Getting Found Online as an Author
You can’t afford to ignore the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) if you are a professional writer.
The title of your book can affect whether readers find it using search engines. Putting Your Passion into Print was the name for the first edition of the excellent guidebook written by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. It is now sold as The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It…Successfully! Today SEO means the difference between showing up on the first or the seventh page of Google search engine hits.
A single blog post can be a source of major traffic to your site if it is a high-ranking hit of a frequently searched phrase. For example, Elaine Mansfield recently had Ann Marie Ackermann write a guest blog post which featured Nurse Nightingale’s pet owl. Last week a professional risk company picked it up in their news round-up of favorite posts related to Nurses and in one day there were 7,000 views of the essay. An unlikely alliance of one author with a grief memoir published more than six months ago and another with a true crime history coming out next year. Elaine writes about the subject of caregiving and Ann Marie also writes on the subject of ornithology and they find common ground in the idea of Nature as a healing force. Good for Elaine Mansfield’s website traffic and pulling new readers to her work. Good for Ann Marie Ackermann whose site is hot-linked from the blog post. Good if nurses or those who like nurses find the content interesting and click through to buy Elaine’s book or subscribe to Ann-Marie’s blog.
How does that happen? How do you get found online? Keywords. Tags. Categories. An author needs to practice search engine optimization when blogging. SEO lets new readers discover you.
SEO will ensure you are the #1 result when people search for your name. If you have a common name – or if there is someone else online with your name with a web presence – SEO is not optional. It is imperative you find a way to distinguish yourself. Googling someone is now as commonplace as shaking hands. Before an editor reads your writing, likely they have Googled your name.
Search engine ranking is determined by three things – your content, links that go to your site from other websites (in-bound links), and how popular your site already is.
You don’t have much control over who links to you, and you can’t make your site popular over night, but you do have simple ways that can put you on the path to a higher Google ranking.
First. Know your keywords and use them often. If you don’t know what your keywords are, figure them out quick! They’re the words and phrases at the core of your ‘author brand’ and book – and they should be the phrases people would use when looking for your content online.
But don’t use your keywords too often. If you are generating content with only SEO in mind, you’ll sound like a robot mindlessly repeating the same words and phrases. Generate content for readers – but make sure to hit your targeted words as well.
Second. Link to other people – and hope other sites start linking back to you. In-bound links are difficult to generate on your own. But, by sharing other people’s content, you increase the chances of people sharing your content on their own website.
Third. Keep your content recent and relevant. Think – are people looking for this content right now? A blog about Christmas in August won’t garner you much traffic, but writing about beating the heat is perfect.
To make certain search engines find you and your book, set up Google Alerts. Use your name, book title (including subtitle), and a short list of keywords. You receive an email digest every time Google finds something new on the internet.
From the ground up your book marketing strategy depends on you getting found online.
The easier it is to find you and your book online, the less time you need to spend online.
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…