You became an author to share your stories with the world, but getting your books in front of your audience is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are ways you can market yourself and your books, and one essential piece of that puzzle is to ensure your author website is SEO friendly.
SEO (search engine optimization) can feel like a mysterious thing only the top internet marketers know how to do, but really it is just a case of tweaking your site and doing things in a certain way so that Google (and other search engines) will like it and show your site for relevant searches.
So how do you go about actually optimizing your author website?
- Ensure your site is actually registered with Google
Have you ever wondered how Google even finds your website? If you want Google to suggest your pages for keyword searches, it first needs to know it exists, which means it has to be listed in their index.
While you don’t have to register your site yourself (as Google will eventually find it independently when other sites link to yours), but you are better off registering it yourself. This guide will show you how to do just that.
- Make your pages SEO-friendly
If you’re building your site through a third-party like WordPress or Wix, you likely don’t need to worry about this. However, if you had a custom site built that’s not easy to manage on your own you may but be setting up your pages correctly.
Ensure you structure your pages with the correct headings, title, and meta tags. This is the data Google will look at first to understand what pages may help a searcher, so don’t forget to fill in your meta descriptions.
- Make your site user-friendly
Have you asked anyone else to look over your site? Your site must be easy to navigate – and that includes your menu navigation structure and the way your visitors “travel” through your site. Ask a few friends (or better yet, strangers on the internet) to look at your site and find out certain information or perform an action. Then, ask them how easy it was, if it felt intuitive, and what they liked or didn’t like. Google likes sites to recommend sites that visitors stay on for a while, so if your visitors are landing on your page, getting confused and then bouncing off, it is likely harming your chances of ranking high.
- Keep a blog
Many authors find the idea of writing a blog scary – what can they write about that the readers of their fiction books will care about? The best way to answer this question is to talk to your readers whenever possible and find out what interests and passions they have in common with each other, and you. Don’t try to capture every reader, but find your core readers and give them content they are interested in reading. People get hung up on keywords for SEO, but what Google loves most is content that keeps visitors’ attention.
- Update your site frequently
The best thing you can do (as long as Google has indexed your site) is to update your site frequently. Far too many people believe that just one blog post should be enough to get visitors coming, but if there’s no content on your site, what are they coming for?
Think outside the box; you don’t have to get hyper-focused on writing blog posts, but instead update your site regularly with a range of content, from updates on your progress with a new book, events, share videos you upload to YouTube or videos you think are fun or useful, you can even build a quiz!
- Link to other sites
Link to other websites you mention in your blog posts, as outbound links are useful for SEO. If you are concerned your visitors will leave, you can often change the hyperlink to open a new tab instead of leading directly to it.
- Link to other pages on your own site
This also shows Google you have more useful content on your site and will up your visitor read times. Internal links show Google your site is a resource, not just a landing page.
- Gain backlinks
Backlinks are valuable – a backlink is when another person’s site links back to yours. These are much harder to get (because you can’t do them yourself) but don’t think all hope is lost just yet if you don’t have thousands of friends willing to link to you. Instead, consider messaging or emailing anyone you link to, tell them that you like or enjoy [their book/post/YouTube channel] and linked to them in your most recent post, and if they like it they can share it.
You can also pay for backlinks, but sometimes this does more harm than good.
- Share your content on social media
Your author website shouldn’t be an island. While it may be your base online, you need to link back to it as much as you link out. When you make a change don’t be afraid to mention it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and ask your readership to check it out. While we never want to spam them, they won’t know it exists if you don’t tell them. Similarly, if you’re busy building that all-important newsletter list, mention your recent posts in your next newsletter.
- Monitor and test
Analytics tools are very easy to set up and are the best way to know what efforts are making a difference, as well as where your traffic is coming from. If you use a website platform like Wix or Squarespace, the analytics tools will be built in for you, but for any other site, Google Analytics is easy to install and use. Over time, you’ll be able to analyze this data and do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.