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Sell More on Amazon: Understanding Keywords and Amazon’s Algorithms

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October 24,2013


By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

Most of us know Amazon as one of the biggest online stores where you can get everything from the latest tech gadget to your favorite book. But what many don’t realize is that Amazon is a search engine and subject to many of the same algorithm rules that sites like Google and Bing subscribe to.

When you want to expand your visibility in search engines, you start to look at things like keywords, tags and content. The rules aren’t that dissimilar. If a product or book is getting traction on Amazon, it will trigger their algorithm which then kicks in their internal promotion. What does Amazon’s internal promotion look like? It’s not that different from a real brick and mortar store really.

Let’s say your local Gap Store is seeing a sudden surge of turtlenecks which were previously stuffed in the back of the store, maybe on a small table by the dressing rooms. The store recognizes that these are selling and moves the turtlenecks to the front of the store so more people can spot them. What happens? They start selling even more. Now the store decides to pair them with something. Let’s say a pair of cargo pants. Great! They add them to the table and update the mannequin display. The pants sell now nearly as well as the sweaters. Do you see a pattern here? This is what happens with Amazon, too. Triggers such as keyword searches, categories and spikes in sales that last longer than 48 hours start to ping Amazon’s algorithms and the next thing you know, your book is showing up as a recommended buy and top of searches. The more you sell, the more Amazon wants to help you sell. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

SEO and Your Amazon Page

In most cases it’s easier to optimize a non-fiction book than a fiction book, however, when it comes to categories your fiction book may likely do better. (We’ll look at categories next week) Why are non-fiction books easier to optimize? Because there are fewer of them.

So what is Amazon optimization, really? Well, it’s your Amazon page (the actual book page) and your Amazon Author Central Page, both of which can be enhanced using keywords, reviews, pricing, and picking the right categories.


First up, let’s take a look at keywords. What many authors and sellers don’t realize is that much like Google, Amazon has a fantastic keyword tool. Most of you have probably experimented with typing in a keyword in the Google search bar and seen their suggestions pop up. Amazon has the same search/keyword function. For example, if I type “selling books” into the search bar, it pops up quite a few search suggestions, one of which is “selling books on Amazon.”

When you input that search term (selling books on Amazon), my book, Selling Books by the Truckload on Amazon comes up on the first page (a good thing). When I was trying to decide what to name it, I did this search and looked at all of the titles that popped up. Many of them were just titled: Selling Books on Amazon (smart authors) which digs right into the keywords and that’s what you want. That’s why you want to run this search.

The goal of this exercise is to either use this search when you’re titling your book, or if your book is already out there, you can use the keywords in your book’s description. To do this on your own, you can either type in a keyword string, or even better, type in a single keyword and see what pops up. So, let’s say you have a book about cooking. Type the word “cooking” into the Amazon search bar and you’ll see lots of suggestions such as “cooking for one” and “cooking for two,” you can then incorporate these keywords into your book title, subtitle, or description. I would suggest doing this for each keyword associated with your book. You can do a similar search on Google itself, within their search bar. You’ve no doubt seen their word or search suggestions pop up. Another good place to do keyword search is Keep in mind that for your book description, you can only use 7 keywords or keyword strings, and there’s no reason why you can’t also use popular author names. I’ve used author names in keywords often and it absolutely works.

Now that we have identified how Amazon is a search engine and why selecting certain keywords can help others find your book more easily, next week we’ll talk why categories are also important in an article titled, "Sell More on Amazon: Understanding Categories and Other Ways to Trigger Amazon."

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.

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Google+ profile of Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

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