Are you confused about SEO (search engine optimization)? If so, you’re not alone — almost every client we work with has questions about this topic. Luckily, we have an SEO expert right on staff here at Launch The Book, so Steve and I will be covering all of the basics every author needs to know about SEO over the coming weeks .
Here are some common questions we’re asked about SEO:
1. How do I get found in search engines?
This is undoubtedly the most common question we’re asked. Because Google is the market leader, we adhere to their webmaster guidelines which are broken down into three categories: design and content, technical and quality. If you have a website that is designed well (by this I mean the web code that Google “sees,” not what it looks like to humans), has good content, does not have any technical problems prohibiting Google from finding it or from users loading it in a timely manner, and if you provide quality value to your audience — you will be found in search engines, there’s no magic, it happens organically. How high you rank on various keywords depends on volume of competition and your site’s authority… which we’ll get into in more detail shortly in upcoming posts.
2. How do I optimize my site so it ranks above my competitors?
If you’re an author and you want to rank high above your competitors, first ask: “who are my competitors?” Let’s say you’re a romance novelist. We can assume you’ve identified other romance novelists as your competition, so it follows that you would want to rank high for the keywords “romance novels” — yes? Well … here’s where we get into a bit of a pickle. With competitive keyword searches like this, you’re going to have a steep hill to climb — the space is dominated by book sellers and popular book review blogs with massive audiences, reputation and traffic.
With this information in hand, think about optimizing your site for more niche keyword terms, for your name/pen name, and book titles … and then think about how people are using Google to find their next romance novel. Google thinks that the major review blogs hold the most relevance, so rather than spending all your time trying to beat them in search, perhaps working toward getting your book reviewed on one of these sites is a better use of your resources.
3. Do I need to add meta data — whatever that is — and submit my site to search engines?
These are tactics we used to use in the early days of the web, but Google is constantly changing its algorithm to make sure its results are useful to those searching. The meta data ‘keyword’ tag plays an insignificant role in how a site ranks, if any. Google ignores it. The meta tag ‘description’ is useful, as Google uses it to display a description of the URL in search results. ‘Submitting to search engines’, as some of the SEO charlatans want to charge you to do, is useless – with the exception of using Google’s Webmaster Tools, which we’ll also cover in a later session. In short, if you’re following the webmaster guidelines, Google will find you.
4. What do I need to do to optimize my author website for search?
We will get into this in a lot more detail in coming posts but Steve’s top advice is to focus on:
- Quality content – written for reading, not for search engines, not ‘spun’ content
- Page titles — make sure relevant keywords are in your titles
- Incoming links — links from other sites of authority related to your keywords (quality NOT quantity/spam)
- Link text – related to keywords rather than ‘click here’ (I am guilty of more than a few “click here” transgressions! lol)
- Reputation – growing number of incoming links, new content (easiest way to generate new content is to blog)
5. Why do I need to worry about SEO?
As an author, truth is, you probably don’t have to worry about SEO as much as some other businesses do. We know that people making book purchasing decisions online are doing so on Amazon, through word of mouth on social media and on reading communities and blogs. That said, if people know about your or your works, are sitting in an airport lobby and just want to do a quick search and find a “buy link” — we’ll want to make sure that your site is found and that sale is made. But getting there is fairly easy, by focusing on good content and design, making sure to eliminate any technical barriers, and providing quality to your users — you should rank high for your name and your book titles without much worry. Competition will probably include the major book sellers and getting from search to sale that way works just as well.
There are some tips and tricks and plugins that can make ranking your site high for your niche keywords even easier, and again we’ll be covering all of that in upcoming posts so please be sure to come back soon.
What are your questions about SEO? We would be delighted to answer them. Happy weekend, everybody!