Good book metadata drives sales, making your book easier to find and purchase. Creating good book metadata takes some time in the beginning. However, once it’s complete it requires only a little maintenance.
Brainstorm Keywords and Phrases
The first step involves brainstorming a list of targeted, relevant keywords and phrases. When people are searching for books using Google or Bing, what keywords will they enter into the search field? Any word or phrase you think people might use to search for books should go on your list. Be sure to eliminate more generic words and phrases from your list. The more specific the keywords, the more likely your book will be among the search results.
Investigate Books in Online Bookstores
A second way to research keywords and phrases uses online book sales websites. Most online book retailers allow customers to search for books by keywords. Enter keywords you think people might use to find books like yours in the search field. Explore the results to see if the returned books are similar to your book. If the keywords you used returned similar books, you know the keywords are likely useful in helping people find your book. If the search does not return books that are like yours, try again with different keywords.
Dig Deep with Google Keyword Planner
A third way to research keywords and phrases involves Google Keyword Planner (free to use with a gmail account). Google Keyword Planner provides volume data that shows how popular your keywords are. You can use Google Keyword Planner to find keywords with less competition. This is important because using extremely popular keywords might mean your book appears on page ten of any results. Since most people only refer to the first page of a Google or Bing search, appearing on page ten isn’t helpful. In the end you should have a final list of about ten words and phrases to use to build your book metadata.
Be sure to keep your book metadata fresh. You can do this by using Google Keyword Search every few months to improve your keywords list, check on keyword popularity and volume, and evaluate any new keyword trends or shifts in your audience. Maintaining fresh, relevant metadata is key to keeping your book in view of the public for years to come.
Resources and Further Reading
Zen and the Art of Metadata Maintenance, John W. Warren, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 2015