September 26, 2018 • Jessica Johns
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that helps you optimize your content for search engines so you have a greater chance of appearing in the top results for relevant search terms. From your book description, to social media profiles, to your blog and author website, having a basic understanding of SEO will help you improve your content and increase discoverability and reach.
Incorporating SEO keyword tools into your book marketing strategy is a vital part of improving SEO. Getting to know keyword tools and strategies can help you understand how consumers search for books, their favorite authors, and related topics. You can also identify consumer keywords, topics, and phrases to inform content marketing and advertising campaigns.
Below, we’ll cover a few of the paid and free SEO and keyword research tools that help find the right keywords to reach your audience. We’ll also give you a few tips on how you can incorporate these keywords in your title data, author blog, social media marketing, and other book marketing strategies to expand your reach online.
We’ve put together a quick list of SEO keyword research tools that you can use to find the right keywords for your book marketing. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to get started.
As you use these tools, remember that your goal is to find keywords to align your book and author profiles and pages with real people—providing context they care about in a way that will resonate with them. You don’t want to game the system. Keywords should always be relevant to your audience, to the content of your book, and to the topics and interests that you write about.
Go directly to the source to research what potential buyers are searching for, what they’re ultimately clicking on and buying, and how they describe your book or comparable titles.
You can also see if your book is indexed by Amazon for a specific keyword. Being indexed means Amazon understands a book to be relevant for a keyword or phrase and has tagged and linked them together appropriately. By searching for the ISBN or ASIN (Amazon’s unique product ID number) with a plus sign (+) followed by your target keyword(s), you can make sure that you’re optimized for Amazon.
However, it’s important to note that being indexed is not the same as ranking in search results. You can be indexed and still not rank highly, and it’s also possible to not be indexed and still rank.
Cost: FREE - unless you find a book you can’t pass up!
With Google Trends, you can enter up to five search terms or topics to see:
Google Trends data is anonymized and indexed (dating back to 2004), so you can see how search habits have changed over time and where there is meaningful interest and activity.
Google Trends is a great starting point for understanding search trends and consumer interest in different types of books, genres, authors, and other topics that might align with your work.
Cost: FREE - making it a great tool to add to your SEO keyword toolkit.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is Google’s official keyword research tool. It is intended for use with AdWords but can also be used on its own to find keywords, number of average searches per month, and competition difficulty. You can even create a keyword plan right in the dashboard, to save it to your account or share with someone else.
Cost: You can create a free account to use this program, and there is no cost to search outside of AdWords. You may be asked to enter credit card information upon account setup, but you will ONLY be charged if you run an AdWords campaign.
Keywords Everywhere is a browser extension tool that requires registration with a free API key. You can install this extension for Chrome or Firefox and get an API key. Once installed, Keywords Everywhere automatically embedskeyword search volume and competition data within supported sites and tools. So, you can see estimated monthly searches and more, populated in search engines like Google, Amazon, and YouTube as well as within other keyword tools like those covered here.
Clicking the extension icon in your browser toolbar will also give you additional options to get metrics on uploaded keywords, or to see a keyword density analysis for a webpage.
Note: Search volume estimates are for monthly searches on Google.com (even when you see the estimates on other sites like Amazon or YouTube).
Cost: FREE - requires registration with a free API key.
LibraryThing is a Wikipedia-like community and cataloging site for books where users can tag, review, and add detailed data about books and authors.
You can search for books and authors to see popular reader tags and categories. This is a great source for user-generated keywords – how real readers describe and identify books.
Use the “Tagmash” feature to find comparable titles based on similarities in genre, content, tone, and style. List a few key aspects of a book to find other books with those attributes – rhyming board books about trucks or urban fantasy featuring witches and demons. Advanced operators (using minus “-“ to demote and double minus “--“ to exclude titles tagged with a particular term) let you further refine and filter your search (ex: books about vegan nutrition, but that aren’t necessarily cookbooks).
Cost: FREE - conduct unlimited searches with a free account. (As a bonus, if you join LibraryThing, you can add and update information about your own books, too!)
Long Tail Pro
Long Tail Pro is a keyword research software developed to help you find the most effective long tail keywords. Using a sophisticated algorithm, Long Tail Pro provides average keyword competitiveness using a score of 0-100, making it easy for you to identify which long-tail keywords to pursue in your book marketing. The software also offers other information about keywords including volume, bid, ranking value, and location.
One of the greatest benefits of Long Tail Pro is that it allows you to monitor competition while also tracking your own ranking for certain keywords. Using this keyword tool, you can easily:
Cost: This program requires an annual subscription, which starts at $25/month. But you can get started today with a free 7-day trial.
SEMrush is an all-in-one digital marketing toolkit that offers powerful keyword and competitor research with an easy-to-use interface. With this program, you can find tested SEO keywords that your competitors and other industry leaders are using to rank high on the search engine results page. SEMrush gives you extended information on keyword value for both organic and paid search such as cost-per-click (CPC), volume, trends, and ad copy results.
The SEMrush keyword research tool also provides phrase matches and related keywords, to help expand your keyword list even further. In addition, you can find relevant long-tail keywords that help you take advantage of more specific search queries and niche topics that may be relevant to your work.
Cost: SEMrush does require a monthly subscription (starting at $99/month). However, it provides additional value well beyond just basic keyword research data, including but not limited to:
With Soovle, you can get auto-complete search suggestions across major search engines – including Google, Amazon, Walmart, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, and others. Type a title, author, comps, and/or related topics and consumer terms into the search box, and you’ll see related search suggestions for a fast look into what consumers across different channels are looking for.
Cost: FREE - and with a convenient “demo” located at the top of the screen, it’s easy to learn how to use. You can customize the default search engines on the page via the “engines” link in the top right corner of the page, and get more help via the “secrets” link.
If you’re looking for more extensive, long-tail keyword ideas or more detailed search volume trends and competition data, these tools are also useful:
Cost: A monthly subscription is required – starting at $99/month. They’re currently offering a 7-day trial for just $7.
Cost: FREE - allows up to 10 queries per month.
Cost: This tool is free to view a limited set of keyword suggestions. A “Pro” account (starting at $48/month) is required for more detailed suggestions, volume, trends, and competition data.
Cost: FREE - allows up to 5 searches per day.
Now that you have the tools you need to get started with keyword research, let’s talk about what you should do with those SEO keywords after you’ve compiled a comprehensive list. Here are just a few tips for authors, using SEO across your digital assets:
1. Use keywords in book title, description, and other descriptive product metadata.
Use relevant consumer keywords, topics, and phrases in your book description as well as in your title, subtitle, series name and other descriptive elements whenever possible. Make sure the first 25 words of your description include the most relevant keywords that potential buyers might be searching on to find your book.
2. Submit retailer search keywords to improve search optimization and categorization at Amazon and other online retailers.
You can submit keywords with your product data at various online retail channels. Not all retailers currently accept keywords, but they are being used more and more. These keywords typically do not appear on-site for consumers to see, and they are a great way to optimize for terms that you couldn’t include in the title of the book or the description. Here are some best practices when it comes to submitting search keywords:
3. Use keywords to develop new blog topics.
Your list of SEO keywords is a great place to start when planning new blog topics. Look at the keywords to discover trends in topics that appeal to your ideal audience. Then, use these topics to develop new blog posts.
Remember, the goal here is not to stuff the keywords into your content, but rather develop helpful, relevant blog posts that your target audience will enjoy. We recommend using your SEO keywords naturally throughout your blog content, while addressing the larger blog topic.
4. Incorporate keywords in your social media profiles and content.
Once you have a list of relevant keywords that your audience is searching for online, you’ll want to incorporate these keywords into your social media profiles and content. Not only will your social media profiles appear on search engine result pages, but some consumers actually use social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest as search engines, by typing in keywords to find relevant content and profiles. Use keywords naturally in your “about” and “bio” entries as well as in posts themselves, and look for opportunities to use popular hashtags that align with your keywords.
5. Include keywords in your optimized website content.
Make sure your site pages and blog posts are optimized for SEO and include the relevant keywords you’ve discovered. Here are a few places you will need to use the keywords:
6. Look for link building opportunities.
Link building is an important part of search engine optimization. The goal is to build quality links back to your site content. The more quality links you have coming to your blog and website pages, the more valuable your content appears to Google, which helps improve your search engine rankings for relevant keywords.
Quality link building isn’t easy, but there are a few ways that you can work to build links back to your SEO keyword optimized content:
If you want to reach your audience in the digital age, you need to improve visibility on search engines and online platforms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. One of the best ways to do this is to find and incorporate SEO keywords into your book descriptions, web page SEO, author blog, social media marketing, and other online marketing assets. You can get started finding the right SEO keywords by using the keyword research tools listed above.
Once you have a list of relevant keywords, it’s time to incorporate these into your book marketing strategy. Use the keywords to develop the types of content that your audience will be searching for. The more quality online content you produce that’s optimized for SEO, the better your chances will be of reaching and connecting with your ideal audience online.