Another conversation between L.J. Sellers and Peg Brantley... and you!
L.J: Recent discussions between Thomas & Mercer authors say they’re not as important as they have been in the past. And I’ve noticed that whenever I read articles or paid-advice about keywords, the information always seems to be geared toward nonfiction, where they seem to be more important. I believe that’s because in nonfiction there are more possibilities for categorizing the topics.
Fiction seems to be less complicated. Advice I’ve read recently suggests keywords should simply be the genre, sub-genre, sub-sub-genre, (thriller, international thriller, police procedural), then a few broad topics that readers might search for to find your book (FBI agents, survivalists, hackers).
Peg: So keywords have gone from being the darlings to the stepchildren? Ugh. Like choosing between butter and margarine… Can I forget about them then? Or do they still play some kind of supporting role in my book sales?
L.J.: I’m sure there are authors who still swear by keywords, but I’ve experimented with them in books' metadata, in Amazon’s 7 allowed keywords, and in books' descriptions. None of it made a difference. Except for genre. After listing a main critical category—such as police procedural—I chose a less crowded one such as international thriller. That allows The Trigger to make the top-100 with fewer sales and remain visible to readers.
In another author forum, someone mentioned that the new trick is to stick as many keywords as possible into the space between commas. Like this: love romance sweet love NA young couple summer love may to december love, literary romance romantic suspense passion couples intimacy, ….. and so on. But key phrases should match user searches, so I’m not sure how effective that is.
Another author commented that she had updated and added keywords, and her rankings went down. Which could be coincidental, or maybe fewer readers could find her book because she’d deleted or changed her most effective key/search word without realizing it. With seven possibilities, you would have to be methodical about experimenting with them one at a time and documenting results.
For those who want a thorough discussion, M. Louise Louisa Locke has written a series of blogs on the subject.
Writers, have you gained some expertise you'd like to share regarding keywords?
Readers, how often do you actually search Amazon using a keyword?