Before starting to write and self-publish a book, ask yourself, What are the keywords & phrases my ideal readers are likely to use searching for information online?
Although it’s nice to think about your book on display at your local Barnes & Noble bookstore, most of your book’s success depends on how easy it is for prospective readers to discover it while searching for information online.
It’s never too early to start thinking about a keyword strategy
Keywords are the words or phrases your ideal readers are likely to use searching for information that can help them solve their problems or achieve their goals.
More and more books are sold online each year. Increasingly, books sold in stores are often discovered and researched online before purchasing from a local bookstore.
Keywords at work
Suppose you’re writing a book describing a do-it-yourself solution to water in the basement. Consider these 2 scenarios:
- Best case scenario. The title of your book shows up in the first page of search results when readers search for get rid of water in my basement or fix wet basement.
- Worst case scenario. Your book’s title doesn’t show up until page 10 or 11 of search results, where it’s unlikely to be noticed by all but the most dedicated searchers. (Few searchers explore beyond the third page.)
Most authors wait until it’s too late to begin searching for the right keywords and key phrases, often waiting until after they have chosen a book title and subtitle.
Successful authors, however, start as early as possible. Their keyword research plays an important role in choosing their book’s title and subtitle.
Where to begin your search for the right keywords
Your search for the right keywords is likely to be an on-going process; keywords play a role at every step involved in planning, writing, marketing, and profiting from your book. Here are some ideas to get you started in the right direction.
- Google. Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool makes it easy to explore different terms and phrases. Enter a word or phrase, i.e., water in basement, and Google will not only display the number of monthly searches, but also suggest hundreds of closely-related phrases. You can then click the various keywords to explore further.
- Amazon.com. Another valuable source of keyword information is to search for various words or phrases associated with your book topic on Amazon.com and notice the book titles that show up. Notice the different titles that sometimes appear as you broaden or narrow the search terms. This is a great way to preview your book’s competition as early as possible. (Tip: before searching, specify books in the search bar, to limit the results displayed.)
- Blogs. An easy way to take your keyword search a little deeper is to start by doing a Google search on a term like waterproof basement+blog. This will display a list of blogs that deal with waterproof basements. In many cases, when you visit the blogs, and explore the variety of posts on them, you will be able to see the keywords associated with each post.
- Article portals. Article portals, like ezinearticles.com, offer another opportunity for you to explore the types of articles associated with different keywords and phrases. Changing just a few words in the search term may reveal significantly different articles.
- Website traffic. If you already have a blog or website, you may already know about Google Analytics. Google Analytics displays your website visitors’ origins and behavior on your site. You can can find out where your website traffic is coming from, i.e., search engines, referring sites, or direct entry of your URL. If your traffic is coming from search engines, you can analyze the search engine terms that attracted visitors. Similar programs from other sources permit you to discover the keywords that attract traffic to other websites, like similar, competing books.
These are just a few of the keyword techniques and tools that will contribute to your ability to successfully market and promote your book by choosing the right words for your book title and marketing copy.
This is the 18th in a series of 99 questions, ideas, and tips that can put you on the path to writing and publishing success.
Asking questions is the easiest way to familiarize yourself with the steps involved in writing and self-publishing a book to build your personal brand.
Each question opens the door to fresh insights and new options. Each answer helps you clarify your objectives, learn more about your readers and competition, and takes you one step closer to a personalized book marketing and profiting plan.
Get a head start on writing and self-publishing success by downloading my (currently) free workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before Starting to Write & Self-Publish a Brand-Building Book. It will save you time and help you avoid false starts and wasted effort.
To learn more about writing and self-publishing a brand-building book, you can review earlier posts in this series, share your concerns about choosing keywords below, or ask me questions using my online form.