Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work on websites. I spend my days playing with and installing widgets, writing meta tags and descriptions, cleaning up content, adding links, and overall trying to improve search engine optimization, also known as SEO. It takes time and focus… and sometimes a quick search for clarification and explanation. For the most part I avoid touching HTML code. It’s confusing, messy, and (frankly) gibberish to me. I can navigate my way through many websites and pages, but create one on code alone? Nope. I’d hire a web developer for that.
That’s why I, and my colleagues at Swenson Book Development, love working with WordPress. Everything is simplified. And, like the app phenomenon in mobile phones and tablets, there often is a widget or plugin for connecting across social platforms or optimizing content or… well, anything else you need.
In April, Morgan Stanley predicted that the number of mobile Internet users, 1.6 billion, will exceed desktop internet users by 2015 (via BetaNews). Back in March, AdMob Mobile Metrics discovered that smartphones generate 33% of worldwide web traffic. Furthermore, many analysts now say this growth will accelerate even faster than originally predicted. The implications here are huge, considering how new the technology is. WordPress was fairly quick to recognize and adapt to this (or so I believe, not being a gadget geek myself) and recently launched the WPtouch plugin. You download and install on your website, check a few boxes, alter and customize if need be, and voila! Your website is smart phone friendly. Easy to view, browse, search, and click from a device that fits in your palm or purse.
Now nothing can drive away visitors from your website; your site traffic can only grow from here on out – right?
Well, not really.
Even though WordPress makes websites and blogs simple, it’s also common to miss or confuse key pieces of information that play major roles in driving site traffic. In fact, most of that “under the kitchen sink” stuff – the pipelines of information connecting out to search engines like Google and Yahoo – is rooted in HTML code. No wonder Average Joes and Plain Janes miss those steps.
Until I started using free services such as Grader.com and Google Analytics for websites and blogs, I was a rookie too. Although these services don’t explain or show you how to fix tags and codes within your web pages, they do pinpoint where information is missing or issues arise. Awareness of your (website’s) shortcomings is the first step to improvement. If you know there’s a problem, you can create a solution. With SEO, it’s rarely about flash innovation. SEO is all about problem-solving and thinking outside the proverbial box. You have an issue – little to no web traffic – and you devise a solution, even a series of solutions, to fix it.
The second step? Actually making changes – or admitting you need help in order to do so. Attempting to fix your website or blog can be scary. What if you accidentally delete something and the whole page collapses? What if you change something and decide to go back and keep it the same, but don’t know how? What if you know the big picture, but don’t know which steps support it? This is where hiring a professional, or someone more fluent in computer, can come in handy. If you can afford to hire someone, relieve yourself of the strain and struggle and pay those HTML geniuses. But if you think it’s something simple or don’t have the funds to make necessary changes, you still have options.
Swenson Book Development is here to help, formally (hire us… please?) and informally (ok, ok, we’ll give you free advice).
Check back here next week for the first installment on improving SEO, generating site traffic, and selling books.
Until then, let us know in the comments section what website or blog problems you routinely face. I’ll do my best to incorporate your troubles into our how-to guide. The more specific you are about the issue, the more fully I will be able to devise and explain an effective solution.
Six or seven years ago my advice to aspiring authors of nonfiction books was to build an audience platform by blogging. An example of how critical blogging could be to securing a publishing contract can be found in the case of Ann Marie Ackermann, author of Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee. After an initial assessment of her manuscript, I had recommended she start a historical true-crime blog, and she did. In fact, the editor of the ideal book series at Kent State University Press became a fan ofRead more…