High-quality metadata can improve discoverability and increase sales. Deanta’s Darren Ryan shares some advice for optimising it
For publishers, ensuring that books are prominent in online searches is essential to sales. Metadata—all the information pertaining to a book, from basic bibliographic information to in-depth chapter descriptions, pricing and contents—can help publishers achieve this discoverability.
A 2012 study by Nielsen found that titles incorporating proper metadata had significantly higher sales on average, and more recent research in 2016
reinforced the connection. Here are five tips for publishers wishing to invest in metadata and adopt a more strategic approach to sales and marketing functions.
1 Focus on basic metadata first
Basic metadata is the essential operational data that distributors and booksellers need to list and sell a book—like ISBN, title and sub-title, cover image, publisher, author and contributors, price, category, territories, DRM and language. Only after this is correctly implemented should publishers focus on enhanced metadata, which generally includes specific keywords or additional information, like a table of contents, sample pages or a first chapter.
2 Use ONIX 3.0
Developed by EDItEUR and others, and first released in 2000, ONIX for Books is the global XML-based standard for creating, transmitting and communicating book product and bibliographic information electronically. Its latest release, ONIX 3.0
, can carry a wide range of marketing and collateral information and was specifically designed to meet the requirements of today’s digital publishing market.
3 Keep metadata accurate throughout the lifecycle
It’s important to consider metadata as a dynamic process that follows the whole lifecycle of a book until it goes out of print. Metadata is generally first supplied six months ahead of publication, and after that it should be continuously updated with evolving information about availability, price, territorial rights, reviews, keywords or links to other books.
4 Choose high-quality keywords
Metadata keywords enable books to be discovered in a web search. They should include elements such as the genre of the book and any keywords or information that would appeal to the intended audience. They are based on the words people use to search online—whether on a general search engine or within a retail website.
5 Encourage integration between departments and systems
Cooperation between the marketing, sales, publicity, production and editorial departments is key for the development of quality metadata. Specific technology platforms that integrate content and metadata management can help to foster this integration.
Darren Ryan is CEO of Deanta. Deanta is a member of EDItEUR, which has more metadata resources for publishers including information about ONIX 3.0.