Most people associate keyword research with PPC programs and SEO. But really, this data provides a window to the desires and ailments of the online masses. It gives you one of the most comprehensive looks at what your audience wants. Google receives over 3.3 BILLION searches per day - you won’t find a larger sample size!
By not taking advantage of this vital information, you do a great disservice to yourself as an author. Whether you plan to start writing, or if you finished your book, keyword research can help you improve every aspect of the project.
From your book’s title and subtitle, your chapter titles, and beyond to your essential promotional copy, keywords will make sure everything you do as an author remains focused on the needs of your readers. Keyword research will also make you more aware of the competition out there related to the topics your book will tackle.
It will help you answer questions like…
- Will your book be unique and serve a purpose?
- Does a niche market exist?
- Can you compete with the current online establishment?
- Do people need a book like yours?
Keyword data can answer all of these and more!
Warren Samu and I have been working together for over 15 years! He’s my webmaster and go-to person for all things techie. I’m so glad he will be sharing his wisdom at our Nonfiction Master Course this October on how to Find and Hook Your Ideal Book Audience with Keywords.
The Original Book Coach
You can learn how to begin your research by mastering this comprehensive guide. The rest of this article presumes you reviewed and understand the basics of keyword research.
Get In Tune with Your Audience’s Lingo
As an expert or professional in our fields, we often use terminology well known amongst colleagues, but not so accessible to our potential book buyers. If you want your reader to find your book, if you want people to be able to make the decision to buy your book based on the title and preview you provide, you must speak their language.
Keywords allow you to do this!
Put together a list of all the questions your book will answer, all the problems your readers face. Frame these questions in a way that you or someone else would enter into a search engine.
Now, run each individual question through the Keyword Planner. Review the results Google displays and review the suggestions. Make modifications to the questions to increase monthly search volume and precision. Compare the language you used and the language people actually use. Compare the language suggested.
Adjust your phrases accordingly. Record all your research in lists. Categorize the phrases. Keep track of the monthly search volume. Mark the best potential keywords as well as the keywords you want to avoid using.
- Did you uncover lots of different questions about the topic your book will focus on?
- Did your post-research modified questions yield decent search volumes?
If yes, you should be smiling 🙂
If no, there might be little to no interest in what you want to write about. Maybe you need to rethink the language or your approach? Maybe your book will bring attention to an unknown issue?
Or maybe you just saved yourself from writing a dud!
Once you know a market exists for your book, you can begin to evaluate the competition for the keywords you researched. Pay attention to the websites on the first and second pages of search results for each phrase.
- Do they receive a lot of inbound links?
- Do they offer substantial information on the topics your book will discuss?
- Do popular books show up?
Don’t limit your search queries to Google. Check out the results on Yahoo! and Bing as well. Assume people will also use these phrases when looking for books on Amazon, so type them in there and see what pops up.
This stage will give you a general idea of the current establishment related to your book’s topic(s). By the end, you will either feel confident your book will serve a need and can overcome the current competition or you will be discouraged by the overwhelming amount of information out there.
Take time to reflect and decide whether you should move forward with your book project.
Take a Breath!
You collected data on all the possible search queries out there related to your book – what people want. You evaluated the strength of your competition – if any. You just conducted your online marketing research using keywords!
If you still feel excited and positive about your book’s prospects, then take your hard work to the next step.
Your Book’s Title
Go back and review all those great questions you discovered in your keyword analysis. Find the one that represents the overall purpose of your book, the one that resonates strongest with your readers. Find a phrase with a high monthly search volume, low competition, and a phrase that contains other possible keyword variations within it.
Use that phrase as your book title!
You can easily turn a question into a title. Even the title of this article, “How to Use Keywords to Build a Better Book” could be the search query, “how to use keywords to build a better book?”
Did you find two or more excellent phrases? Maybe you can use one as your subtitle?
Make sure the keywords you use for your book title attract your best target audience and, in a broader respect, represent all the sub-topics your book will cover. And yes, do still spice up your title as well!
Your Book’s Chapter Titles and Parts
Start to map out your best keyword phrases. With the title at the top of the tree, create branches underneath of all questions that relate to your title - all the parts that address the overall question of the book. These new branches can be turned into your book’s chapter titles.
Each chapter title will represent a specific question people search for online (with solutions!). When your potential buyers preview your book, they will be reassured you address and solve their unique needs and problems.
Can you branch out even further? Each branch of keywords related to your chapter titles can be used to highlight parts of the chapter.
An Outline and a Pre-Marketing Tactic
Take a look at what you just did! Amazed?
Your keyword research can serve as a rough outline for your entire book! An outline that ensures each piece will create actual value for your potential buyer. Book Coach Judy Cullins calls this an author’s pre-marketing - and aptly so. With this strategy, the actual layout and language choices you make based on your keyword research builds a huge portion of your book marketing right into the copy.
If you made it this far, you already:
- Gave your book a title that gives it the best chance of being found by your target audience online.
- Gave your book chapter titles and headings that will convince readers your book will solve their actual problems and persuade them to buy.
- Gave yourself a researched book outline that concentrates on the essential topics your readers crave.
Do you feel more motivated and amped than if you just jumped in blind? Of course you do! This focus will keep you going as you flesh out all the content.
But wait! More to look forward to…
With keyword research, you don’t need to be a marketer to promote your book!
Authors love to write, but most hate to market. If your keyword research rejuvenated your passion toward your book project, embrace your new found power! Realize that your author marketing muscles grew simply by learning more about the topics you love and the way people engage them. Your marketing intelligence will continue to develop just by falling back on this research.
In other words, you will become a better marketer for your book by becoming a more conscious author.
Let me clarify. You do need to market your book, but to do so, you will merely share information you already wrote – information you love to share!
The following promotion avenues presume you will be self-publishing or you at least own the rights to your book’s content. Most of these routes require little else than your time and persistence.
You can take one of your short chapters, or chapter parts, and repost it on your blog, as a guest blog post, or as an article. Use the title or main heading as the post title. Guess what? You already performed all the essential search engine optimization (SEO) when you used your keyword research to write your book!
In your post, include a call to action like, “Did you enjoy this excerpt from YOUR BOOK TITLE? Click here to get the entire book now!”
Of course, you can use all that wonderful keyword research to write new related posts too.
Don’t forget to share these publications with your email lists! You savvy content marketer you.
I’m sure you included all kinds of tip infused headlines, topic sentences, and one-liners throughout your book. Use these bits as tweets and updates across Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and your other social media accounts. Every-so-often, throw in a link to your book’s sales page.
Use services like www.canva.com to place some of your insightful book text on top of image posts. Graphics with imposed text receive 5-10 times the amount of engagement!
You used Adwords, a PPC service, to research your book’s keywords. You performed the same work you would if you wanted to research your audience and language for online ads. If your budget allows, go ahead and use your best keywords to create targeted ad campaigns. Link these campaigns to your book’s sales page, your author website, or whatever online platform you wish to engage potential readers on and grow your audience.
Now How Do You Feel About Starting Your Book?
Energized? Revitalized? Powerful?
Traditional publishers can utilize a multitude of resources to conduct market research and promote. Self-published authors may feel handicapped without the same kind of resources – but not you!
Take advantage of the value keyword research offers. Whether you spend the time to master this skill on your own, or bring someone on board to help along the way, you won’t regret it.