Updated: Jan 2
For parents, one major way of shopping for children’s books is typing phrases into the Amazon search bar. Many parents will often use similar phrases as they look for their child’s next book. Typically these phrases come from one of the following groupings: setting/time period, character role, plot theme, events/situations, or age group. These are known as keywords, and authors can take advantage of them by using them in the seven KDP keywords boxes for their book.
In competitive markets such as children’s books, tweaks in these keyword boxes can give your book the edge.
That’s because Amazon uses these words to determine if your book should appear in a reader’s search. For example, if you list “Kids Book” as a keyword, you’ll show up when someone searches for that on Amazon. Sounds easy, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just putting in a popular keyword and watching the sales roll in. Many keywords are highly competitive, so while your book will show up somewhere in the search, you might have to click the “next” arrow at the bottom of the page fifty times to see it. The first page of results is where sales tend to happen for a keyword, so if your book appears on page ten, you’re likely not making many sales. It’s important to search for words without as much competition, so Amazon does not put your book at the bottom of the stack.
It’s also important to make sure your keyword receives significant traffic (or searches per month). Even if your book shows up on page one for a keyword, if no one searches for it, then that keyword is not valuable.
In our research, we’ve found similar keywords can have big differences in their amount of traffic. For some of these cases, even only changing a few letters can impact results. This matters because if two keywords are alike, but one receives far more traffic, you likely want to target the more popular one.
Take a look at this example, and see what happens when simply changing the word “to” to a hyphen. Think about which keyword you would rather use, and if you did not know that they yielded different results, you might have picked the wrong one.
Changing the phrasing can also affect your results. Take a look at these two phrases, which may look identical to you, but are significantly different to Amazon’s algorithm.
Don’t forget to watch the competition score, however– no matter how tempting it may be, remember that keywords with high competition scores are extremely difficult to rank. Here’s an example below, where you can see that the competition score varies wildly for four different keywords- even though they mean almost the exact same thing.
Choosing your keywords wisely will help people find your book, but it’s also important to make sure they actually purchase it. For children’s books, the people holding the credit card tend to be the parents (or a gift giver), and they likely have a much better eye for quality than their kids. It’s critical to make sure you have a properly formatted book when showing it off in the store, as children’s books can be judged much more harshly than a paperback when it comes to ascetics.
Different online stores have different requirements (you can see how to format a book for different stores here so you want to make sure you follow the guidelines linked. If you perfect a book for one store, but not another, you can expect to see the difference in your sales between them.
Using the keyword advice above will help get eyes on your book, but having a quality and beautifully formatted product is what will convince people not only to buy but also to tell their friends.
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