Keywords are search terms or tags that you want to be associated with your book. These keywords help potential readers find the book when they search on Amazon, other online retailers and the book trade generally.
For example, if an author releases a book about their dog they might choose keywords such as ‘Labrador’, ‘dog’, ‘feel-good’ and ‘family’. This would mean that if someone searched for one of these keywords on Amazon then the author’s book would stand a better chance of appearing as a suggestion.
Amazon recommends imagining how you would search for a book if you were a reader; customers are more likely to search for ‘military science fiction’ than ‘science military fiction’ so the former would be a more effective keyword. Although the words are the same, the order matters.
A book can have up to seven keywords (on Amazon, but more or less may be available on other retailers), which should focus on story, tone, plot themes, setting, and character roles and types.
If you are involved in building a website for your book, you’ll be asked for these keywords as they aid discoverability when people search on Google, Bing, or other search engines. You may be asked for tags – effectively they serve the same purpose.