Discoverability might sound like the newest trendy buzzword, but all it really means is making sure potential readers can find your books more easily. Readers are faced with thousands of new books each day and the best way to make sure yours is the one they buy is to put it on as many virtual shelves as possible. By using keyword research as a core part of your book marketing effort, you can do this on every venue that publishes your work.
Keyword research is the practice of ferreting out the correct keywords to propel your book or ebook onto as many pages of the store as possible. Many readers search by keywords alone, so getting onto more search lists means more eyes on your work and potentially more buyers. Using the right keywords can mean the difference between your book ranking on bestseller lists and it sinking into obscurity.
Your eventual best keywords will actually be strings of words, but you'll always begin with single words. Choose 5-10 words that best represent your book. For instance, if you were to choose keywords for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, you'd choose wizard, magic, children, UK (or England), and similar words. These are your base words that are used to discover your final successful keyword strings.
Amazon is the biggest book seller around, so begin there with your research. Go to the main page and find the search box. Type in the first base word on your list, followed by the letter A, like this: wizard a. A series of search strings will pop up such as wizard and witch and wizard apprentice Each second word will begin with the letter A. Click on the first string in the list that isn't an actual book title. Look in the upper left corner of the page to see how many books exist that are tied to this search string. You're looking for phrases that yield 750-1,000 books. Any more than that and your book will get lost in the pile. Less than that and you really don't have enough readers searching for that particular phrase. Keep going down the list, writing down all the phrases with the right numbers, along with their counts. When you've finished with this, move on to doing wizard b and start all over again. Once you've finished your entire list, narrow it down to the best six in terms of search numbers.
Even if you decide to only publish through Amazon, it's a good idea to check for keywords on other venues such as Kobo, iTunes, and even Google. Each place will give you a slightly different set of results, and you may find a combination of words that pulls in massive amounts of new readers.
It may seem like an unimportant detail, but punctuation in your keyword box is the ultimate key in making sure the right readers find your books. Words grouped together between commas are considered one phrase, and a search engine will show your book to anyone who searches for the whole phrase before those who only look for a couple of words. In other words, if your keyword string is boy wizard UK, it's more likely for your book to show up if someone searches for all three words together. If they use two of the three words, your book will show up but farther down the list, and it will be much harder for them to find it.
Listing Your Books
When you list your book, you'll find a box for keywords. This is where you'll use your list. Write each keyword separately with a comma in between them. Amazon allows seven separate keyword phrases. Use the best six you have in the first six spaces between commas, then use the last space to run all the rest in one long string such as wizard boy wand England train glasses. The search engine will pick out and use words in that last phrase separately.
Creating keyword lists like this takes hours, of course, but in the end you'll have a list of phrases that customers actually search for, instead of some words that you think might work. Your book will automatically rank higher in the searches, which will translate to more sales across the board.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!