Indie Authors SEO to Sell Ebooks

Indie Authors SEO to sell ebooksFor self-published Indie authors, the awareness of how SEO tidbits will sell ebooks (or paperbacks) is often lacking, especially at big retailers like Amazon. This diminishes the chance of success for many Indies, since on-page SEO factors at major book retailers is vital to sales. All the little SEO (search engine optimization) elements at your book’s online retailer make a huge difference between coming up in searches or not at all. This is true whether the book is already published or just about to come out, since steps can be taken to rectify either situation.

SEO for books? you might ask. Absolutely. You may not think of an online bookseller as a search engine, but Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords and the major retailers each have search boxes at their sites designed to put customers and products together.

In fact, guess the 2nd largest search engine in the world after Google? It’s not Yahoo or Bing, but YouTube. People enter words describing the videos they want and YouTube delivers. Amazon, for example, works exactly the same way when someone looks for a book by subject matter, genre or even author. It’s time to think SEO for your books, and there are several things you can do to help.

Very briefly, we need to discuss the best way to determine keywords for your books, and then we’ll discuss where to put them. If you don’t regularly use Google’s Keyword Tool External (, then consider getting to know it. There you can input all sorts of words and phrases, and get results on how commonly they’re searched. Google will also come up with its own list of similar terms that will often be better than your first choices. Pay special attention to similar words like adventure fiction or adventure novel, to see which has higher results. Same goes for things like sci-fi, scifi, or science fiction. Surprisingly, small things like singular or plural in addiction or addictions can have a big difference on search popularity. The keywords to describe your book should include both genre and subject matter. Make sure these are terms that are actually being searched. It makes no sense to have a phrase like 47th artillery brigade if no one is searching for that. If it comes up as a zero on Keyword Tool External, it will probably be a zero at a book retailer too. Once you come up with a list of ten or more SEO terms for your book, you’ll be ready to insert them into a few places.

Let’s start with the title, especially for those who haven’t published yet. Typically non-fiction and especially How-To books are perfect for using titles that are essentially search words, like Best Fly Fishing in Idaho or How to Lose Weight Fast. Titles like that will naturally come up high on Amazon results for people browsing by subject matter. Unfortunately most novels are less likely to, but they can have search-friendly titles or rely on a subtitle’s help. It’s the author’s choice, but it should be seriously considered since the title is the most important element to search engines at book sellers. Perhaps your novel could have an assisting subtitle like, Lingering Doubts: Murder in the Caribbean. Sure, it may not be what you originally wanted in the title, but a small subtitle helper like that will bring plenty of browsers to your book who otherwise might never have seen it.

Next comes the description. This is where you want to get all of the keywords out, making the paragraphs read pleasantly while sprinkling descriptive terms throughout, like historical romance, abuse, addiction, lottery winnersteenage drama, mystery and more. Some of these words are genre related; some are subject related. It’s smart to consider proximity for your most important keywords. Get them out in the earliest part of the description within the first sentence. Word this area with the biggies coming out quickly and the lower priority terms sprinkled in later. For example, Teenage drama gets intense when Stella realizes her best friend’s addiction to drugs is beyond abuse, it’s playing with death…

The book retailers will also ask for Categories and Tags/Keywords for your book. This will vary from retailers as will the choices. It’s a fairly simply thing to identify two to five categories depending on the site. Also use as many tags/keywords as they’ll allow from highest to lowest priority. Smashwords and Barnes & Noble handle this very similarly, while Amazon allows one other bonus feature.

Amazon lets customers (including the author provided she/he has ever made an Amazon purchase) add a Product Tag to the book’s description page. This is true for all formats, both ebooks and print. With Product Tags any one person can add up to fifteen descriptive tags, or they can click on existing tags and even agree/disagree with them. These tags should be thought of as keywords, and you should use the best fifteen to get the ball rolling. Once in place, the tags can help with browsers looking for books by Product Tags. The more you have in a category, the better. Click here to see the most popular tags at Amazon –  There are even forums on Facebook, Goodreads, Authonomy and more for tagging assistance (getting others to add tags for you) but not at Amazon as they frown on tagging parties. Many authors use their own name as a tag or keyword, but that seems like a waste since their name should come up high in a search already just for being listed as the author.

These little SEO tips will dramatically increase your book’s search-ability. Search engine optimization is about doing lots of small things wisely, which collectively adds up to make a huge difference.

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Got Blog SEO? Make Google, Yahoo and Bing Love You

blog seoBlog SEO, do you have it? Do you think about SEO for blogs whenever you make a post? If not, you’re likely missing out on a ton of potential internet traffic over time. This is EASY to do, plus valuable info for Indie authors and anyone marketing themselves online.

Seems like everyone has a blog these days, and rightfully so since it’s the best way for perfect strangers from all over the world to find you and your products/ebooks/etc. What percentage of owners really know how to utilize SEO (search engine optimization) to their benefit? Probably not many as there are so many companies charging arms and legs to help small website owners do a better job attracting Google, Yahoo and Bing, and thus all those perfect strangers. They’ve contacted you, right? The companies charging arms and legs to do this for you? Seems like a daily thing for me, we can help your website get more exposure with our proven SEO tips… Oh brother, just another form of spam.

Way, way back in the old days of the internet (a few years ago), that would have been tempting. During my first posts at another blogging site, the phrase stumbling around in the dark was a good way to describe my methods. Blogging was still a new entity and I really had no idea what I was doing. My concept was to get something about my books, anything really, out on the internet. Yes, the posts were always on my subjects of interest, but really it was just about saying something so my voice was happily among the zillions of others speaking to nobody in particular over cyberspace.

Fortunately those days are over. Why? Because the blog SEO secret has revealed itself to me. Now I understand gads more about SEO for blogs and how to say something that will get heard by readers and by, ta-da, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s a little secret, EASY to do, known by some and not known by many, that will make a huge difference in traffic over time. Here’s what to do before you blog on any subject.

Step 1 – Make a list of potential keywords and phrases that describe your post and what some perfect stranger might potentially type into a search engine. This is where the magic happens. This is the step that separates the wise blogger from the not-so-wise. If you don’t have great keywords targeted to relevant customers, you may as well be blogging offline.

seo for blogsFor example, let’s say your specialty is writing novels based on spiritual subjects, and your blog post is about those novels. What are the terms that come to mind, the terms which will get used in the blog heading, the text body and perhaps some images that accompany the post? Spiritual books, spiritual novels, new age books, and new age novels, are a very short list of examples for some terms that describe your subject matter. These all seem like good choices. Could whichever one you choose really make a big difference? The answer will surprise you.

Step 2 – Research those keywords on your list. Google has a great and free program called Keyword Tool External. This is a must, in my opinion, no matter what you’re doing online, whether it’s making a blog post, creating a new website or even coming up with a title for your book. This program will allow you to type in these individual keywords or phrases and get results on which ones are being searched the most and how much competition they have from other advertisers. Ideally, you can zero in on keywords with the maximum number of searches that don’t have high competition from advertisers. Ideally, the right keywords will help thousands of people from all over the world to find you.

Back to our example. Keyword tool external shows these results in Global Monthly Searches and Level of Competition for our search terms:

Spiritual books – 27,100 Global Monthly Searches, average Competition.

Spiritual novels – 3,600 Global Monthly Searches, low Competition.

New age books – 8,100 Global Monthly Searches, low-average Competition.

New age novels – 320 Global Monthly Searches, low Competition.

Metaphysical books – 5,400 Global Monthly Searches, low-average Competition.

This list could be much longer with ideas, but these few are enough to point out how slight variations in wording can result in huge differences in amount of people searching. Even though “novels” is a bit more descriptive than “books,” it seems like a no-brainer to choose “books” in the description than “novels” and to choose “spiritual” followed by “new age” and lastly, “metaphysical” or something like it.

You can play around with the parameters of the Keyword Tool External program and even peruse suggestions that Google will list for you in the results.

Step 3 – Insert the chosen keywords tastefully into everything you write. Put them in your blog’s headline, in the text body, in the categories/labels/tags, even in alternative text for any images you may use to accompany the post. The word tastefully comes to mind as opposed to keyword stuffing, which is overusing them and can get you into trouble with some search engines. Use your keywords without overusing them, keep the reading pleasant. Once in the heading, once in varied ways in categories/labels/tags, once in alternative text and a few times in the text body.

Step 4 – In the future, you should often check which terms people have used to find your blog, assuming the blog host keeps stats for that. Test out those terms by typing the keywords into a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Scroll through the list until your blog entry comes up, then click on that entry and click on some other links within it. That tells the search engines your listing has quality content which made the searchers happy. If you can do this from locations other than your own home, like when traveling, all the better.

This little tip will work wonders over time.

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SlingWords Post – Indie Authors: Better Keywords Sell More Books

I was honored to be guest poster today on a great blog called SlingWords. You can read the brief post (500 words) on learning to use keywords more wisely, especially designed for Indie authors who want to sell ebooks.

Click here for the home page of How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.
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Smart Keyword Research Comes First

Excerpt from the book, Get On Google Front Page

keyword researchKeywords are essential to help search engines link your sites and books to certain words, terms or phrases. Keywords can be individual words like “diet” or “weight loss,” a set of words like “healthy weight loss,” or even phrases containing many words such as “eat all you want and still lose weight.” This is also the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords, or the difference between targeting broad markets under heavy competition with other advertisers versus niche markets with less competition. It’s best to add keywords (both short-tail and long) to every site, blog, URL, title, article and location that has boxes for them, keywords that describe the content of what your site is about. But before we get into the details of how and where to insert keywords, we’re going to discuss at length how to discover which are your very best keywords.

Your very best keywords describe your website (and book’s) content and are being searched by lots of people with relatively low competition.

Okay, that was a mouthful but true. Certain keywords will only help if people are actually searching for them, and your site is relevant to that subject, and (hopefully) there is not a ton of competition. If the competition is low, then you’re golden and the climb to the front page can be quick. If the competition is high, you can still get to the top but it will take great SEO habits and more time.

Read the free Authonomy chapter here on this subject.

Read the first several chapters of this book’s free sample.

Get On Google Front PageAmazon US paperback and ebookPDF version handy with links for your computer

Amazon UK paperbackUK ebook

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