Friday, October 21, 2016

SEO and Keywords 101 for Self-Publishing

by Traci Tyne Hilton @TraciTyneHilton

By now everyone is an expert at SEO and knows how to load up their books and their book pages with keywords.



Well, if you are nodding along pretending to be an expert (like I do sometimes) than this post is for you.

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It makes your book pop up first when specific key words are entered into search bars. For our purpose, as indies, we are going to focus on Amazon search. Amazon is your bread and butter, after all. Getting good exposure on Amazon helps fund the rest of your endeavors.

The simplest part of the keyword game on Amazon is making full use of the empty “keyword” spot on your book publishing page. It says you can use 7 keywords. What that really means is six commas. You actually get hundreds of characters, so stuff the spaces between your commas as full as you can! Even the FAQ page says best success is gained by using key phrases of two or three words.

Misuse can get you kicked off KDP.
There are some important caveats though, and misuse can get you kicked off of KDP so NEVER reference another author by name, or other book titles by name in your keywords. Do NOT use words like “free” or “best-selling” or “kindle unlimited.” Those are all very verboten.

They also encourage you to not repeat your own title or subtitle because there is no point. Titles are already searchable items.

One example of a “keyword” from my mystery series is “murder mystery suspense woman detective amateur sleuth” likewise another is “inspy inspirational Christian missionary college NA YA Romance Bible.” When searching for NA Christian mysteries (or any combination of that idea) my first book comes up on the first page of searches, even though those words aren’t used as an exact phrase.

Another great tip is to stuff keywords into your book description. Just be…sophisticated about it. That description helps sell your book. If it is a bunch of jargon sounding nonsense the keyword stuffing will be wasted!

I know you are wondering what key words to use. After you have exhausted the obvious words related to your book, check out this Amazon link. They have thoughtfully provided a list of keywords that will help your book populate in extra search categories, increasing your chances of hitting a category best seller list! The list can be found in the middle of the page, here:

There are other SEO tips and skills out there, and I encourage you to google for them, but these are the basics that you need to know as an indie.

SEO & Keywords 101 for Self-Publishing - @TraciTyneHilton (Click to Tweet)

Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven Romantic Mysteries. Traci has a degree in history from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy kids, and their dogs, Dr. Watson and Archie Goodwin.

More of Traci’s work can be found at


  1. Thanks Traci. You've help me cut through the fog of SEO and internet marketing.

  2. This is valuable information. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for this great info, Traci! I'm sharing it on my social media. Blessings, Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter

  4. Thanks, Traci. This is great information. I was stumped on how to best use that feature in Amazon.

  5. Great article for finding the best keywords for your next book. How about using a Amazaon merchant account to get more keywords? I created a landing page and used analytics (gostats my first choice) and bought some paid traffic for it. Merchant keywords helped a lot in finding the right ones and analytics helped me check which converted most.

  6. Great article! I'm hybrid and this was frustrating me. Not any more! Thank you!

  7. You are all welcome I know there are more sophisticated techniques out there but this is a great way to get on the map. :D