How to Increase Book Discoverability with Meta Tags in Your Book Metadata

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Achieving book discoverability with readers means making search engines aware of you and your book. You may have heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as being important to your website; that IS book discoverability. Discoverability is your biggest marketing partner as it provides reliable, continuous passive marketing. Successful book discoverability means that your readers can find you simply by entering words that describe your book into a search engine. It’s a disservice to you and your book if you don’t leverage these words for your benefit.

Metadata is everywhere: in your website, in the ISBN record for your book, in your social media sites, even in the documents, audio and video files you upload to the web. The metadata fields you can control are title, description, and keywords.

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Raw Metadata

Let’s take a peek at metadata in its raw form, that is, the HTML code on a web page, where it sits between the <HEAD> tags. You can take a peek at this code by navigating to any website and viewing the source code using the tool bar of your web browser. (For example, in the Google Chrome browser use your tool bar to find View > Developer > Source Code no matter what site you choose.) If you don’t see any meta tags, be aware that not everyone uses them, which is unfortunate, because they’re missing a great marketing opportunity.

Here is an example of good meta tagging from my adventure travel writing website. Note the three meta nametags: Title, Description, and Keywords below, between the <HEAD> tags. What you’re looking at is HTML code for websites.

Carla King Book Metadata.png 

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Breaking Down Important Meta Tags

My Title tag, “Carla King: Motorcycle Adventure Traveler,” is the title of my website. You’ll see the Title tag displayed at the top of my web page when you visit. If you don’t use this tag, the web browser may simply display your page title as “Home.” Again, not something that search engines will see and a missed marketing opportunity.

My Description tag is a short, friendly sentence that appears in search engine results. This should be compelling enough that users will click on it and include a few of your keywords.

The Keywords tag is simply a string of words or phrases separated by commas, that I think people might type in when they’re looking for a book like mine. This helps search engines put your web page in a category which should be the same category your book would appear in.

You’ll notice in the example above that I’ve tried to imagine the key words that readers will use to find my writing. I’ve used brand names of popular motorcycles as well as countries that people may be interested in finding out more about. That’s because I have a strong niche audience who are interested in motorcycle adventure travel. Sometimes I use the keywords “solo” and “women” to appear in search results for women who are researching solo motorcycle travel. I also use the titles of my books and online travelogue series. For example, you’ll see “american borders” and “indian sunset” in the keywords string above.



I experiment with keywords all the time to try for better results, so don’t be surprised if they’ve changed by the time you read this blog post. Always experiment with your keywords and tweak them to make sure you’re being found for the things you want to be.


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Carla King

Carla King is a publishing coach and the founder of the Self-Publishing Boot Camp educational program of books, workshops, and online courses. Her books include the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, the Consumer’s Guide for Self-Publishers, which reviews the products, tools, and services you use to write, publish, and promote your books, and IngramSpark’s Book Formatting Guide. Carla started self-publishing in 1995 with her travel guide, Cycling the French Riviera, followed by a memoir titled American Borders and a collection called Stories from Elsewhere. She runs the Indie Publishing track at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference and hosts the Author Friendly Podcast. Find the podcast, along with her books, courses, free resources and advice at