3 best practices for getting Google to notice your book
Despite all this signal sniffing, Gray said there are a few practices that authors and publishers can follow to increase the likelihood that a book or ebook comes to Google’s attention.
1. Use descriptive titles and chapter headings — Gray said an approach that favors “cleanliness of information” will make it easy for Google to find relevant content in a book and serve it up to the inquiring mind on the other side of the Google search box.
For example, if a book on the Internet has a chapter on the history of the web, it would be much better to use the title “History of the Web” than simply, “History.”
“We’re going to do the best we can,” he said, “but more complete chapters titles will help us out.”
2. Create quality content outside the book — The content you create around a book can also make a difference. As an example Gray cited the bestseller “Freakonomics,” by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, pointing out that the first result from a search for the title is not the book, but the New York Times “Freakonomics Blog.” That comes ahead of the book’s web page, and the Amazon listing.
Presumably the frequency of the blog updates, the authority of the New York Times, and the number of inbound links to the column on the Times’ website boost the newspaper site’s ranking over the original book.
Yet the column’s prominence also helps the book’s ranking on Google.
As more book publishers use the web to augment the content between the covers, this kind of synergy is likely to become more common. “This blurring of the line between books and other content is something that I expect to happen more and more,” Gray said.
3. Book covers matter — One significant piece of metadata that Google has discovered, Gray noted with wry irony, is the book cover.
“A book cover is actually very rich metadata,” he said. “People associate a cover style with a particular author, or a particular series, and they respond to that. They recognize the cover and say, ‘That’s what I’m looking for’.”
Gray’s advice to book and ebook publishers: pay attention to the covers.
“We have observed,” he said, “that people actually do judge a book by its cover.”