6 Simple SEO Tips for Authors

by | Aug 2, 2011

Lots of authors blog now, but blogging isn’t just about writing. There’s no way to avoid the technology side of blogging.

Although you can hire someone to take care of installing software and setting up elements of your blog, the responsibility for your regular blog posts falls on you, as the blogger.

For instance you have to set your own schedule and editorial focus. Beyond that, we all hope that through our blogging we’ll attract readers and eventually sell books.

Particularly for nonfiction authors, it really pays to learn how to optimize your blog posts for searchers. A few simple practices can help you attract the kind of people you want.

Simple SEO Practices for Authors Who Blog

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge field with practices that change regularly because search engines keep getting better at delivering quality links to searchers, and website owners continue to seek an edge over their competitors by trying to make their own site appear high in the search results.

Having said that, there are simple things you can do when you create blog posts or online articles that will help your rankings in the search engine results dramatically.

I do this often with the articles I write here, and I take it seriously enough that I’ve invested in some tools to help with SEO tasks. But there are a lot of things you can do quite easily if you know how.

To make this even easier to understand, I’ve broken it down into 6 items to pay attention to. Each of these is pretty simple to master and together they are going to help bring targeted readers to your blog.

Anchor text

This is the text that you use for a link, and it can be a powerful SEO tool if you use it properly.

For instance, if I want to put a link into an article about my blog, it might occur in a sentence like this:

click here for info on the great blog about books, thebookdesigner.com

But what part of that sentence should you use for the actual link? Many bloggers pay no attention to this, but look at the choices you have, and the effects of each.

click here for info on the great blog about books, thebookdesigner.com

With this choice you get the click, but nothing else.

click here for info on the great blog about books, thebookdesigner.com

Reinforces the domain name being linked to, so you get extra emphasis from that.

click here for info on the great blog about books, thebookdesigner.com

Bingo. This amounts to a vote for the website being linked to as a “great blog about books.”

When you create links, think about the text you use to anchor the link, and what it’s saying about the site you’re linking to. Anchor text is a special and powerful form of emphasis and using it well will help your search engine results.

This is also why getting a domain name with one of your keywords in it pays off in so many ways. Every time someone links to your site using your domain name—the most common form of anchor text—it’s another vote for your site as a good place for information on that keyword.

Link Juice

What I mean by juice is the authority and influence passed along through a link from a website with a higher ranking than yours.

So if you can obtain a link from a highly-regarded and high ranking website, some of their influence will pass on to you, raising your own profile in search.

How do you get link juice? There are lots of strategies, but the best way is to produce useful, essential, or mind-bendingly great content that everyone wants to link to, then market that content by letting people know about it. They will pass it along to their own networks of influence.

Title tag

This is another crucial element in your SEO efforts when writing blog posts. The title tag is an HTML field on your webpage or blog post that is scanned by search engines to determine the content of your article. It’s basically the headline you write for your article, but some blogging software also gives you access directly to the title tag.

That’s why you need to make sure the subject of your article and anything else you want people to link to appear in the title tag. This is where the keywords that are associated with your article need to show up in the title. Researching the keywords people use to find information about your subject is one of the most productive things you can do if you want to find more traffic for your blog.

First paragraph

Again, this is an important place that search engines will look for content information and emphasis. Putting a link in the first paragraph, and making sure you use keyword-rich anchor text and link to great content that’s directly related to your article—whether that content is your own or someone else’s—helps to powerfully reinforce the other SEO actions you’ve taken.

Link out

Providing links in your articles gives more opportunities to emphasize anchor text and to expand the reach of your article by providing more resources and related content to readers.

On my blog, for example, I’ll typically have 6 to 8 links in a 1,000-word article. Whether these are clustered in a “Resource” section or scattered throughout the text, they position the article in the sea of related articles and show how it connects to other writers, to other subjects, and to other articles here on the blog.

Link deep

Another way to use SEO tools for your own benefit and to help your readers is to make sure you link to your own posts on the same topic.

This might be as simple as mentioning related articles, but you can take it much further. For instance, you can essentially cast votes for one of your own articles by repeatedly linking it to it in subsequent posts.

For instance, I’ve also written on this subject when I addressed how nonfiction authors can use keyword marketing. The link in the preceding sentence points to one of those earlier articles.

And even if you have a blog, don’t neglect the affection that search engines have for well-organized hierarchical pages. With software like WordPress it’s as easy to create pages of evergreen reference material as it is to create daily blog posts.

Add structure by creating detail pages as sub-pages of your top-level pages, and you’ll get even more of an effect.

Conclusion—But it Never Ends

SEO is by its nature an ongoing and ever-changing study. As search engines continue to evolve, and as the efforts of optimizers continue to find ways to “game” the system, the rules and practices of search engine optimization will continue to change.

But understanding today’s best practices and putting them to use can have a dramatic effect on how popular your articles become, how many readers are sent to your site by search engines, and your audience growth or influence reach.

For more on this topic check out articles on Google’s Wonder Wheel for keyword research, self-publishing as a long-tail business, and metadata for self-publishers.

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15 Comments

  1. آموزش سئو

    Great post! Really appreciate seeing all of this information one place. Also, make sense about categories and tags.

    Reply
  2. search engine optimisation specialists

    Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell and gave
    it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic
    but I had to tell someone!

    Reply
  3. CS Severe

    Great advice! Thanks so much!

    Reply
  4. Richard Sutton

    Joel;
    Thanks again, for what is the most concise, to the point and least techno-gobbledygook filled explanation of adapting SEO to a blog site/post. All of this stuff is real-world practice every Indie Authors needs to bone up on and make part of their way of thinking about communication. Traditionally published authors, too, should take note.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Richard, that’s exactly what I was going for.

      Reply
  5. Lisa at Amalfi Blue

    I only just became aware of the importance of the 1st paragraph. I see some bloggers re-posting the same article but changing the first paragraph. I am sure Google will get around this at some point and disregard their efforts. :)

    Reply
  6. Jo Castro

    Thanks for some great pointers.

    Reply
  7. Robert Nagle

    I generally find that for content sites, spending too much time on SEO is wasted time. Sure, follow best practices– but don’t let SEO concerns dictate the organization and presentation of the text. SEO changes very quickly, and frankly it’s a headache having to keep up. I think the most important thing is to attract and keep readers. If your SEO optimized sites ends up interfering with readability, it’s not worth it, I say.

    Reply
  8. Robert Brumm

    Great tips Joel. Keep up the great work.

    Reply
  9. James

    Joel,

    Well and succinctly done. SEO is an elusive carrot, but worth learning about. The one piece of advice I give beginners looking to improve their knowledge is–find who’s doing it well, and try what they do. Your blog’s one of those I recommend studying.

    -James

    Reply
  10. Lois D. Brown

    Fantastic advice. Where do you get the time? Amazing.

    Reply
  11. S Wesley Steam

    Yet another very useful article. I learned much in this one!

    Thanks Joel!

    Reply
  12. SEO

    I m very thankful to the author for explaining such a good points.I m very glad to read these points as it help me alot to know about the blogging which is a new context for me.

    Reply
  13. bettymingliu

    joel, you are so helpful! thanks for explaining all this stuff. just a few more questions…do you fill out the meta description, meta keywords AND title tags? there’s also an excerpt box on my wordpress diy theme — should i fill that out too? thanks for making the seo issue clear in such a concise post. :)

    Reply
  14. onlineservices

    Don’t forget backlinks. A great domain, with good domain age, and on-page optimization only goes so far. You may need some serious link juice pointing back to you to get on page 1. Especially today.
    >>BUT I recommend hiring SEO professionals, if you want to be on top of any search engines.

    Reply

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