keywords but let’s let’s go through some tips so what’s the most important most fundamental things to take away from today’s episode to get the most from your keywords well so now is on do’s and don’ts and of course most of them apply across the spectrum of the other retailers specific to Amazon use all 50 spaces in each of the seven boxes okay number two use exact phrases when you can but don’t repeat words and leave spaces 3 don’t waste spaces using total versions of words a 9 will find these four misspelled words a 9 again will find this four use Amazon’s keyword advice to get into categories you can’t reach by selecting categories 5 capitalization does not matter that’s a cross you can use all lower case six there is no need to use words already in your title or subtitle or series name and I don’t think that’s something that we actually covered today but if you if you’ve covered it in one of those three things you don’t have to put that keyword into your key ones also seven on Amazon don’t use any Amazon program names as keywords like Kindle unlimited K P KDP select excetera the book will be made unavailable for purchase until you correct issue and take those things out eight don’t use the names of other authors or the titles of other books no matter how similar they may be in those seven boxes false misleading for readers that can get your book taken off the shelf into the correct I don’t use any punctuation in your seven Amazon keywords separate words with spaces only and that applies together in Taylors too don’t use stop words like a and of the like you’re just wasting space easiness and that’s it’s very specific to a phrase that you want to use I Whitney’s though you’re wasting space and don’t use subjective claims like best or number one or temporary terms like me that is a great space to end our first episode I think and thank you for joining me today way can people find you online and what book should they be reading of yours today well the book that I is the book of my heart lately is the one that I recently published Steel City confidential is a legal thriller that Sheena and a reader kind of let’s say push to me a challenge them to write and that’s that’s the book of my heart it’s probably my favorite book of the books that I’ve written it’s got that unique backstory and a whole lot more to it and I’ll give you one hint about what it’s about and leave it at that and you can decide or not what if they’ll own beliefs lived what if they survived when they went over that Grand Canyon and that’s all I’ll say and it’s a fascinating read I’ve just started it so far I’m really loving the one curmudgeon dude ex-cop okay and wicked people find you online I my website is Anne Hagan author dot com and I’m on facebook twitter you name it on problem there you’ve been listening to Ann Hagan presents killing it with keywords I’m Sheena and I was joined today by the fabulous author Ann Hagan if you enjoyed this podcast and like what we do on the channel consider becoming a patron not only do you help us grow you also get fabulous exclusive content that’s all for this week