Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something most authors refuse to consider. And yet, with the world’s continued reliance on Google and Amazon, a basic understanding of SEO is crucial if authors are to drive traffic to their website and increase book sales.
The primary goal of using SEO is to make sure your website comes up on the first page of Google search results—for, unless driven by absolute desperation, nobody clicks on page 2. SEO is not as complex or confusing as it seems (although Digital marketing specialists would disagree). The trick is to focus on the basics.
01. Maintain a Professional Website/ Blog
In this digital world, writing books simply isn’t enough to be an author. If your book is to discover its readers, then an author website or blog is essential. This will be the place where your readers find you, follow you on your journey as a writer, and establish a connection with you. With a functioning author website, you can easily promote and market your books to your readers.
02. Include Keywords
Amid billions of websites on Google, and millions of book listings on Amazon, being discovered by your target audience requires a little bit of effort—effort that doesn’t end with creating an author website.
You need to think like your reader. How will a reader search for your book? What genre does it belong to? What are the keyphrases that match the theme of your book? Answering these questions will help you figure out the main keywords related to your book, which you can then include in your meta-descriptions and pages in the website. These keywords can also be used in your book description and author bio on Amazon to improve search results.
Metadata, in SEO, gives the overview and summary of webpage content. Therefore, including keywords in your website’s metadata will increase its findability and will entice users to click through to your site. The higher your website’s click-through-rate, the higher you go in Google’s search result ranks.
03. Add Fresh New Content to Your Website
A stagnant author website isn’t going to make its way up Google’s search result rankings. But blogging regularly and adding fresh new content with relevant keywords can drive traffic towards your website. When there are frequent updates about the progress of your books, even existing fans will make it a habit to visit it regularly. Besides blogging, podcasting is also a fun way to keep in touch with your readers!
04. Use Shorter Paragraphs
Studies have shown that most readers simply skim through blog posts to find what they’re looking for instead of reading word-by-word. Shorter paragraphs and clearly separated sections beneath relevant headings in your posts will be appealing to your readers, and they’re more likely to explore the rest of your website.
05. Add ‘Alt Text’ for Images
Alt text, also known as alt attribute, is a small description that details what an image shows. It was originally developed to help the blind and visually impaired to understand what an image portrays, but it is also what appears in place of the image if it fails to load.
Alt text is important for SEO because search engines like Google and Bing cannot “see” image files and require an alt tag to determine what the image is about. In fact, according to Google’s Search Console Content Guidelines, “Google uses alt text along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject matter of the image… Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.”
06. Get an SEO Plug-In
To improve the readability of your content, installing an SEO plug-in will help optimize your blog post by giving relevant feedback. If you have a WordPress site, the Yoast SEO plug-in will take care of the technical side of your posts. According to Yoast’s website, “… our plugin helps you improve your content SEO by helping you set a keyphrase and telling you exactly how you can optimize your content to rank with this keyphrase. Lastly, our plugin helps you improve the readability of your content by providing feedback that you can easily incorporate into your own writing style.”
Even with a good SEO strategy, shooting up Google’s search results ranking is not something that would happen overnight. It takes time and practice, and a lot of good content, to achieve this feat—but it’s absolutely worth it in the end.
07. Include Inbound and Internal Links
Internal links are links that direct the reader to another article within the same site, prompting them to explore the site further. Inbound links, on the other hand, are external sites that link to your website, which can even be from your own social media sites. Your social media followers will be compelled to click on the link to your website whenever you upload new content and share it with them.
But, more importantly, establishing yourself as an author can get you invited to speak on podcasts and to blog as a guest on someone else’s site—and these can serve as opportunities to promote your own website.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.