Many author-entrepreneurs shy away from search engine optimization because it seems too technical and complicated. In fact, about half of small business owners don’t have an SEO strategy, which is a missed opportunity. Employing SEO techniques like keyword research and backlinking can help increase your book’s visibility on Google and boost your sales. Although search engine optimization can seem intimidating, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are ten simple tips to help you get started.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO
There are two main types of SEO strategies authors should be familiar with: on-page and off-page SEO. The goal of on-page SEO is to make your web copy more appealing to Google and other search engines by using keywords and proper formatting.
Off-page SEO involves boosting your online reputation by getting other websites in your industry to link to your author page. Securing backlinks signals to search engines that your website is a trusted source, which can help improve its search ranking.
9 SEO Tips for Authors
Now that you know the difference between on-page and off-page SEO, here are strategies that you can use to make your author website and book more findable.
Find Relevant Keywords
One of the most important elements of on-page SEO is using the right keywords. Keywords are simply words or phrases related to your book that your ideal reader may enter into search engines.
For example, if you write parenting books, your target audience might research topics like “raising independent children” and “teaching children manners.” Including relevant search terms in your website copy will help potential readers discover your book while they’re browsing on Google or Bing.
You can use free tools like Ubersuggest to create a list of keywords based on your book’s topic. Ubersuggest also provides valuable information about the search volume and competitiveness level of each keyword. Search volume tells you how many people are entering that keyword into search engines each month. Typically keywords with high search volumes will also have a high competitiveness score, which means many other websites are trying to rank for that keyword.
If you’re an SEO beginner, try to pick search terms that have a lower search volume and less competition at first. This will give you a better chance of ranking well for your chosen search terms while you’re learning the ropes of SEO.
Start a Blog
Search engines prefer websites that are updated regularly with new content, so starting a blog on your author site is a great way to improve its SEO. Writing blogs also gives you an opportunity to build backlinks when readers share your articles and rank for additional keywords you couldn’t fit into your web copy.
Each blog post you publish should include a primary keyword that directly pertains to your content. You should also consider targeting a few secondary keywords to help your article gain more exposure. Using secondary keywords can help your article pop up in search results for several different search queries, enabling more readers to find your writing.
Secondary keywords are often variations or synonyms of the primary keyword. For example, if your primary keyword is “blanket,” you may use synonyms like “comforter” or “cozy wool blanket” as secondary search terms. Secondary keywords can also introduce subtopics connected to your main keyword that readers may be interested in. Users searching for information about blankets may want to know how to make a blanket or where to buy blankets, so those phrases could make good secondary keywords.
If you’re having trouble coming up with secondary keyword ideas on your own, try entering your primary keyword into Google or Bing. Search engines often display related searches at the bottom of the first page, which can give you some inspiration. For best results, try to repeat your primary keyword and each of your secondary keywords a few times throughout your blog post. However, be careful not to go overboard, or else you may be penalized by Google for keyword stuffing.
Some people try to manipulate search engines by spamming the same keyword over and over again throughout their blog posts. Keyword stuffing will not only make your writing sound unnatural, but also hurt your content’s ranking. To avoid overdoing it, only repeat each keyword you’re targeting about once every 200 words.
Don’t forget to add headings and subheadings to make your post more readable for both humans and search engines. These headings should contain some of your target keywords to help Google figure out what your content is about. If possible, try to include relevant search terms in your post’s title, URL, and meta description as well.
Create Helpful, Rich Content
Although it’s important to upload blogs regularly, you shouldn’t skimp on quality in order to publish more content. If your articles contain too much fluff and don’t give readers the information they need, they won’t appear toward the top of search results. So make sure you’re creating well-researched content that provides valuable insights.
Adding images, graphs, and videos to your posts can also help enhance your content and improve its SEO. Search engines prefer rich content that includes different media formats, and so do readers. Interactive media is twice as engaging as static written content, so adding multimedia elements to your website can give you an edge over the competition. Don’t forget to include a descriptive file name for each image and video to help search engines interpret your multimedia content.
Use an SEO Plug-In
When you’re an SEO beginner, it can be difficult to figure out if you’re repeating your keywords frequently enough or optimizing your meta description properly. Tools like Yoast and Rank Math can take the guesswork out of search engine optimization. They assess your blog post and give it a score based on its current SEO-friendliness. Then they make suggestions on how to improve your content to hopefully help it rank higher.
These SEO plug-ins can even be installed directly on your WordPress website so you can use them while you’re editing posts in your admin dashboard. Although some SEO tools charge a monthly or annual fee, they’re usually worth the cost because they can help your content appear higher in search results and increase the visibility of your book.
As mentioned above, securing backlinks can help your content rank higher by showing search engines that your website is reputable and popular. If you write high-quality content that readers feel inclined to share, you’ll naturally accumulate backlinks over time.
However, you can speed up the process by writing guest blogs for websites in your industry in exchange for a backlink to your author site. Another link-building strategy is to provide a free copy of your book to influencers who review new titles. If they enjoy your book, they may feature it on their blog or social media along with a link to your website.
Improve Your Website’s Page Speed
An important ranking factor that’s often overlooked is page speed. Both consumers and search engines prefer websites that load quickly. Studies have shown that 40% of users will only wait three seconds for a website to load before giving up and exiting the page. If you sell your book on your website, slow loading speeds could also cost you sales. About 70% of consumers say that page speed influences their online purchasing decisions, so customers may abandon their cart if your website is too slow.
Google also penalizes slow sites and tends to rank them lower in search results. Pages that make it to the front page of Google have an average loading speed of just 1.65 seconds. To see how your website compares, type your URL into a website speed analyzer such as GTmetrix. This free tool will give you a website speed report and flag any files or images that may be causing lag so you can delete them.
If your website is still too slow after deleting files, you may need to change your web design template or upgrade to a better hosting provider. Adding too many widgets to your site can also cause drag, so try to limit the number of plug-ins you install.
Optimize Your Book’s Product Listing
In addition to selling books on their website, some authors choose to list their book on marketplaces like Amazon. Optimizing your book for Amazon requires a different approach than getting your book discovered on Google. Users often turn to Google when they have a question and need information on a specific topic. As a result, writing educational blogs on your author website is a great way to attract readers to your work.
But on Amazon, users are usually looking for a book to read, so you’ll have to adjust your keyword strategy. Amazon customers often search for the genre they’re interested in to find new book titles, such as “coming-of-age memoir” or “self-help weight loss book.” That’s why it’s important to include genre-specific keywords in your book’s product listing.
Amazon also suggests that you use keywords that describe your book’s tone, themes, setting, and characters if applicable. If you’re having trouble coming up with keyword ideas, you can use this free Amazon keyword tool to generate a list of suggested search terms for your book.
When you upload your book to Amazon, you’ll be able to add up to 250 characters worth of keywords that describe your book to the backend metadata. Although this backend metadata isn’t visible to customers, the hidden keywords will still make your book more discoverable. You can also incorporate relevant search terms into the title and description of your book’s product listing as long as they sound natural.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t repeat any of your backend keywords in the product listing. On Amazon, keyword density isn’t a ranking factor, so you only need to use each search term once.
Monitor Your Rank On Search Engines
After you deploy your SEO strategy, don’t forget to search for the keywords you’ve targeted on Google to see where your website appears in search results. Keep in mind that search engines can take between three and six months to rank your web pages.
If your website doesn’t appear on the first page of Google, don’t be discouraged. Instead, click on the websites that are ranking higher and take note of their strategy so you can tweak your approach. Perhaps the content featured on the first page is longer and more in-depth than yours or contains a higher density of keywords. Use these findings to improve your content and hopefully boost its rank.
Becoming an SEO pro requires a lot of trial and error. The best way to hone your skills is to experiment with different keywords and SEO techniques. Eventually you’ll figure out what works for you and dial in your keyword research and content optimization processes.
If you need extra guidance, contact The Book Professor to learn more about our book coaching programs. We’ll guide you through the entire book writing, publishing, and marketing process so you can achieve your dreams of becoming a published author.