Monday, October 3, 2011

You Asked: eBook Tagging

by J. Lea Lopez

A while back we asked you all what topics you'd like to see us cover here at FTWA. One reader asked about eBook tagging on Amazon, and unfortunately none of us really knew anything in-depth about it. At least not in terms of what it does for the author, and the logic behind tagging parties/lists. I've finally come across some information about this, so the question can be answered! I'm not sure the original asker really needs the info anymore, since it was Ruth Cardello, who is busy blazing her own trail on Amazon and seeing some good success with her marketing tactics. For the rest of us, here are some important things to know about tagging on Amazon.

  • Any one person (author or customer) can add up to 15 tags (think of them as keywords or category labels) to a book on Amazon.
  • If you click on a tag from a product page, you'll see other products with the same tag.
  • You can browse the most popular tags.
  • Amazon will suggest items to you based on your tags.

That seems fairly straightforward, and not exactly rocket science. It would seem that tagging is a way to make your book more visible to people looking for certain categories/subjects, right? Right. To an extent. However, you might be interested to know that clicking a product tag yields very different results than typing the tag into Amazon's search box.

It seems the more people who tag your book with a certain term, the higher your book will appear in the results when a customer clicks on the tag, either from another product page or the tag cloud. This is why you'll see groups of people starting "tag parties" (the erotica writer in me wants to assign a very different meaning to that phrase, ha!) where everyone agrees to tag each others books with the author's preferred tags. While this is good to know, ask yourself how often you browse for books (or anything) by clicking tags. For me, I might click on a tag occasionally, but not very often. More often than not, I'll use the search function and type in a topic, and use the drop-down box to search in "Books" or "Kindle Store." You can get drastically different product results this way.

Take a moment to do your own experiment on Amazon to see what I mean. I typed erotic romance into the search field and searched the Kindle store for that term. I looked at some of the titles, clicked on the first one, and scrolled down to the tags. From there, I clicked the erotic romance tag and was taken to another page of results that looked much different than when I had typed in the words and searched. I also tried enclosing the search term in quotes, and got yet another set of results. And just for good measure, I typed the tag into a separate search box labeled "search products tagged with" (which was at the bottom of the page, next to all the product tags).

Typing the tag into the special search box did yield the same list of results as clicking the tag itself, but not the same as typing the tag as a phrase in the main search box, which, let's face it, is the one that's most visible, and that most people will use. So I don't think rushing out to start or join numerous tag parties to make sure your book's target keywords are tagged hundreds of times is necessarily a guarantee that customers will find your book, but it won't hurt, either. (Something that might help a little more is thinking about search engine optimization (SEO) on your book's product page.)

Have you/would you participate in a tag party? If you have, do you think it's helped customers find your book?


Jemi Fraser said...

The things I learn from you, Jen! I'd heard of tags, but didn't have a clue what they meant or did. Thanks so much for filling me in. Now, off to see how a few of my favourite books are tagged! :)

Calista Taylor said...

It's my understanding that others agreeing/liking your tags can also increase your rating via Amazon's algorithm.

Also, I did find that once I had added the tags and did a search for that particular tag, my book did come up, where as it hadn't previously. : )

Alleged Author said...

I must be a dingbat because I've never noticed the "tags" on Amazon. Duh, AA.

Brittany Roshelle said...

So that's how that works! It's very important information to know for authors everywhere who are slaving away trying to promote their books! Thanks for the info!

Brittany Roshelle

The Write Stuff blog

Leslie Rose said...

Fascinating stuff here. Never knew tagging opens up a whole new search strand. Thanks for the eye opener.

J. Lea Lopez said...

I'm glad you guys learned a little something! Tagging certainly does open up a new avenue for readers to discover your work.

Victoria said...

Great post, thanks! It wasn't until a few days ago that I actually paid any attention to the tagging.

I wish I had learned about this sooner!

Ruth said...

Great post. I still shy from "tagging parties" or doing anything that might come back to bite me later. I'm not saying that I never asked anyone to tag for me, I just try to avoid doing anything I couldn't stand up at a writer's conference and talk about doing. This remains one of those controversial topics.

Choosing a title for your book is as important as tagging. You need to think about which list you will show up on and what your competition for the top of that search will be.

Linking up with tag words is also done by number of downloads associated with a word. That's why if you type in the word ROMANCE at Amazon, Maid for the Billionaire comes up. FREE did that for me. I stopped tracking downloads somewhere after 500,000 -- but it's another illustration of how a strategy can keep you visible. No, I never made any money off my first book, but what would that kind of visibility have cost me? I'd say it was a fair trade off.