As book marketing and the building of author platforms continues to grow online, there’s never been a more crucial time for self publishers and independent authors to have an effective author website.
At the heart of your author platform is your website or blog, which is your ‘hub’. It’s where your social media traffic, live event audience, readers and reviewers arrive to find out more about you and buy your book.
These are all critical aspects of any substantial author platform, yet there is another avenue for getting more traffic back to your author website, and more traffic means more potential buyers and avid readers.
It’s called ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ or ‘SEO’ for short. This is a strategy used to get articles, blog posts and website pages visible to search engines; namely Google.
(Note: I’ll be continuing to refer to Search Engine Optimisation as “SEO” and I’ll use “Google” as the primary search engine example, as it’s the king of the search engines and makes up for the majority of online search traffic.)
How it works, in a nutshell
When someone types words or phrases into the ‘Google search box’, a stack of search results displaying articles, blogs and pages are displayed relating to the topic being searched for. Then the person looking for information will click on any of those search results they think will contain the most applicable information for them. You’ve done this yourself when looking for the name of that new song or cooking recipes.
Let’s use an example:
If you type ‘Plants and Flowers’ into the ‘Google search box’ a stack of search results will be displayed relating to that phrase. Now if you had a book on Plants and Flowers, it would be ideal for your website to be visible to those people searching in Google for specific information on ‘Plants and Flowers’. What’s great about these people searching for this topic is that they’re already interested in the subject.
But, when you type in ‘Plants and Flowers’ your website isn’t coming up. Why?
It’s because your website is not Search Engine Optimised, which ultimately defines how visible your website is to Google. Those other garden websites that have good SEO will be favoured by Google and placed in the top search results ahead of yours. What you want of course, is to have your website appear on the page in the top search results ahead of these other garden websites, so people can find your website and ultimately buy your book on ‘Plants and Flowers’.
There could be hundreds of people a month typing the phrase ‘Plants and Flowers’ into Google. Can you imagine all those people finding your website? That’s a lot of traffic and potential book buyers! What’s more, they’ll find your website even when you’re asleep.
Quick overview of the steps
From the example above, you can now see how SEO can benefit authors in order to sell more books and the potential there is to really fuel your book sales and author platform.
These few basic principles will take you through finding related keywords that are being searched for in Google. When keywords are researched correctly and inserted properly in your website pages and blog posts, you’ll be setting up your website for Google success.
Step 1: Keyword research
Use the free Google keyword tool to find keywords that are related to your book. You want to focus on keywords that are ‘long-tail’, meaning the actual ‘phrase’ being typed in such as ‘Plants and Flowers‘ and not simply ‘Flowers‘. Our example ‘’Plants and Flowers‘ is actually considered as ‘one’ keyword and not three separate keywords. Be sure to keep this in mind.
Look for these ‘long-tail‘ keywords to have at least a few hundred searches a month to make it worthwhile. Long tail keywords will be less competitive, meaning that there’s less websites out there trying to rank highly on the Google results page for the same keyword. In the Google Keyword Tool mentioned above, stick to keywords with either ‘low‘ or ‘medium‘ competition. The Google Keyword Tool page clearly shows you a column with this competition indicator.
Remember: High search volume, with low competition levels. This is the key.
Step 2: Inserting keywords in your pages and blog posts
Once you have a few keywords that match this basic criteria, you want to focus on what is called ‘On-Page SEO‘. This is where your keywords are inserted in your website pages and blog posts. So using our example ‘Plants and Flowers’, you’ll want to include this keyword in your blog post ‘Title’, ‘first paragraph’ (in Bold), ‘last paragraph’ and again somewhere throughout the blog post.
Don’t stuff your post with the keyword, it doesn’t do any good and Google will penalise you. Don’t bold every second word either, again this doesn’t have any added benefit and will annoy readers. This doesn’t make for a pleasurable reading experience.
Make sure to include the keyword in your blog post ‘keywords box’ and the ‘description box’ before publishing your finalized blog post. The same applies for website pages. This is the basic best practice of correctly using keywords in your website posts and pages, so Google can better measure the relevance of your blog post or page for those searching on your related topic.
Step 3: Creating quality content
The next step is to be consistent with creating quality content, ideally at least twice a week. You ideally want each blog post to be focused on a specific keyword and the more SEO blog posts you have, the more chance people will discover you in Google.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint – much like book marketing. Stick to this basic process, be patient and you’ll start seeing results. SEO will help your author website get ahead of the majority of websites, authors and bloggers out there.
Keep up the hustle and stay visible!