Just as Google crushed competing search engines, Amazon is almost single-handedly responsible for the extinction of the printing press and traditional bookstores. When is the last time you went into a Barns & Noble store to buy a book? I have not done it for over ten years.
The mall bookstore is a relic of the past.
Not long ago I wrote an article for one of my websites that went to number one in Bing search and number three in Google search for a search query used over 11,000 times per month. On top of that, it’s a negative query and Google won’t allow advertisers to bid on it. As a result, I get tons of clicks from my search position.
And then it hit me. The search query itself would make a great title for a book. But could I get the book to sell, get people to review it, and get it ranked on page one in Google?
It became my obsession for the next month.
My Amazon Kindle Book Experiment
As quickly as I could, I pulled my original article and ten more related articles off my website and revised my work to create a 100-page book. A week later I sent it off for editing, wrote my preface and conclusion, and hired a graphic artist to create a cover. When everything was ready, I used Amazon’s own tools to format the book for Kindle.
While the manuscript was with the editor, I created a Kindle book page and started taking pre-release orders. Amazon allows you to do this as much as 60 days in advance of the availability of the book. That’s perfect because it gives you time to create your book description and get your page indexed in Google.
With Google, content is king. Knowing this, I crafted a book description geared toward SEO, not my own vanity. That’s where I noticed 99 percent of the book authors I’m competing with go wrong. Only a single book in my category also uses an exact match search query as its title.
Can you imagine that?
I don’t know if the author of the book did it purposely or not. I suspect not because the book page does not rank in Google for the primary keyword (i.e., the title).
In fact, in a little more than a week I was able to get Google to index my book page and get it to rank for the primary search query. It debuted at position 12.
It took a full day to wipe the grin off my face.
A week later, which was three days before the book release date, I published a press release about the book. On the day of my book release, the book page was sitting at position 10 for the search query and was ranking for two more search terms.
That’s when I knew I had a winning strategy to find more customers and get more business.
Amazon Kindle books are very popular, as are self-published books printed on demand and shipped by Amazon. As I proved with my experiment above, it is possible to partner with Amazon and SEO your Amazon book page to the top of Google search in a very short period.
Why does it work?
For one thing, Google trusts Amazon. The bookseller is an advertiser (less so now than in the past), and it has more than 3.68 billion links from over 4 million websites. Ahrefs ranks Amazon.com the 27th most authoritative site on the worldwide web, giving it a domain rating of 96 out of 100.
You and I will simply never achieve the same level of authority on our own websites or those we manage for others. That’s why partnering with Amazon is an excellent way to get your message, and your product, in front of others.
The Art of Educating People to a Sale
In 1997 I was interested in buying a new sports car. Before doing so I joined a popular car enthusiast forum to learn more about the car from current owners. After getting my new wheels I kept participating in the forum and began answering other member’s questions.
One of my life-long hobbies has been car detailing. It satisfies my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I began answering all sorts of questions people had about their car’s appearance. Frequently, I would recommend the products I used to get the job done.
The next thing I knew people were trying the products and my methods and reporting back results. I noticed the same cycle in other product-related topics. Simply put, when an authoritative voice helps people solve a problem, and includes a product in the solution, the product sells.
In 1999 I put my observation to the test and created Autopia Care Care. opening my virtual doors with a few dozen articles that solved various car appearance issues. Although I got out of the car care products business in 2007, twenty years later it remains a raging success because the formula has remained the same.
The short answer is that people use the internet to find solutions to their problems. If the shortest and easiest path to the solution is a product, they often buy it. But will they buy a book as an intermediate step to the product you want them to buy?
I know this because I took many of the car care articles that I wrote and published them on another website called Guide to Detailing (which I also sold). I later created an ebook by the same name and sold it for $1.99. Over a course of 5 years, I sold a few thousand copies.
The secret to success is not marketing the product, but rather presenting the solutions. You must take your marketing hat off and put on your consultant hat.
Don’t try to sell. Educate.
That’s exactly what I did with my experiment, called Why Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad. In this book, I laid out all the reasons people think private Medicare insurance is bad. But I also explain why they are good, and who can benefit, or even get the insurance for free.
Simply put, I make myself the reader’s personal consultant.
I’m not an insurance agent. I don’t work for an insurance agency or an insurance carrier, either. But I make seriously good commissions for recommending an insurance agency that does sell Medicare insurance.
Just to be clear, though, my technique will work for:
- Service providers
- Sales reps
- Affiliate marketers
It all starts with a good book title.
How To Find and Choose Your Book Title
In the first chapter, I mentioned that Ahrefs has an excellent keyword research tool called Keywords Explorer. This is where you start. I will use my Why Medicare Plans are Bad book as an example.
When using Keywords Explorer, you start with the primary topic. In my case, the topic is “Medicare Advantage”. When I enter the topic in the search box, here’s what I get:
With 78,000 monthly searches, it’s a great search term, but a keyword difficulty of 74 is a bit too much to bite off. And, quite frankly, it does not make a good book title. So, let’s look at some of the keyword ideas that Ahrefs offers:
Here you can see that Ahrefs organizes keyword ideas by:
- Matching terms,
- Also ranked for, and
- Also talk about.
The most appropriate place to go digging for gold is in the questions column. That’s where you will find top searches that can solve people’s problems. And wouldn’t you know it, my book title idea is right at the top.
Why did I choose this title instead of one of the other 7,000 ideas Ahrefs came up with? Easy. Volume and competition.
By drilling down further into questions, Ahrefs shows you search volume and keyword difficulty on all its suggestions. And even though I found a few options for good titles, none had the search volume or low keyword difficulty of “why medicare advantage plans are bad.”
There’s another reason, too. The book title and the search are negative questions. When people need to make a decision as important as choosing their health insurance, they want to know they aren’t about to make a costly mistake.
What common or costly mistakes do people make in your industry?
What About Local Searches?
If you have a local business or a website that has a local orientation, you might be wondering if this technique will work for local searches on Google. Yes, it will. But you will need to be creative.
Let’s use cosmetic surgery as an example.
Using Ahrefs’ keyword tool I discovered the keyword “best plastic surgeon in arizona” gets about 900 searches per month and has a keyword difficulty of 37. That isn’t a lot of searches, but cosmetic surgery is expensive.
“Best Plastic Surgeon in Arizona” isn’t a great book title, so here’s what I’d do. When creating the book page I’d used the exact match search as the title. However, when having the book cover designed, I use a title like, “The Best Plastic Surgeon in Arizona: Before and After Photos You Won’t Believe”. I’d use that as my book description heading, too.
Of course, if you use a title like that on your cover, you’d better live up to the claim.
To dial in on the exact cities you want your book to show up in, simply talk about the cities (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, etc.) in the book’s description.
Ahrefs is an indispensable tool for finding topics. And book titles too! But what about the actual content itself? How do you know what topics to cover to be the best of the best?
For that, there’s ClearScope, which I cover next.