One of the most important elements of your book marketing plan is your book metadata and how you use it. Whether you are self-publishing your own work or publishing someone else's, you need to understand how critical it is to use the appropriate language in the title metadata fields.
You might already be thinking about what keywords to use or, perhaps, you're just starting your book sales plan and are new to the concept of metadata itself. Your metadata keywords enable your book to be discovered during a web search. For example, if you have written an Italian cookbook, the words "Italian" and "cookbook" and maybe even "recipe" should be used as keywords in your metadata. When the chef at your favorite restaurant is looking for new recipes, she might type "Italian recipe" into a search engine. Using the right keywords in your metadata will help your book show up in her search.
While this kind of search engine optimization (SEO) on its own does not determine whether or not your book will be THE bestseller of the year, it can certainly help boost sales. If you have the great American novel on your hands, you want as many readers as possible to find it—the right readers, that is—and great book marketing, coupled with your superb writing, will do the rest.
Entering Your Book Metadata Keywords
The most important place to use the right words is in your title metadata. With good metadata, consumers will see book titles pop up when they perform a web search, whether they were looking for a book or not. Here are a few tips that will help you know how to present your keywords when entering your title metadata.
- Don't use quotes around your keywords.
- Include as many as seven keyword phrases in your metadata.
- Separate your keywords with a semicolon.
- Include the book's genre, e.g., sci-fi, biography, romance, literary fiction, or something else.
- Include the period or era in which your novel takes place. An example would be Second World War and World War II.
- Remember to use three Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) codes.
- Use keyword phrases that describe your protagonist or another character in your book. Some examples are "divorced mom", "stay-at-home dad", "teenage drama", and "immigrant experience".
- See how Amazon uses keywords by performing a search in their Kindle section and looking at what else shows up in the drop-down menu. You might search for sci-fi, but note that other words such as "fantasy", "space opera", "utopian future", or something entirely unexpected shows up. Bingo! More keyword ideas for your metadata.
Metadata keyword phrases should be used in your title, author or contributor area, foreword, copyright, subtitle, and more. Also, you might consider updating your keywords from time to time in order to keep up with trends or when revising your book. If you are publishing or distributing someone else's book, you owe it to them—and your bottom line—to use the right keywords in the metadata and employ a thoughtful, professional book marketing and sales plan.
Metadata as Part of Your Book Marketing
You're already writing or have written the book; you might as well do all you can to sell it! Part of your book marketing plan may be to design a great author website full of keywords to help drive traffic to you and your books alone. However, your website may not have the same traffic or ranking potential as a few well-placed keywords in your book metatada. That is why your metadata needs to be in place in order to make sure your book is visible during internet searches. Distributors, retailers, book buyers, and readers all use metadata even if they don't realize it. Metadata keywords are part of a fixed algorithm used in SEO, and that's why you need to use the right ones in order to rank in search engine results. Use the same or similar keywords in your metadata that you use in other online promotional materials to create multiple instances of your book being the right fit for particular kinds of searches.
You can market your book, or the one you're publishing for someone else, by optimizing SEO as part of your overall book sales strategy. Good marketing means more readers and better sales. Metadata and valuable keywords can be confusing, but it's important to your online book discoverability to understand them.
For a complete explanation of how to optimize your metadata, beyond just your keywords, download our free Title Metadata Best Practices guide.