By Ivelisse Rodriguez
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-important part of an author marketing strategy.
Having a strong social media presence is emphasized over having an SEO strategy. Not only are social media platforms easy and familiar to use, they can expose a large audience to your work in a relatively short period of time.
There’s no doubt that having a strong social media platform is valuable. But having an SEO strategy is just as important as having a social strategy.
The higher you rank on Google, the more traffic your website receives. This may drive email sign-ups, make your work much more attractive to a potential publisher, and increase e-book sales if you’re distributing your work through your website.
SEO can help you land more book sales and make you more attractive to a potential literary agent or editor.
And in just a minute, I will show you how.
But first, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization is the practice of taking deliberate steps to improve your organic search rankings.
As opposed to letting direct or referral traffic be the only source of website visitors, SEO aims to purposefully increase traffic by improving your rankings for relevant search words.
Author websites: SEO basics
1. Optimize your title tags with relevant keywords.
Are you a published author? Be sure to put the word “author” in your title. Won awards or accolades? Feel free to mention those, too.
- Amie Kaufman – Young adult author
- Sarah J. Maas | #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
- Tomi Adeyemi | Author – Speaker – Teacher
Why these work:
You’ll notice that all three are different.
Kaufman’s title works because she’s included her genre of specialization.
Maas has brought attention to her credentials, which increases her level of authoritativeness.
Adeyemi has not only identified herself as an author, she has identified herself as a speaker, which may result in public speaking opportunities.
Google has gotten better at discerning user intent. Users searching for “young adult author,” “author,” or “#1 NYT bestselling author” likely won’t run into any individual author’s site. Google realizes that this user is likely looking for a list and not an individual writer.
However, by including these keywords in the title tag, you send an important signal to Google’s algorithms. You’re telling Google that you’re an author or writer published in a certain genre.
2. Write keyword-rich long-form content on your blog.
One of the easiest ways to increase traffic to your site is by blogging regularly.
And nope, there’s no need to write a blog on that family trip you took to Cancun or your best friend’s wedding.
Write keyword-rich content that’s relevant to the industry. Are you a romance novelist? Most of your content should involve the topic of romance novels—both the writing and publishing side.
Possible topics include “10 Top Romance Publishers in North America,” “Best Romance Novels of 2020,” and so on.
What does this do?
It increases your topical authority. By consistently blogging about a niche topic, you’re signaling to Google that you’re an authoritative voice in this industry.
John Fox is one of my favorite writers on the web. He consistently blogs on topics that have to do with writing and publishing.
He ranks for almost 90,000 keywords. If you search for “children’s book publishers,” one of his articles is #1.
3. Join industry-relevant organizations where it’s possible to have a member profile. In this profile, include a link back to your site.
Having links point to your site is probably the most important thing you can do for SEO.
One of the easiest ways to do that is by joining industry organizations with a public directory. Though this can rack up a bill, the results will be worth it.
The more links point to your site, the higher you’ll rank.
John Fox has over 70,000 links pointing to his site and ranks in the top 10 search results for over 6,000 keywords.
4. Optimize the anchor text of the links pointing to your site.
Whenever possible, include your target keyword in the anchor text of the link.
What does this look like?
As an example, let’s take the romance publishers blog post. You join the Romance Writers Association of America, and it turns out you can list up to three links in your profile.
When inputting the link to your blog post, choose a keyword-rich anchor text. This may be “romance publishers,” “top romance publishers,” and so on.
One of my favorite examples is Mary Kole. She’s a non-fiction author who also offers developmental editing services. On her website kidlit.com, she includes an author bio where she links to her editorial site using keyword-rich anchor text.
She’s consistently in the top 10 search results for book editing keywords.
SEO doesn’t have to be complicated for authors and writers. With these four prove2n tips, you’ll be sure to increase traffic to your author website, boost book sales, and give you an advantage when you’re querying or on submission.
Ivelisse Rodriguez is a marketer and the founder of YA Book Editor, where she offers children’s book editing services for young adult and middle grade writers. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.