Does your book’s title really need to be SEO friendly?

You’re writing a book – or you’ve finished it – and now you’re looking for the right title that’s going to whack it up to the Number 1 spot on Amazon.

Does your book's title really need to be SEO friendly?

Where the title and tagline really do matter, is in the book’s page listing on Amazon (and all other online book retailers, too.)

Like every other kind of literature from a hard-boiled selling point of view, your book’s title needs to shout out not what the author or publisher thinks portrays the gist of the story.

Nope: what the title (and its hangers-on i.e. taglines, blurbs, etc. which we’ve looked at elsewhere on HTWB) needs to convey is what this book is going to do for you.

Does your book's title really need to be SEO friendly: ZZZZzzzzz??

What it is, and how you’ll benefit from reading it. Not very creative, but then we’re talking business!

In my old advertising days, this “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) was our ultimate mantra. Nothing we wrote could escape criticism from our bosses and our clients if our writing didn’t answer that key question … which surprisingly still today is 100 percent relevant, where factual and even (to an extent) emotional issues are concerned.

Nonfiction book titles

With business, self-help and other nonfiction genres of books, you have the luxury/necessity) of writing out the WIIFM in the title and tagline in relatively plain language – and in relatively large type – so that people browsing online will be attracted to its offer to them.

Although Google swears blind that images with text now are searchable, this probably depends a lot on how clever the algorithms are and how obscure the typefaces (fonts) are. Do we want to take chances here?

No – so where the wording really does matter, is in the book’s page listing on Amazon (and all other online book retailers, too.) The words of your title that appear within the text of the book’s page, are very searchable and so must be chosen carefully.

blogging for business,blog posts,what to writeJust type “business blogs” into the Amazon Books search bar and yours truly’s book using those keywords in the title pops up at the number 2 slot.

Had I tried to be a bit more poetic and called the book, say, “Blog Your Way To Business Success,” although “blog” and “business” are individual keywords they don’t work as well when separated, and I would have been on page umpty-dump.

As you can see from the image on the left, the WIIFM factor was put over in no uncertain terms! Despite the potty-mouthed word, however, the book is doing well.

And (without the naughty tagline) a re-edited version has been published in the USA by Business Expert Press, who are also doing a version of my English Business Jargon & Slang later in 2018.

But I digress.

Business branding

If you have written a book that’s an intrinsic part of your brand, it’s important that your write your title and tagline with that in mind.

At the same time though, if you want your book to be taken seriously as a book – and not be seen as a large brochure or very large business card – you need to be careful not to overdo the branding.

A subtle element of design can be helpful, whereby you replicate your corporate colours and perhaps even incorporate your logo into the overall cover design.
Another way to get the branding across is in the tagline, for example:

The easy way to grow

your own gourmet tomatoes

by Mary Jones, Founder of The Tomato Growing Institute

That approach is more subtle than if you were to write the title like this:

The Tomato Growing Institute Guide

to growing gourmet tomatoes

by Mary Jones

Fiction: how do we get the WIIFM across now?

With fiction your title often tends to be a reflection of an emotion that’s triggered by the book.

“Gone With The Wind”
“Pride And Prejudice”
“Love Story”
“50 Shades Of Gray”
“The Big Sleep”
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
“The Girl On The Train”
“Into The Water”
“Farewell My Lovely”
…and so-on.

The real, factual WIIFM normally can’t be stated – “This book will help you fantasise about a handsome prince and forget about your boring husband for a few hours…?” I don’t think so!

The emotions created by the book – and by implication the quality of read the book will give you – are much more dependent on the cover design and the back cover “blurb,” as it is rather rudely called. This latter opportunity to sell your book needs to fulfil a very tall order: to go full-on with enticing and intriguing descriptions of characters and plots, without lying or inventing goodies that aren’t there in the text. I’ll take a look at back cover blurb in a later article.

Taglines for fiction

Increasingly (perhaps because of the increase in online sales for fiction and the accompanying need for searchable keywords in page listings?) taglines are being used to underscore the main title, and summarise the content of the back cover blurb.

But it’s a lot harder to incorporate keywords for fiction, other than the genre you’re looking for (romantic fiction, crime, thrillers, horror, science fiction, etc.) which does not have to be part of the title or tagline.

The tagline, if used, can only pick up on the kernel of the story. So whereas in the past you may have had:

A Question Of Conscience

by Mary Jones

…today you might have, on the front cover:

A Question Of Conscience

Can Anna subdue her nagging conscience, when she uncovers

the dark secret of the man of her dreams?

By Mary Jones

Have a great time writing your book’s title and tagline!

If you have any questions, just drop me a note in the comments or on

And there is more about nonfiction book titles here …

Writing a nonfiction book? Make sure you write the right title