Carefully choosing your book’s Amazon categories is a vital marketing strategy overlooked by many authors. Why is it so important? Because choosing the right amazon categories can be the difference between your book getting one or two sales a month and your book skyrocketing to the best sellers list.
Browsing Amazon categories is the online equivalent of wandering around a bookstore, browsing different titles and seeing which ones catch your fancy. Categories are the equivalent of sections such as History and Fiction, etc.
Picking Your Amazon Categories
When you publish a book on the Amazon Kindle, you can only choose two categories to list your book in so it’s very important to choose the right categories. You want the ones that will give your book the most visibility and help you sell more books.
Step 1: Browse The Amazon Categories
On Amazon.com, go to the Kindle eBooks department. Browse the categories relevant to your book. Dig deep to find suitable subcategories.
Step 2: Search for Similar Books
Another way to locate suitable Amazon categories is to see how similar books are categorized.
Type the title or subject of your book into Amazon’s search bar. Click on books you find that are on the same subject as your book. Scroll down to Product Details. If the book is a bestseller in either of its categories, the categories will be listed in the Amazon Best Sellers Rank section.
If the book isn’t a bestseller, scroll down until you reach Look for Similar Items by Category. This will show you the categories of the book.
Step 3: Pick a Primary Amazon Category
Your book’s primary Amazon category should be the main section people are most likely to browse for your book. For example, the primary category of my book Southern Yankee Cooking is “Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine because the book’s primary audience is people looking to cook.
Step 4: Pick a Secondary Amazon Category
Choosing a secondary Amazon category is a little trickier. Some books obviously span across two categories. Others could be placed in a wide range of secondary categories.
A good strategy is to choose a sub category of your main category with as few books in it as possible. The fewer the books the less competition. Make sure the sub category fits your subject matter. Finding these categories is more difficult than it used to be, as Amazon no longer displays how many books are published in each category. However, it can be done. Go to the Kindle Bestseller List, and browse some of the categories that might fit your book. In particular, look at the “Top 100 Free” bestsellers for that category. If there are fewer than 100 free books in the top 100, that makes the category a good choice, as there’s little competition.
To continue my example, I chose “Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > U.S. Regional > Soul Food”, because the book’s secondary audience is people looking to cook southern comfort food.
Hint: Previously, Amazon allowed up to five categories for books published using KDP. This is no longer the case, but if Amazon reverts to allowing more categories, remember to take advantage of this!
Step 5: Add the Amazon Categories to Your Book
Head over to the KDP Select website, and sign in to access your dashboard. On the dashboard, click Add new title.
Enter your book details, then scroll down to step three Target Your Book to Customers. Here, you can select the categories you’ve chosen.
In addition to categories, Amazon allows you to choose up to seven keywords for your book. The keywords are used by Amazon’s search engine, so if someone enters one of your keywords into Amazon’s search bar, your book will show up in the search results.
No one but you or Amazon knows the keywords.
While categories help browsers find your book, keywords help searchers discover it. Amazon search will be the biggest source of traffic to your book page, so it’s crucial to get your keywords right.
Hint: Although they’re called keywords, they can actually be phrases.
Step 1: List Your Keyword Ideas
You know your book more intimately than anyone else, so your mind is the best place to start with your keyword research.
When thinking up keywords, reflect on the following questions. What topics does your book cover? What problem is solved by your book? What might people be searching for that your book gives the answer to?
Remember, keywords can be phrases, so don’t constrain yourself to single words.
Step 2: Check Your Keywords with Google
Head over to the Google Keywords Tool, which is in the Tools and Analysis section of the Adwords suite. It’s free to use.
Type your keyword or phrase ideas into the Keyword Tool, and look at the Global Monthly Search figures. The higher the number, the better.
For example, I know people looking for Southern Yankee
Cooking will likely be searching for “Soul Food Recipes”. So I plug this into the AdWords tool, and see it’s got over 14,000 Global Monthly Searches. Pretty good!
Step 3: Check Your Keywords on Amazon
Now you can check the keywords you’ve gleaned on Amazon. While Amazon doesn’t provide the sophisticated analysis of Google’s Keyword Tool, you can still gain insights. You do these with its search bar autocomplete.
Continuing my example, I know “How To Cook”, “Cooking” and “Recipes” will likely help me find keywords. Putting them into the search bar, Amazon suggests the following:
- How To Cook Everything
- Cooking with Herbs
- Cooking for Christmas
- Crockpot Recipes
- Recipes for Sauces
- Recipes Easy
Because Amazon makes these suggestions, I know they’re frequently searched, so if I use these as keywords for my book, it’s more likely to be found. Even better, phrases “1”, “2” and “4”, “5” and “6” are highly relevant to a book on Southern home cooking, which makes them perfect for my use.
Step 4: Decide Your Seven Keywords
Based on your research with Google and Amazon, decide which seven keywords are best for your book. Having done all the research, the final choice is more of an art than an exact science. Go with your gut instinct. You can always change the keywords later.
To add the keywords to your book, go to the KDP dashboard, and click on your book’s title. Scroll down to step three Target Your Book to Customers in KDP. Add your keywords or phrases, separating them by a comma.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can leave leave a comment here…