A week doesn’t pass by without an author asking us how they can improve their website visibility. It’s incredibly important for authors and often neglected amidst the lure of Twitter, facebook and other social networking sites, but here’s the thing. Improving the organic visibility of your website by attracting readers who are genuinely interested in your genre can make a massive impact on the number of books an author sales. Simply using a bullhorn on facebook or Twitter is not only time consuming, but more and more people are hitting the mute button.
If you’re someone who starts shaking when it comes to promoting your website or SEO leaves you tongue tied, don’t panic, it really is very easy to do and for a minimal investment of your time the result can be staggering. Before we get started though, let’s just be clear on a couple of points. The first is that building an organic presence (one where potential readers discover your site through a search engine like Google) takes time and you should assess your success over a 3 month period. Secondly, content is king!
Now, here at BookViral, we always believe in keeping things simple and there really are only 6 key actions you need to take. Here we go..
- If you want to stand out you have to produce engaging and original content that’s regularly updated and provides your potential audience with a genuinely interesting reader experience. If your content fails to engage, you won’t build a loyal following for your site. The simple fact is that when readers find resources interesting and informative, they are far more likely to engage with future content and share your words among their own networks. This is the basis of all important link building which in turn encourages new visitors to your site and potentially turns them into new readers and fans of your books. Google and the other major search engines love quality content and reward it by pushing the originating site higher up its search rankings. In short, this means more visibility for you and your books.
- You need to get more related sites to link to your website. This is known as creating inbound links and they help search engines clearly define your niche. They can also increase the trust and authoritative quality of your site which will give your site a high degree of credibility. The caveat here is that inbound links must be from sites that are performing well. Again, you must produce engaging and original content, because why invest time leading targeted visitors to your site if you can’t get them to stay?
- In addition to inbound links you need to build your internal links, these are links that lead your visitors from one page or post on your website to another. Far too often these are neglected, but think of them as guides gently steering visitors through your website, keeping them engaged with relevant and related content. You managed to hook them with an interesting post title, now you want to keep them. They also contribute to site links, which are the sub-links that appear in a search engine below your main page link. Again the fundamental element to making these work for you is writing great content which is not only interesting, but powerful enough for them to want to share on their own sites or through their social media accounts. Combined, internal and outbound links help search engines build a greater understanding of the content on your site and determine how engaging it’s likely to be to your visitors, but as always there’s a caveat. You need to use linking appropriately. Excessive and in particular poor quality linking, will likely reduce the credibility of your site and could be penalized by search engines.
- Crucial to developing your own SEO strategy is understanding what works for those sites that have already built a significant following. Publishing is an extremely competitive business to be in and fellow authors are your competitors. Understanding your competitors’ marketing strategy and learning what works for them isn’t something you can ignore if you’re serious about growing your readership. We could list several reasons why analysing your competition matters, but the most important is that competitor analytics allows you to benchmark and put your own site analytics into context. There are a host of tools and services out there which can help you do this, but you should make Google Analytics your starting point. They take a matter of minutes to set up and will provide you with a clearer understanding of what metrics are important, which of your pages are working for you and an informed indication of industry trends. As the old adage goes, knowledge is power and in this case it helps inform your overall marketing strategy, helping you choose the content likely to feature high on Google’s search results and helping to increase the number of high value visitors to your site.
- By doing a little keyword research you can understand what your audiences are searching for. Think in terms of supply and demand. Find out what your potential visitors want and give it to them. Keyword research is simply learning to speak your customers’ language and how they ‘speak’ when searching the web. Again there are many tools out there to help you in your research, but we suggest starting with Googles Adwords Keyword Planner Tool. It’s free to sign up and you don’t have to spend any money to use the analytics they offer. Once you’re comfortable with the concept and the way keywords work you can optimize your site for them.
- With the continuing evolution of the publishing industry, SEO is a critically important element of your marketing strategy. It deserves a significant amount of your time and is ignored at your peril, but SEO shouldn’t just be about promoting your website. It’s also about making your site better for your future readers and fans who can use it to connect with you. Developing an SEO strategy that ignores the personal touch and fails to provide a meaningful user experience will drastically reduce your ability to attract visitors and ultimately convert them to readers.
So there it is, short and to the point, we hope you find it useful and as usual we always appreciate your thoughts and any feedback you care to give us.