In Creating an Author Website: Part 1, we discussed the basics of what to include on your author website. Now, we’ll discuss how to make the site work for you and users of your site. You want to capture readers’ attention and then keep them coming back again and again to purchase your book and your next one and other products or services you sell along with it. To accomplish that feat, we’ll start with author website SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
Author Website SEO Basics
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo help searchers find useful information to their questions. Content listed high in the search results is based on relevance AND popularity. Let’s tackle relevance first.
To find the best sites to present for an individual search query, robots and spiders regularly “crawl” your site for content. Search engines look for information that is most relevant and matches best to a searcher’s request. It is important to have a focus for your website or blog to help search engines understand who would value your information. If you don’t know what the focus of your website is all about, neither will the search engines.
Include keyword-rich content throughout your site on static pages (your site’s main pages) and in blog posts. If your topic is life coaching, include keywords that potential clients would search for like “how to get a better job,” “how to maximize my potential,” or “life coaches in Delaware.” Your book title and description should ideally include keywords to attract readers, as well. Include the keywords naturally in your content, in the URL of your pages, in header tags, and the ALT tags of your pictures or graphics. I say naturally because it is counterproductive to stuff your site with keywords that don’t describe a page or overuse them to fool the search engines. The robots are smarter than we are.
Use categories and tags effectively on your blog posts. My blog categories are “writing,” “self-publishing,” “book marketing,” and “creativity.” I don’t blog about my vacation or my family or anything else unless it directly relates to one of these topics. I use tags on each post to help readers and search engines determine the specific topic of each post.
If you aren’t sure about which keywords are relevant, you can find keyword tools like the one on WordStream or sign up for Google AdWords and use the keyword tool as if you are creating an ad. You can also experiment by typing potential keywords into the Google search box and see the results they generate.
While relevance is the first step to getting found, popularity is the second. Once you include topics and keywords relevant to users, Google and other search engines judge your site by a couple of things.
There are internal, inbound, and outbound links. The internal links connect to other content on your site. For example, many readers of this blog post may also be interested in book marketing. I link to my blog post on how to sell more books and am rewarded for it. Outbound links connect users with relevant information on other sites, like the link I used for WordStream above. The first goal is to give the reader more useful information, but it helps establish credibility. The best of all is when another trusted site, like HuffPost.com, for example, links to content on your site. Google and other search engines value links to and from trusted sites. Similar to keywords, link stuffing can harm your ranking. Also, links that appear above the fold (in the top portion of the website) receive higher points.
You might have heard the term UX design. What it really means is how the user interacts with your site and how much they like it. Does the page load quickly, or is it sluggish? Is it easy to navigate, or is it loaded with ads? Do users go back to the search results to find better information? According to Anthony Davies, a UX designer, user experience design incorporates these factors:
- Utility (usefulness)
- Usability (ease of use)
- Appealing (aesthetically attractive and uncluttered)
- Engaging (enjoyment of use, encouraging an appetite for repeat use)
Search engines place a value on sites that hit on all of these points.
Regularly updated content is more likely to be ranked higher than old, static content. Search engines AND people like fresh information that is current and updated. A blog is a great way to introduce valuable content regularly. You can find out more tips on successful blogging here.
Get more people to click on the link to your site from the search engine results by including a teaser description of the content included on each page and each blog post. The more people click on your link, the more likely the search engines will continue to put you at the top of the rankings. You can easily update the page or post description with a WordPress blog by using the free plugin Yoast SEO.
For more information, check out the SEO experts at Moz. Get more information about maximizing your author website SEO.
Perhaps you don’t have the technical skills to accomplish all of this, and you don’t have the money to spend on someone to do it all for you. What’s most important? Write great content. Solve the reader’s problem. Inspire them, entertain them, make them happier (richer, thinner, healthier, more productive), or let them know they aren’t alone. Give them hope that there is a solution…and you are it.
Stay tuned for more with Creating an Author Website: Part 3. Click here if you missed Creating an Author Website: Part 1 and get your career as an author on the right track. In the comments below, what has been your most effective author SEO trick? What has been your biggest struggle?