Why Authors Need SEO
SEO is all about getting found.
Authors need SEO. We write books in the hope that others will read them. We as authors do everything we can to make sure that the book we present to our readers are well written, well researched, with an excellent blurb, and a great cover. We may even go so far as to build a website, social media channels, newsletters and other marketing materials. Why? To assist us in getting our books to the reader.
The Author Website
An authors website is your space online to facilitate your brand and your business. It is a space to sell books, build a community, a following and a place to inform your community. As well as advertise upcoming books, events, special features and more. A place to blog, live stream, podcast, host video interviews, show off reviews and more. An author website done right can be your best employee, one that works for you 24/7/365, done wrong it can be your worst employee, one that sabotages you at every turn.
So where does SEO come into an authors life? And why do authors need SEO?
SEO is something every author should be implementing. You have written your books, you’ve built the website and no one is visiting it, not buying from it and you can’t understand why. You could compare getting your author website online to having written the first draft of a book. When you complete the first draft of your book and the last word has been penned (or typed) you know it is not ready for the world, we know, as authors, that it still needs a lot of work. Typically as authors, we do not release half-arsed, half-finished books to the world, we make sure it’s had a rough edit. But as we mature as authors, we get serious about editing. We make sure our books are given the full edit overhaul including developmental edits, extensive rewriting, line edits and a final three proofreads before formatting it and signing off that it is now ready for the reader.
SEO is the equivalent of getting an editor for your website. For our books, we take time to refine the story, characters, spelling, grammar, cut dead wood, fix plot holes, weak characters, POV conflicts, inconsistencies, repetition etc. i.e All the wee things that make it a finished article ready for the world.
In SEO terms that’s defining keywords, page speed, headers, tags, content length and quality, image compression, code weight, SERP descriptions, page size, backlinks, social shares, keyword tracking and more. Hence why everyone with a website should try to understand SEO. For example, after I have finished writing this article I will make sure that the keywords I am targeting are in the URL, header H1 tag, in the first paragraph of the content and the Description (the small snippet that turns up in the search results). Why? Because this tells Google clearly that this is what this article is about. i.e I am writing for both humans and machines. BTW, can you guess what it is? (Yes you guessed right, Authors need SEO). I will then make sure that all images are compressed and tagged. After completing the article I will make sure that the page is fast and conforms to Googles guidelines. In short, I am making sure that both humans and machines can decipher and rate the quality of the article presented. If your SEO is bad Google is not going to recommend it to its customers, i.e those searching! if your SEO is good and your article is good, there is a possibility that you will start climbing up the rankings and as you climb more and more traffic will pass through your website.
Help Google know you exist.
So as an author, with a website and books to promote and sell, it is your obligation to make sure that Google knows that you and your books exist. If Google does it can return your website for search terms related to and associated with your works. If you do not then what is the point of having an author website?
Amazon SEO but not Google?
The most interesting thing I have encountered on my author journey is a strange world where authors will dedicate time to building newsletters, social media and learning the SEO secrets of Amazons indexing and ranking system, but will neglect, in every respect, the SEO around their own author website. Tools like Dave Chesson’s Publisher Rocket, HTML generator and Keyword tutorials are looked upon by experienced authors in the know as crucial and critical components to launching a new book on Amazon. Yet similar tools for understanding keywords, rankings, volumes, for ranking and indexing their own website rarely speak about on author forums or author Facebook groups. But they should be. Read my Publisher Rocket review here.
But Why do I need SEO?
If you have a website set up with Google Analytics and Google’s search console you can look at your websites analytics and determine exactly where your traffic comes from, you can drill down and see the location, age, from which platform they came i.e social media, from Google search, direct or via a referral. You can identify problems with landing pages, broken pages, slow pages and more. It may surprise you to see that most of a website’s traffic (typically and generally speaking) comes from Google. It comes from people searching. So by making your website conform more to the ideas that Google is looking for is the key to growing traffic and therefore potential sales. Around 20% of the traffic to my website is via social media! 30% is referrals (newsletter) and almost 45% is from search. The more I build the more they will come.
Building good SEO into your author website will build your online author authority, it will establish you online as an author, bring in additional readers i.e new potential readers. It will increase the search volume and search traffic directed to your website from Google. An SEO website works well with your marketing efforts to increase the profits generated from each of your books.
You have my interest, what now?
Good question, good to hear I am making sense. Well, I wrote my book SEO A Layman’s guide for the beginner, for someone who has a website and has realised that just like a story it needs to be edited, it needs the final polish before it will start attracting the audience it was destined to interact with.
SEO is just one piece of the Author success puzzle
Ok, just to clarify, good SEO will bring in more traffic versus bad SEO. That is guaranteed, SEO makes your website competitive. But it is just one of the things an author must focus on. As you are aware and as I highlighted earlier, a good book, social media, a newsletter and more, are all required to be optimised and performing at their best to bring about maximum results.
Here is an example using some of the industry leaders in the indie/self-publishing space, each of these authors are successful and have great book sales, course sales etc. Each has a website, using a free tool, and a paid tool both of which I highlight in my book we can take a glimpse behind the curtain and see what can be improved to make their websites better in the eyes of Google.
A great example of a website that ticks the basics, one H1 and multiple other H tags. These H Tags tell Google what the page is about. He has a description i.e the bit that is returned in the search results. By defining this we tell Google what to display.
The headers are good, H1 – Want to sell more books? Yes Dave I do. The others tell us about what the site offers.
We can see with the Serpstat screen that he generates lots of traffic, has lots of keywords and is ranked (Alexa ranking) 27,182 websites in the world! Daves site at first glance is looking good.
We can see in contrast how SPFs site is far less optimised for Google. Missing description, this means Google pulls anything it wants in for the search result instead of you defining it. The search result is the only thing that differentiates you from the other competitors on the Google search results page. It is always best practice to optimise and write this yourself.
Header tags aren’t too great either. NO H1 tag, to define what the page is about and nothing to really tell Google what the website is about.
Good traffic but pails in comparison to Kindleprenuer. Some good keywords and overall the website is ranked the 289,078 website in the world. If this website was better optimised it would be far better at bringing in traffic from Google.
TCP has a good description if a bit long, anything over 160 words is usually truncated by Google in the results.
A lot of good headers that give Google a good understanding of what the page is about.
Lots of traffic, lots of Keywords, lots of content, and it is the 169,109 most popular website in the world.
From this shallow comparison of three indie author websites we can see that just like the marketing efforts, editing efforts, newsletter efforts etc there are always ways to improve and streamline our operation. The more we work on each aspect as an indie author, the more chance we have of succeeding. SEO success is important for author success as a whole.
Sell more books with good SEO
My book covers everything you will need to get your website into good shape, everything you need to get it up and running and start generating traffic. Now just like editing a book, SEO can be a tedious beast but once you understand the various things that need to be done you start incorporating them into your workflow from the beginning. And with time you begin to refine your process. There is never a wrong time to start optimising your author website with SEO principles and ideas.
Concepts covered in my SEO book and why every author should read it.
Search Engine Optimisation.
Search Rankings and how to climb them.
How to write quality content for both humans and machines.
How to write blogs.
How to do keyword research
How to test your website
How to provide a great user experience for your customers.
How to tick all the boxes, including site speed, page size, tags, headers, schema, reviews, local search and more.
or click the book image below to see all other options including Apple, Google etc.