Author Blogs—Getting Started

by Joel Friedlander on April 14, 2010 · 18 comments

thebookdesigner.com and author blogs

In an earlier post I wrote about how nonfiction authors can begin to use keywords related to their book to attract readers. This article takes this information farther, into your author blog.

I’m convinced that one of the very best things a nonfiction author can do is to start blogging as soon as she can. This will accomplish several things. You will:

  • Begin to attract readers interested in your subject specialty
  • Build your authority in your specialty
  • Establish yourself in the niche your book occupies

Domain Name: Your First Decision

Opinion is divided on whether authors will get the best results by using their own name as the domain name for their blog, or whether they should use the title of their book. Nonfiction authors have added possibilities, because any of the long tail keywords connected with your book can also make excellent domain names.

In my earlier post I used the example of an author with a book on how to bake pizza at home. One of the long-tail keyword phrases we came up with was “making pizza dough” which showed over 5,000 searches a month on Google. Think of how effective a blog or website would be if it were located at http://www.makingpizzadough.com. Assuming you filled this blog with appropriate content, every instance of your blog name would reinforce the connection between your blog and this search phrase.

It’s also a good idea to try to secure the domain name of the title of your book, or variations close to it. For instance, for our pizza-making book, we’ll think carefully before we create the title. If our publisher plans to market largely online, the keyword research tools we discussed before will be extremely valuable.

A blog located at Authorname.com may be gratifying, and it will help your name rise in search results. But this approach lacks the essentials for an effective domain name: It contains no words that describe what your books are actually about, and it contains no keywords connected to your niche.

Go ahead and get the domain of your name if possible, but keep it as a central location pointing to your blog or other websites, and make sure to let people know how to connect with you on social media.

Links and Anchor Text

Having an important keyword phrase in your domain name will help you in another way as well. Every time you create a link to your blog—for instance in your signature on a forum, or in your social media profiles—you will be using the blog address as the anchor text for the link. This text is emphasized for search engines as well as humans, so each occurrence will also reinforce your connection to your subject area.

The Marketing Mix

When you start to think about keywords and your book, it will help you understand the way your potential readers think when they are looking for information in your specialty area. What do people look for? What phrases do they type into the search bar to find what they’re looking for?

You can see that coordinating the title and subtitle of your book with your domain name and the name of your blog can have profound effects on the long-term success of marketing your book online.

And remember that self-publishing really becomes effective when you start to publish your second book on your subject. You will have already established some presence and authority in your field, and this makes marketing your second book much easier, since it “stands on the shoulders” of the books that have gone before. It’s a great way to multiply your efforts.

Just the Beginning

Naming your domain is crucial, but it’s just the first step. In the next post in this series I’ll talk about how to use your keywords in your blog, and tips on creating a blog that helps you create the kind of online presence your book needs to succeed. Stay tuned.

Resources

The Savvy Book Marketer
Here’s a link to a great collection of articles and links from Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, that cover author blogs and websites:
Author Blogs and Websites

The Creative Penn
Joanna Penn has just written a post on author blogs, check it out here:
How to Blog for Authors and Writers

The Internet Writing Journal
Interesting article (from 2005) by Claire E. White on the pros and cons of author blogs, and what makes a good one.

I’d love to hear about other resources on this subject, so use the comments to let me know of your favorites and I’ll add them to this resource list. Thanks!

Photo: iStockphoto.com

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    { 13 comments… read them below or add one }

    Michael N. Marcus April 20, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Right. And Google searches for “bookmakingblog,” “bookmaking blog” or “book making blog” all show the blog in the first position. (Of course I don’t know if anyone searches for the blog’s name, as opposed to a subject covered in a blog post, such as “Outskirts Press.”)

    I’ve always found it strange that there are people who search for a url for a website when they know a company name.

    My main business is AbleComm, Inc. Its url is http://www.ablecomm.com. Some of my competitors pay for Google adwords to catch people who search for “ablecomm” instead of just typing “ablecomm.com” in the main browser window.

    If those companies are willing to pay money to reach shoppers who are too stupid to try using a business name as a url, they can have those customers.

    Reply

    Joel April 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Michael, good point. So I guess you’re saying that the blogspot.com part of your domain doesn’t have any impact on search engines? Good to know.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus April 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

    It’s important to keep in mind that a website or blog can have an easy-to-read, easy-to-remember, search-engine-friendly name that’s different from its less-friendly url.

    With a good name, the url almost doesn’t matter.

    “Book Making” is the name for my http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com
    “For The First Time (or the last time)” is the name for my http://4thefirsttime.blogspot.com/
    “Red Hot Phones” is the name for my http://www.redhotphones.com
    “Get A Batphone” is the name for my http://www.getabatphone.com

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus April 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    About backlinks (inbound links):

    Google interprets a link from Peter’s site to Sally’s site as a “vote” in favor of Sally.

    It can take years to accumulate enough backlinks to put a site on page-1 of a Google search without intervention, but there are ways to speed up the process.

    (1) If you have multiple websites, they can each link to the others. I have about 40 websites and blogs, and when I launch a new one, it immediately has dozens of backlinks. I’ve had cases where a new site achieved a top-10 position on the first day the site existed. I realize that most people won’t have 40 sites, but 4 is a realistic possibility. Every link helps — probably even a link from Facebook, Linkedin or your alumni association.

    (2) If you have only one website, ask friends and associates to link to the page you want to promote. You may discover backlinks you didn’t ask for. My BookMakingBlog links to this blog, but Joel didn’t ask me for it.

    (3) Make sure that you include links in the body or “signature” of postings in blogs or forums like this one.

    There are more than 27,000 Google links for my book, “Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy: The Strange Story of Vanity Publisher Outskirts Press. How do they stay in business?” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661726.

    But, more important than links to the title, the book shows up on the first page of links in searches for Outskirts Press — currently in the #10 position out of 693,000 links. I want the book to be bought by people who are considering using Outskirts Press even if they don’t know my book exists; and the high Google position should reach them.

    The first Google link for the book is for my blog http://www.bookmakingblog.blogspot.com, and ahead of the link to the book on Amazon.com, and ahead of the blog written by the CEO of Outskirts, and ahead of Outskirts’ press releases.

    My bookmakingblog is “spidered” every day by Google’s robots, and a new item is usually on Google within minutes of my publishing it.

    I have no secret formula and I’m not writing this to brag, just to point out the possibilities — without spending thousands on advertising.

    Reply

    Joel April 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Fantastic input, Michael thanks so much for doing this teaching. Certainly, as you say, it’s no secret, but when people are starting out, it’s a complete mystery what’s going on and why.

    Also terrific that you’ve been able to get your book on Outskirts “in the face” of people considering their services.

    Not sure how you manage to run your empire, that’s amazing. And thanks for the link!

    Reply

    Joel April 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

    BubbleCow, thanks for that. Backlinks are a crucial part of this whole effort, and I hope to cover those more in subsequent articles.

    Keefieboy & Michael, I’ve always wondered about the hyphenated domain names and whether you lose traffic by adding the hyphens. But Michael’s idea of doing both and running a redirect from one to the other seems like it might be the best of both worlds. Thanks for your contribution.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus April 16, 2010 at 8:13 am

    To Keefieboy:

    making-pizza-dough.com is definitely search engine friendly, but hyphenated URLs can be hard to remember properly and confusing for “regular customers” to find.

    The best solution might be to use the hyphenated URL for the website, but also use the unhyphenated form as the name shown on the site. Register the unhyphenated form and arrange for people who type the unhyphenated form to be automatically sent to the hyphenated site.

    Reply

    Keefieboy April 16, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I would suggest that making-pizza-dough.com is more search engine friendly than makingpizzadough.com.

    Reply

    BubbleCow April 16, 2010 at 1:36 am

    For me one aspect many bloggers fail to understand is the importance of back links. Google rates the importance of blogs by how many people link to that blog. In addition, not all links are equal. Google sees a link from a wiki article as a far more powerful link then one from you or I.

    Reply

    Joel April 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Christy, I think it’s partly persistance over time that seems to gradually build up traffic and, as you say, having good content to begin with. I want to keep writing about this because I think a lot of authors who are about to go into self-publishing just have never thought about it. They come with expertise in another area, and there’s a lot to learn. Thanks!

    Reply

    Christy Pinheiro April 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Great post Joel. I think that as long as the content is sound and you update the blog regularly, the website/blog will generate all the traffic organically over time. My publishing blog gets a good number of hits, but my self-publishing website gets a hundred hits a day and sometimes more. If the content is good, people will find you.

    Reply

    Joel April 14, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Michael, thanks for that. I agree that content and the keywords within your content is the most important component. I’m really aiming this at educating people who may never have thought of keywords at all and how they might start to be cognizant of the importance of planning these things out in a more orderly way.

    For instance, on your own blogs, you’ve got 911Wackos which seems like a pretty good keyword for what that blog covers. On the other side, you’ve got GottaGet1 which doesn’t really imply what might be inside.

    Have you found that the .blogspot.com domain influences how effective the “keyword in domain name” is? That would be interesting.

    Since I moved my blog to the current bookdesigner.com domain, I’ve gone to #8 on Google for “book designer” which is pretty fast, considering I’ve only been blogging about 8 months and don’t really do much promotion. I credit at least some of that to the keywords in the domain name itself.

    Thanks for contributing, Michael, always get something useful from your comments.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus April 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    It’s been years since a new web venture could get an eponymous domain name like pizza.com or bicycles.blogspot.com.

    Therefore, incorporating keywords into a domain name for a website or blog is probably less important than the appearance of keywords on the site or blog itself.

    For example, my http://BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com frequently slams Outskirts Press, and a Google search for “Outskirts Press” puts my blog in the #10 position out of about 154,000 links. Link #20 is for an April Fools press release spoof I wrote about Outskirts Press, and there are more than 6,000 other links that associate my blog with Outskirts Press.

    A search for the more obscure “Esquire Publications” gives my blog the #7 position out of 271.

    Since vanity publishers are frequent targets of that blog, I’d prefer it to reach people searching for those companies than my name or a URL.

    Because I have published eight books, I don’t give them individual websites, but they are included in my writing site, http://www.MichaelsWriting.com and my personal site, http://www.MichaelMarc.us

    I have one book-specific blog, http://real-self-publisher.blogspot.com, that is used for corrections, info on revisions, milestones, etc.

    Unless you have a memorable and significant URL like NBC.com or Walmart.com, I think it’s more important to concentrate on content that will be spidered by Google every day and available to people searching for significant words on the site.

    Reply

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