By Miral Sattar (@miralsattar)
Google. It’s the black box that no one really knows what goes on in there. But it’s also the largest search engine in the world. When people search on the Web you want to make sure they find you if they “google” your name or your book
There are a number of things authors can do to optimize their presence to rank higher in search engines. Ranking higher will bring more visitors to your website or blog, allowing you to grow your email list and vastly increase your book marketing.
The science of optimizing content for search engines is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Here are 7 ways you can use the power of SEO to reach your goals in 2016:
1. Have a Blog and Blog Meaningfully
Having a blog is important because it’s the key way that people find out about books. When you type in an author’s name you want to make sure that the author’s website shows up on the first page of search results. You can control the message you send to people and have all the information about you and your books available to anyone who is looking.
It’s a good idea to blog to add value and not just to blog for the sake of blogging.
Two great examples of authors who blog effectively are David Gaughran and Joanna Penn.
2. Linking is Important
Linking (links from one site to another) is another critical element of SEO.
You want to make sure that people link back to your content, and that you link to theirs. A general rule of thumb I tell authors is to link to 3-5 sites in every blog post.
You want to let the folks you link to know you’ve linked to them so they can link back to you, too. When someone links back to your blog posts it’s basically a vote for your content.
Different sites are weighted differently. For example, if TIME.com happens to link back to you or Buzzfeed.com happens to link to you, that’s a huge vote for your blog.
A tool I love using is the Moz Link Tool. It tells you who is linking to your content.
Here’s a sample email template to send to a potential blogger who might link to you. Remember, keep it short and sweet and to the point.
I saw that you tweeted about Bibliocrunch’s NANOWRIMO inforgraphic on how to to stay motivated and write. I’m writing a similar blog post that will teach you how to stay motivated and write every day.
Would love to drop you a line when it goes live.
Sure, would love to know when it goes live.
As promised, here’s my article on how to stay motivated and write 10 minutes a day with a sample tweet.
Sample Tweet Text [url]
3. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a great way to establish yourself as an expert. You can always link back to your book or site in your bio that accompanies your article (like the bio at the end of this article).
We had an author, Hym Herself, who wrote a blog post on 10 Misconceptions about Mental Institutions for Cracked.com. She linked her book in her bio on the article and sold 1,000 copies in a few days.
She then wrote about her experience on Bibliocrunch.
4. Optimize your Blog for Google
You want to make sure that your blog is optimized for Google and gets “crawled” or visited by all the major search engines. You can download plugins like Yoast that will help you set up tags, title, keywords, and metadata. Another way to optimize your blog is with sitemaps.
Enable your sitemap
A sitemap is a structured listing of all the pages on your blog or website that tells Google and other search engines about the structure of your site. A sitemap also lets Google know when a new post is published so it can index it and add it to search results.
Here are a lot of ways you can get your content submitted to Google, including complete instructions: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6259634?hl=en
5. Write Good Headlines, Keywords and Metadata
Having a good title tag that tells what the blog is about will help make your content easy to search. I used to work at TIME and was in charge of all the SEO and one of my responsibilities included training journalists in SEO.
- Writers love using titles that don’t say anything about what the content is about.
- Good title: Amazon Stops Selling Hoverboards Over Safety
- Bad title: You Don’t Want to Buy This Dangerous Gadget
- Keywords: Have 5-7 keywords that describe your content. Examples would be: Amazon, hoverboards, hoverboard safety, Swagway, consumer safety
- Meta description: A short paragraph of what your content is about. This will show up in Google results. Example: “Several models pulled by online retailer Amazon over fire hazard fears. Leading hoverboard maker Swagway confirmed the online retailer is requesting companies manufacturing the popular devices to prove they are safe to use.”
6. Make Sure your Site is Mobile-Friendly
Because a lot of users now read on smartphones and other mobile devices, Google changed their algorithm in April 2015 to penalize any sites that are not optimized for mobile devices.
A good way to test if your site is mobile-friendly is by leveraging another of Google’s tools: You can just go to the link here and make sure to follow all their instructions.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool
7. Optimize your Amazon Pages
It’s no question that Amazon is one of the most well-indexed sites online. If you search for your book or your name it is likely that your Amazon page will show up much higher than your blog. To optimize your Amazon page there are a few things you can do:
- Make sure you have an Author Central account with your bio and picture filled out. Having an Author Central account will help you rank higher on Amazon.
- Connect your social media accounts to your Amazon Author Central page.
- Make sure your book has the relevant keywords you would use to find a book like yours.
There are no guarantees about mastering SEO as authors, but using these tips will definitely help you rank higher and make your books easier to find. Also check out this helpful infographic to keep all the information straight. Making Your Author SEO Work.
Miral Sattar is the CEO of Bibliocrunch, an award-winning marketplace that connects authors with vetted book publishing professionals like editors, designers, and marketers. Miral also runs an online video course series titled LearnSelfpublishingFast.