Metadata Magic: Why It Matters and Best Practices

January 30, 2024
Ingram Associate
Metadata Magic: Why It Matters and Best Practices

Metadata is what helps your book be found. It's the descriptive information that search engines like Google and Amazon use to ensure your title ranks well and is found by the right readers for your book. This data provides important details about the kind of books you're offering, how they're formatted, and much more. That is crucial for the discoverability of your books and, therefore, sales.

BISAC: Make Sure You're Specifying Three to Five Codes

When you choose BISAC codes, you're letting the world know what your book is about. It needs to be accurate, but it also needs to be as complete as possible. For example, if you choose Health & Fitness as your first code, then Diet & Nutrition, then Weight Loss, that's more comprehensive than choosing just the first two codes and then General for the third one, or just putting the book under Health & Fitness.

If you choose at least three deliberate, specific codes you can help readers find your books more efficiently. That will translate to more sales, and also make it easier for people looking for certain kinds of books to locate yours. The codes should reflect both the breadth and the depth of your book's content. The more specific the codes are the better, especially if your book is on more of a niche topic. You want to make sure anyone interested in your book can find it with their search terms.

The first code you select should not only be the most accurate but also the broadest option to describe your book as a whole. Then, you can select the next code and the next one in order to narrow it down. Trying some different main codes from top-level categories will help you find the best opportunity to showcase what your book has to offer. Then you'll feel confident that you've gotten your book into the right descriptive categories.

Keywords: Not Required, But Definitely Recommended

Keywords aren't required metadata for your book, but they're recommended and can provide a lot of additional value and information. They're often used to supplement other forms of metadata that publishers supply, such as the BISAC subject categories mentioned above. That improves the functionality of search, so finding books becomes even easier and more efficient.

A lot of readers want to be able to use keywords to find books that will help them, or that they'll enjoy reading. If you're going to use keywords as part of your metadata, you need to think like a reader. Good keywords come in several groups. These typically include:

  • Genres, subjects, themes, and topics
  • Popular characters and related people
  • Age ranges and audience descriptors

You don't want or need to create dozens of keywords for your books. Instead, focus on a short list of the most important ones. What do your readers search for, and what will catch their attention? The more you can narrow down your keyword list to strong ideas and main themes, the more likely you'll be to use keywords that resonate with the audience you're looking for.

Headline Optimization: Make Them Brief, Bold, and Descriptive

Book descriptions need to catch readers' attention right away. That means they need brief, bold headlines. These should be around 25 words (200 characters) that entice potential buyers with a short burst of information. If the headline goes on for too long, readers may start to lose interest. Keep it punchy and full of detail. This is your "elevator pitch," and it's a critical part of optimizing for discovery by readers and search engines.

Sell the story, but make sure you're not telling the story. That's not what the headline is about. You're not supposed to be focusing on the plot at this point, but on why someone might be interested in buying what you're selling. When you keep it brief and interesting you keep the focus of potential readers. That's not a guarantee that they'll buy your book, but it's a good start toward enticing them to learn more about your book and your characters.

Optimizing your headlines for discovery means including consumer keywords, topics, and phrases that buyers are looking for. That doesn't mean there won't be any outliers, or that you'll get every term just right. But you'll get a lot more data out into the world for potential readers to discover while also help the search engines find your books more easily.

The Bottom Line on Metadata

The most important thing to know about metadata is that it's a great record of detail and information about your book. Search engines will catalog and categorize it, and your readers will use it to find your book and others like it. While you don't have to provide keywords and other information, you can get a lot of benefit from doing so. That can translate to increased success for the future and strengthen your book's growth potential.

Metadata Magic: Why It Matters and Best Practices
Ingram Associate

Ingram Associate

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