Thanks to author Connie Davis for this guest post!
For authors, search engine optimization (SEO) is all about getting your name into the public eye. By following some simple strategies, SEO can work to your benefit to bring readers to your website, your posts, and, by extension, to your book.
Here are tips you can use to drive traffic to your material:
Sure, people looking for you by name will be able to find you pretty easily with a quick Google search. But the people who already know your name aren’t necessarily the people you’re trying to bring to your website. Presumably, they already know of you, like you, or have bought and read your works and, in the best-case scenario, promoted your material on your behalf. But SEO will help you reach the people who are interested in your subject matter but don’t know you exist – yet.
Keywords are the words or phrases people type into search engines to help them find what they’re looking for. When someone enters a keyword into a search engine, a web crawler will look through and categorize the results in order of relevancy. For example, if you’ve written a book about genetically modified tomatoes, you want your name to come up when college student John Doe is desperately looking for sources the week before his thesis presentation.
Good places to use keywords are in headlines and frequently throughout the content of your site (including posts, etc.). Cramming your site with keywords isn’t exactly helpful, but using critical words organically in your posts will help your site’s rank move up.
Although search engines try to deny it, having a domain name relevant to your topic or genre can help your website move higher up in the list of results. Of course, having your own name as the website domain is preferable, but if that’s not an option try going with something related to your topic: In the example above, using: GeneticTomatoWriter, might be a good choice.
If you’re unable to monitor your site, you’ll never know whether or not it’s working. By using a program (Google Analytics is the Internet’s standard – and it’s free) to monitor traffic to your site, you can optimize your ad and social media campaigns to attract more readers. For example, Google Analytics can tell you what search words people are using that lead them to your website, allowing you to design posts, tweets and a variety of other content for easy promotion. If you see that many people are getting to your site by searching ‘evil corporation GMOs,’ you could cater your site’s keyword content to attract the anti-GMO crowd.
Always use good content – well thought out, clearly explained original ideas that tell readers what you’re all about. If you have a blog, use it to cover a range of keywords: ‘GMOs,’ ‘Flavr-Savr,’ ‘Monsanto’ or ‘pig gene’ will help people looking for a variety of information come to your site, instead of only those who are interested in your one specific topic.
Using headers in your blog posts instead of simply bolding headlines will help bring web crawlers to your site. Better than anything else, however, is networking and promoting the material of your peers through hyperlinks on your site, and guest posting on theirs. Basically, what you need to do is provide search engines with enough quality reasons to bring people from different backgrounds to your site.
Get involved in the online community. Comment on other blogs, friend people on Facebook or follow them on Twitter; connect on Linked In and Google+. By being involved, your name (and any links you leave behind) will move up on the resulting page ranks.
Proper SEO won’t make your website into an overnight phenomenon, but good practices, and steady content, will drive readers to your material and you.
Connie Davis is a contributing author for NerdWallet, a personal finance website, where you can find advice on a range of topics from managing credit debt to where to find coupon websites. (Graphic courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net)