SEO for authors

You’re an author — so that means you’re a writer, right? Technically, yes.

And being a writer means that you should be able to be your own SEO copywriter, right? Technically, no.

The SEO Copywriter is a breed all its own. Just because you can write the great American novel (or medical text, or memoir, or whatever) doesn’t mean you can write content for your website — at least not in a way that will help you build an audience and sell your book. Let me explain…

Writing for the web in a way that not only connects with your readers but also with the search engines is a special skill — one that takes years of experience to master. It takes a careful balance of science (knowing how the search engine algorithms work) and art (knowing how your readers are thinking — and therefore how they’re searching online for your topic).

Here are 5 simple steps to help authors with SEO & web writing

Know Your Reader

You can learn how your audience is thinking and searching online by conducting simple keyword research with a free tool like Google Keyword Planner. By entering in a search query you think your readers might use to find your book, you can uncover a ton of new keyword phrases that are actually being used by your readers to find your book.

Just plug in a keyword you think your readers might type into Google, and voila! Google Keyword Planner will give you actual data on how many times similar keyword phrases have been searched in the past month. It also tells you how competitive those keywords are — the more competitive, the more difficult it’ll be to rank in the SERPs (search engine results pages), so you want to choose keywords that have a good balance between high search volume and low competition.

Repeat this process a few times by switching out the original keyword phrase under “Your product of service” — think of some variations of your own to see what kind of results pop up. Try research your topic or niche + books or + story. Try leading with a word like ‘read’ or ‘learn about’ + your topic. Get creative, there are no wrong ways to search and collect information.

If you need more info about keyword research, I wrote a post over here.

Where & How to Use Keywords

There are several areas on a webpage where you’ll want to use your newfound keyword variations …

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description tag
  3. Headline & sub-headings (H1, H2, etc.)
  4. In and around internal hyperlinks (linking to deeper pages on your site)
  5. Sprinkled throughout the copy (only where it flows naturally)

    TIP: Never, ever compromise the quality of writing just to use a keyword. If it doesn’t sound right, don’t use it.

Optimize Amazon Listing

There’s no question that Amazon is one of the largest and most well-known hot spots for book sales. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of the optimization opportunities on Amazon. Here are some key tips to Amazon optimization:

  1. Create an Author Central account & include your head shot and bio.
  2. Link all your social media accounts from your Amazon Authro Central page.
  3. Make sure your book title and/or description clearly includes relevant keywords that your readers might use to find books like yours. TIP: There’s a nifty little keyword research tool specifically for Amazon called Merchant Words.

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

More and more readers are now using tablets and even smart phones to shop for books online. Did you know that Google indexes mobile pages differently than regular pages? Last year, Google released it’s Mobile Friendliness algorithm, which basically means that if your web pages aren’t mobile friendly, you won’t be ranked in the results pages (that makes you invisible to potential readers).

You can read my other posts about Mobile Friendliness over here.

Attract Quality Links

Every time you link to another website from your website, you should let them know. For example, in this image, Jeff makes reference to the Good News Network, and he’s linked to their website.

This is a prime opportunity to send a quick email to let the editors at the Good News Network know of the mention, saying something like this:

Hey Joe,

I recently wrote a post about the power of positivity, and I linked to The Good News Network as one the best examples of how we can all focus on empowering and educational media. Just wanted to give you the heads up so you can check it out — and if you’re feeling generous, go ahead and Tweet it out or link back to it! 

Cheers,
-Jeff

These are just some of the many ways in which authors can optimize their online presence to drive more sales. But remember, these alone won’t necessarily open the flood gates. As an author, it’s your job to make sure you spread the word about upcoming books, and that means a strong digital marketing strategy that includes not only organic SEO, but also social media engagement, guest blogging, email marketing and more.

Damnit, Jim, I’m an author not a web writer!

Remember, just because you’re an author doesn’t mean you’re expected to know how to write for the web. If you do, that’s great! If not, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone.

If you’re an author who needs some SEO Copywriting help, give me a buzz anytime. I’m here to help!