SEO WTF: Worst SEO Book Titles (So Far)


Thrilling, Unputdownable, Addictive Title SEO with a Shocking Twist!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that SEO is making a hot mess of book titles. SEO, or search engine optimization, the process of identifying and deploying key words and search terms to boost one’s own results in search engine algorithms. You ever see those titles that are all, Title: an adjective, adjective, adverbly adjective genre genre novel? Yeah. That’s SEO at work: boosting results in a keyword search (e.g. “cozy mystery”) by placing those keywords in the title.

It’s visibly ridiculous.

I noticed this trend (yuk) increasing through the first quarter of 2024, and thought it might be fun to round up some of the most absurd examples. I also asked on a few podcast episodes for people to send me examples of their most (or least) favorite SEO titles. It turned out to be a fun project! As I was doing my research, I noticed that a few words keep appearing, often tied to a specific genre.

First, this was what got me started thinking about this practice:

I can’t transcribe the noise I made when I saw that listing but it was a lot of vowels and an F. I believe this is the UK cover because the US cover is different.

But the title: The Bride Bet: the brand new thrilling regency romance. A must read for fans of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Georgette Heyer.

THAT IS NOT A TITLE. That is two sentences (sort of) and too many adjectives plus some bizarro-world comparable authors.

Who wrote that, and are they okay? The most obvious comps for Dare are…Fergie and Heyer?!

What a strange promotional angle. If you like dead anti-Semitic bigots, or people who defend their sex pest sex-trafficking former spouses, you’ll love this! There are no other authors to use in this case?

And most importantly why is this in the title field. I mean, I know why, and if people didn’t do this I wouldn’t be so entertained, but it’s SO SILLY. While that one was weird enough to save as an immediate screen grab, there is No Shortage of titles like this.

The book cover featuring a cottage with a garden and the title reads Mystery on Hidden Lane: An utterly gripping cozy mystery novel (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition

Claire Chase’s series begins with Mystery on Hidden Lane: An utterly gripping cozy mystery novel, and continues through Mystery at Lovelace Manor: A completely addictive cozy mystery novel.

Methinks that for a book to be successfully marketed as “cozy” it must also be “addictive.”

Mystery Maid: A Deliciously Addictive Cozy Murder Mystery (A Maid Ivy Cozy Mystery Book) Kindle Edition

Mystery Maid: A Deliciously Addictive Cozy Murder Mystery

Mystery by the Sea: An utterly addictive English cozy mystery.

Black Cats and Bad Luck: An Irresistibly Addictive Cozy Mystery.

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage: An absolutely gripping cozy mystery

There are many. They are cozy and they are addictive. Possibly gripping. (Do “gripping” and “cozy” go together?)

But then there are all the books titled with that effortless, completely not-at-all-cumbersome, completely made up word that few people actually say out loud: unputdownable.

FALCONER’S CRUSADE an unputdownable medieval mystery with a twist

 

Spoilers, my god. Unputdownable and a TWIST, you say?!

 

A woman with red hair running on a beach with a tower in the distance. The title reads KIDNAP a fast-paced, addictive, unputdownable crime mystery with a massive twist

 

Oh, gosh, a crime mystery? Is that like a fiction novel?

 

Don't Let Her Stay: An unputdownable psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist

 

Oh, gosh, a BREATHTAKING twist.

 

HER SECOND HUSBAND an unputdownable psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist

 

First, I’m beginning to see a color pairing trend for thrillers that focus on women or the home: cobalt and yellow, or “twilight” and “lamplight.” I’ve now spotted SO many.

And, golly gee, that’s a lot of breathtaking. What else do I find under “breathtaking?”

 

A Marriage of Lies : An unputdownable psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist

Wait, unputdownable, breathtaking, AND a twist?

A red square with the word YAHTZEE across the middle in white

Did I win the game?

Once I started searching, I couldn’t stop.

 

THE BABY I STOLE an unputdownable psychological thriller with an astonishing twist (Twisty, nail-biting crime mysteries and suspense thrillers)

 

Unputdownable, astonishing twist, nail-biting twisty crime mysteries and suspense thrillers? Now you’re just trolling me.

What’s interesting as I move from cozy unputdownable breathtaking twisty mystery thriller and suspense crime novels toward romance, the SEO is very much in the style of:

TROPES. WE HAVE THEM!

Damaged Fake Fiancé: An Enemies-to-Lovers Age Gap Romance (Sizzling Billionaires)

 

This is part of the Sizzling Billionaires series, which I choose to imagine are about a set of very rich men who do not pay their share of taxes on the federal, state, or local level, and thus are billionaires, and they accrued all of their money by owning Sizzlers. The restaurants.

the sizzler restaurant logo which has white text and red stylizzed steam ribbons on a green background

Yes. Those.

And in the title we have enemies to lovers. Age gap. Tropes galore!

And if you want your computer processor to start having the vapors, ask it to bring you all the books that are titled with the word “romcom.”

Scoring the Keeper's Sister: An enemies-to-lovers, pro sports romcom

 

The cover is mint green with illustrations of people that have no faces and I hate that Mr Fake Husband Grump: a small-town, enemies to lovers, sweet romcom

 

(SEO title words aside, I really don’t like it when the illustrations don’t have faces. It gives me the jibblies.)

His First Time - Sterling: A Spicy Best Friend’s Sister and Bad-Boy of Baseball Sports Romance

spicy best friend’s sister and bad-boy of baseball sports romanceI’m going to need some clarification as to what, or who, is “spicy:” the best friend or the sister?

This was very fun for me.  Once I put the word out on social media and on the podcast, I got Excellent Email.

Robin Bradford sent me:

Billionaire Lumberjack's Bride A Standalone Billionaire Mountain Man Forced Proximity Mail Order Bride Romance A uy with absurdly conditioned long hair looks pensive with a lot of tattoos and an axe

A Standalone Billionaire Mountain Man Forced Proximity Mail Order Bride Romance

Malaraa sent me a few that they’ve found in Kindle Unlimited, the Place where SEO Titles Get Frisky and Make More SEO Titles. Among them:

The Well-Hung Gun: virgin captive of the billionaire were-squid gunslinger monster They took a photo of a guy in acowboy hat and a gun looking over his shoulder and gave it texture so he looks scaly

 

Billionaire. Were-Squid. GunslingerI love you, romance. Never change.

Malaraa points out that, “This, by the way, is BOOK THREE.”

Of The SQUIRM FILES.

Joanne B. sent me this one:

The ''I Do'' Dilemma: The Perfect Beach Read with an illustration of a man in a grey three piece suit and a woman in an off the shoulder pink gown

 

Ooooh! Beach read! That’s a good one. So is “tiktok” or “storm” or “sensation.”

Sapphic fiction isn’t safe from the SEO trend either. Heather Rose Jones sent me a lovely collection!

Submitted for your consideration: SEO titles from the world of sapphic historical fiction, as collected for the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast.

A Tale of Mischief and F*ckery: Short Spicy Bodyguard Romance w a Fantasy Twist (Holiday Remixes) With a photo of a woman from the nose down with very ample cleavage in a low cut Xena Warrior Princess costume

Something about her right breast looks really weird to me, but she does indeed seem capable of mischief and fuckery.

There’s also Precious Red Pearls: A Dark Sapphic Captivity Romance (Roseshire County Book 1)

Precious Red Pearls: A Dark Sapphic Captivity Romance A close up gloomy mostly dark photo of two white women in period costume one in blue with black lace and one in burgundy. they are standing shoulder to shoulder

And then there’s If I Should Tell my History: LGBTQ Historical Romantic Fiction, based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” (The New Countess: A Story of Sexy 16th Century Sapphists of Shakespeare):

If I Should Tell my History: LGBTQ Historical Romantic Fiction, based on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" (The New Countess: A Story of Sexy 16th Century Sapphists of Shakespeare Book 2)

I just want to share here, just between us, that I have a filter on Audition that removes sibilance (S sounds, basically) and it would fry itself, slap me in the face, and immediately pass out I fed it, “A Story of Sexy 16th Century Sapphists of Shakespeare.”

Heather Rose Jones also sent me All the Painted Stars: TikTok made me buy it! A dazzling queer historical romance for 2024, perfect for fans of Freya Marske

All the Painted Stars: TikTok made me buy it! A dazzling queer historical romance for 2024, perfect for fans of Freya Marske An illustration in gold, pink purple and mustard of a woman dressed as a knight kissing a woman in a square necked period gown

It’s Too Many Words.

The title of the book is four actual words.

The SEO copy is EIGHTEEN additional words and, like the Dare listing that started me down this cursed pathway, lists another author in the title. What the shit.

Also, small question: how did TikTok make anyone buy it if it isn’t out until November 2024, aka seven months from now?

I mean, I get why these titles exist. You don’t have to explain it to me; I completely understand the reasoning and the result.

THEY ARE STILL ABSURD.

What SEO-driven unputdownable sizzling dazzling breathtaking shocking addictive cozy TikTok sensation Book Titles have you seen?

 



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