Why would we bother with a blog post on Easy SEO for Authors? Having worked with and advised thousands of authors, I’m certain that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the last thing on your mind—until now.
Selling books IS in your top 10 list of concerns. Getting found on Amazon and the Internet is a big part of selling books, and an author website is one of the best ways to get found. However, there are over 1.9 billion websites on the Internet (“only” 200 million are active), and getting found can be very difficult without attention to SEO.
Hence, Easy SEO for Authors.
Below are five things that you can do to help you get found on the Internet. Note that any work you do in your website to improve SEO will take time. Don’t expect to leap to page one of Google overnight. Page one is elusive, but with effort and time you can rank highly for certain keywords.
First, a few terms you should know before we start.
Easy SEO for Authors: Terminology
WordPress, Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, etc.: These are common website builder platforms and content management systems. They make it easy (or easier) to build a website and to enter and maintain the content (text, photos, etc.).
Plug-in, App, or Add-on: Something extra you need to install with your website building platform to make it easier to manage SEO. These may be free or require a purchase.
Google, Bing, Yahoo: These are the most common search engines: websites used to search for other websites. To keep this simple, we’re going to talk about Google because it’s used for 75% of Internet searches.
Page Title and Meta or Site Description: When you search for something in Google, the results are listed with the page title in blue/purple, the link under the page title, and then a brief description of the page. Not only does this text tell people what the webpage is about, it’s used by Google to locate relevant pages for the keywords entered.
Rankings: When you search for your book, your name, or your speciality, where does the first result that points to your website appear? If your name or book appears in the #1 position, read no further. If you’re on page 3 of search results, then you rank somewhere in the 30s. If you get to page 10 and nothing shows up, you’ve got work to do.
Keywords: How do we search for something in Google? We type a few words into the search bar. For example, to find this blog post on the Internet, perhaps you typed in “how to get found on the Internet.” You used keywords to find the blog post. Hopefully we showed up! A keyword phrase is a string of related keywords that make some sense. So, “how to get found on the Internet” is a keyword phrase. “SEO dogs Saturn organic antiques” is not (well, I guess it could be, but you get the drift).
5 Tips to Get Found on the Internet
1. Research keywords
As we said above, keywords are simply the words we type into a search bar to find something. Thus, when people are trying to find something (e.g., a book) on Google or Amazon, they will type in some keywords. Your job is to anticipate what they might type in. Here is an excellent article from IngramSpark on how to research keywords and where to use them as you market your book.
The first place you will need to enter keywords is when you set up your ISBN and put your book files on KDP and/or IngramSpark. These keywords are then used to categorize your books on Amazon and other retail platforms. So, don’t leave the job of researching keywords until the last minute; you need to put some time and thought into this task.
You will also use keywords in many places on your website. You’ll use a unique keyword phrase on each page of your website and in each blog post that you write.
Note that the IngramSpark article on metadata and keywords talks about Google Keyword Search as a tool for researching keywords. You can absolutely use this tool, but in truth, you don’t need to anymore. To keep things simple, try typing a keyword phrase into the Google Search bar in your browser. If this phrase has been used by other people, Google will give you some optional, related keyword phrases.
2. Set up the page title and meta description (also called site description) for every page and blog post
After researching keywords, setting up the page title and meta/site description is the most important thing you can do to get found on the Internet. If you don’t set these up, you’re leaving things to chance; Google will simply pick up whatever you called that page (e.g., My Bio, which doesn’t say much about who you are and won’t help you get found) and use it for the page title. Then it will pick up the first 160 characters that it finds on your page, which, in truth, could be gobblygook.
If you have a WordPress website, I suggest that you install a plug-in called Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO makes it very easy to enter the page title and meta description and warns you if the length of either is too short or too long. You can enter a keyword phrase that you want to use on this page, and it will suggest how you can better use the keywords to optimize SEO for that page.
If you are using another platform for your website, contact Support or look in the Help section for where you can specify the page title and meta or site description.
- You must use a unique keyword phrase on each page of your website, including blog posts.
- Your keyword phrase must be included in both the page title and meta description to optimize SEO.
- You should use the same keyword phrase a few times throughout the text of the page.
Any guesses what keyword phrase we used to optimize this blog post?
3. Produce new content with a blog
Stagnant websites, where the content never changes, are ranked lower by Google. So, if you throw up a website and never look at it again, your SEO will be affected. You also need to treat every page on your website as an opportunity to get found on the Internet. Therefore, the more pages your website contains, the more chances to get found!
Enter the blog. Blogs are a great way to:
- Drive traffic to your website (giving people a reason to visit your website more often), which also helps your website to rank higher.
- Use more keyword phrases. As each page must use a unique keyword phrase, you have more pages to use said keywords and more pages to rank.
- Show off your writing, promote your book and perhaps even collect content and ideas for your next book.
To maximize the potential of your blog ranking for popular keyword phrases, stay on top of relevant trends and current events and comment on them as soon as you can.
Your blog posts must be at least 300 words for Google to take notice. The optimum length is 900-1300.
4. Use your keywords wherever you can
If you have installed Yoast SEO on your WordPress website, it will provide suggestions of places to use your keywords, including:
- In your page “slug” – the URL of the page.
- In the ALT text of the image for your page. Be sure to include a “feature image” if you are using WordPress or embed at least one image in each webpage. When you upload the image to the website, you should be given an option to enter ALT text—the text that is displayed if the image cannot be displayed for some reason. Google picks this text up in its searches.
- The first paragraph on the page.
- The first heading/title (e.g., either an “h1” or “h2” level heading for those who know html).
5. Include links to other pages on your website
On every page, include a link to another page on your website. Google follows links to discover content and to rank this content in the search results. A post or page that gets a lot of links tells Google that it’s an important or high-value article and should rank higher in the search engine. With the right internal links, you’ll guide Google to the most important pages on your website.
You can also be nice and link to other people’s websites as well!
BONUS Tip: Social media
While social media does not directly impact your Google ranking, it can help in two ways:
- Social media drives traffic to your website. For example, if you post your most recent blog article on Twitter, people may click on the link and follow it to your website. The more traffic your website receives, the more Google will think, “Hmmm, maybe people find this website to be valuable. I’m going to pay more attention to it.”
- Twitter and LinkedIn profiles show up in Google searches. Therefore, if you have either or both of these profiles and someone searches on your name, they will show up in Google, most likely on the first page (unless your name is John Smith).
How Do I Know I’m Getting Found on the Internet?
There are two ways to determine if your efforts to improve your SEO are paying off:
- Do searches manually: Using some of your keyword phrases, do searches in Google. In your browser, open a private or incognito window that does not track your previous searches or location. Where does your website show up in the rankings? Page 1? Woohoo! Page 3? Not bad! Page 6? Keep trying.
- Analytics: If you have a WordPress site, you can install a plug-in that tracks visitors and page views. These are the stats that you want to monitor, at least to start. Are these numbers increasing? If you are using another website platform, these basic statistics should be included.
For more robust statistics, use Google Analytics, which involves inserting a tracking code on your website. Click here for instructions. Once you get proficient in using the Google Analytics dashboard, you can find out which page on your website gets the most views, which keyword phrases people are using to find your website, how much traffic your social media is sending to your website, and much, much more.
By this point you are probably thinking that there is no such thing as Easy SEO for Authors. It’s tough, I know. This article only touches the surface.
But as you read this blog post, you probably noticed some things, such as a number of outbound and internal links, repetition of phrases that perhaps sounded a bit awkward, and the length of the blog post. You may have found this blog post in Google, which means we’ve done a good job, or perhaps you found it on Twitter or LinkedIn.
In any case, you’ll see that SEO is doable with a few tweaks to every page. SEO is an on-going practice; pay attention to it and over time you will see results.