Author Blogging 101: Simple SEO for Authors, Part 1

by Joel Friedlander on March 19, 2012 · 20 comments

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SEO.

When you first hear it, you wonder if it’s a type of bank loan, a new athletic conference, or a word coined by digital teens for “see you.”

Soon, of course, you find out it stands for “search engine optimization.” But maybe even after you find that out, you’re still clueless.

But SEO can be a powerful tool in the author blogger’s arsenal. What it really represents is the chief weapon you have in the competition for the second kind of traffic you bring to your blog.

Just to refresh your memory, there are three kinds of traffic you can get to your blog or website:

  1. organic traffic, from links in content
  2. search engine traffic, in response to search queries
  3. paid traffic, driven by ads or paid links.

The first two are most important for bloggers, and are where most of us start. Paid traffic can become an important part of your strategy, but you need a foundation in how all this stuff works before you start spending any money at all on getting traffic.

Luckily, the quantity of traffic you can get from organic links and search queries is so vast, you may never need to pay for visitors.

In an earlier article we discussed the varieties of organic traffic and how you can draw people to your blog with links placed strategically around the web.

Now it’s time to learn the basics of SEO traffic. Once you learn some of this I promise your blog will never be the same again. And you’ll start seeing the blogs and websites you visit quite differently, too.

Starting at the Beginning

To start off with, we have to realize that all SEO is connected to this one simple fact:

When people are looking for information online the first thing they do is fire up a search engine toolbar and start creating searches.

When you enter your search query in the search bar (for Google, Bing or any other search engine) and hit “Enter” you’ll be presented with the first page of “results” or places the search engine thinks you’ll find what you’re looking for.

How does that happen? How do those sites—and not others—get on that list, and specifically, on the first page of results?

Today, it’s probably because the author (or professional SEO hired by the owner of the site) has optimized their articles or their site for search engines.

In other words, they’ve tried to make it super clear exactly what questions they are answering.

Building Blocks of SEO

If you have a blog you may have already run into a lot of the terms used in simple SEO. These make up the basic building blocks we’ll be using in our SEO strategy. You’ll need to understand these to get anything out of your efforts:

  • Keywords—the terms people type into the search bar when looking for something
    Example:
    There are specific keywords or phrases people use to find the kind of information you are writing about. Do you know them? Without some research, it’s likely that you don’t or even if you’ve got an insight into the keywords used in your subject area or niche, you might be surprised at which forms of those terms people use the most.
    For instance, in the self-publishing field there are lots of keywords people use to find information. Here are some:

    • “publishing a book”
    • “publish a book”
    • “self-publishing”
    • “self publishing” (without the hyphen)
    • “indie publishing”
    • “how to publish a book”

    Some forms are used much more often in searches, and part of your SEO skill will be working out the best keywords for your particular site.

  • Links—the way one website connects to other websites
  • Example:
    Links (or hyperlinks) contain the web address (or URL) of the site being linked to. Clicking the link takes you to the other site. Links are what holds the web together. In fact, you could think of the world wide web as a network of links. Otherwise, how would you get from one location to another?
    Links can be placed in different ways:

    • With the URL as the link, like this: http://www.wikipedia.org
    • Through a text link, where the URL is “hidden” behind a specific phrase or word, like take me to Twitter
    • Attached to a graphic, like a banner ad, sidebar badge or “buy now” button. Here the URL is also hidden from view. Here’s an example:
      Twitter button

  • Anchor text—the actual text used to create a link
    Example:
    As we saw, text can be used as a link. In the example take me to Twitter the text “take me to Twitter” is used as the anchor for the link, so that’s the anchor text.
  • Referring site—a site that contains a link to another site
    Example:
    This is the site that contains the links. For instance, all the links on this page have my blog as the referring site, since they all originate here.
  • Target site—a site linked to by a referring site
  • Example:
    This is where the link will take you. In my take me to Twitter example, Twitter.com is the target, because that’s where you’ll go if you click the link.

  • Domain name—the URL of a website, specifically the part before “.com” or “.net” or “.org” etc.
  • Example:
    There are lots of different ways to look at domain names, and it pays to put some thought into this when you get started. When you realize that people linking to your blog will always be using your domain name (as part of the URL the link is pointing at) you can see it’s worth some time.
    Here are some examples. Some are more effective than others, and when you study keywords this will be immediately apparent.

    1. thebookdesigner.com
    2. marketingtipsforauthors.com
    3. mickrooney.blogspot.com
    4. selfpublishingreview.com

  • Scannable—text that’s broken up with lists, subheads and other aids to make it easy to take in what the post is about from a glance
  • Example:
    This post contains bullet lists, numbered lists, subheads and highlighted quotes. All of these help to signal what the text is about and how it’s organized. This helps both human readers and search engines.

  • Page rank—a measure of a website’s general level of influence and authority, as determined by Google.
  • Example:
    Google assigns a Page Rank to every web page, from 1 to 9. Google.com is a page rank 9 site, and your blog when it starts is a page rank 1 (or 0 if there is such a thing.) This can be helpful to know because it’s commonly accepted that links from higher page rank sites have a more beneficial effect on your own ranking and authority and, therefore, your potential placement in search results.

  • Link juice—authority or influence passed from one website to another through a link
  • Example:
    The implied authority or influence that passes with a link from one site to another, depending on their page rank and authority.

Understanding these terms is important to gaining SEO traffic, and I hope the examples make each term crystal clear.

Once you learn these elements of SEO you’ll be ready to “optimize” your own articles, blog posts and web pages, allowing them to reach their search engine potential.

Next time we’ll look at how these elements of SEO play out in the real world of your blog posts.

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Marta May 10, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I still am lost on how to SEO!

    Reply

    Silver Knight February 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for this info Joel. I’ve been building websites for first time authors. This article has just the right amount of info to get the author’s feet wet with the SEO lingo.

    Reply

    kashish March 22, 2012 at 12:54 am

    SEO is the process getting your site a higher rank in the search engine listing. This optimization is done so as to increase the site traffic and increase the number of visitors to your website. A customized SEO Services increases the website exposure across all major search engines.
    http://www.bestseotraininginstitute.com/article-SEO-training-Institute

    Reply

    Navneet March 21, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Tremendous stuff to read for bloggers. You really did a great job by sharing such kind of informative article. Its really appreciable….!!!

    Reply

    Sean Spaulding March 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I think the reason “social media” traffic isn’t cited as a source is due to it being vulnerable to the user. Social site are far less likely to be indexed nowadays, plus simply having a plethora of “status updates” and/or posts won’t necessarily drive traffic as default……Nice introductory post!

    Reply

    Govind Choudhary March 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    That was really great info,some terms are new to me an learned that thanks for it.Waiting for your next post :)

    Reply

    Ryan Hanley March 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Joel,

    I noticed that you didn’t include Social Traffic as one of your sources… Was that on purpose?

    Thanks

    Ryan H.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Yes, that’s a good point, Ryan. I generally consider traffic from some social sites as organic, and some as referral traffic. But I suppose you could make a case for a fourth kind of traffic, specifically from sites like Digg.com or Stumbleupon.com which doesn’t really fit either category, and which takes a different kind of strategy.

    Is that what you were thinking of?

    Reply

    Nick Thacker March 19, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Good post, Joel. SEO is definitely helpful, but it’s also pretty challenging.

    Just the fact that there’s usually a significant time period between when changes are made and those changes are reflected on SERPs makes SEO like pulling teeth!

    Having a strong SEO foundation is paramount, of course, and you’ve nailed down the basics here. To expound, I’d say that one of the best ways to develop SEO (specifically the links part) is through guest posting, using strategic anchor text placement in the post linking back to your own site.

    Doing this enough, for large enough (PR 5+ sites), will GREATLY enhance the incoming “link juice” from the Big G.

    And, of course, it helps get your name out there for people, too!

    Thanks for the great post, Joel! Talk to you soon!
    Nick

    Reply

    Louis Shalako March 19, 2012 at 6:00 am

    I’ve just submitted my blog to a number of different search engines, which I found by typing key words into the search field. Since they are free, why not do it? And those that want money, I ignore. Thanks for the tip about being ‘scannable,’ which I’ve never thought about before, and in fact, rarely if ever write posts that way.

    Reply

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