People reach author websites in several ways, including search engines, referrals from other websites, and going directly to the site. In part two of my series on How to Get Traffic to Your Author Website, we will discuss search engine traffic.
If someone is searching online for information and they don't know the website address of the site they are looking for, they usually enter keywords into a search engine such as Google. They might enter the name of a person or business, or enter keywords or phrases related to the topic that they are searching for.
Paid Search Results
After entering their search term, they will see "paid search results" at the very top of the page and in the right column. To get visibility in the paid search results on Google, nonfiction authors might consider running pay-per-click ads through Google AdWords. Other major search engines also sell ads.
In this article, Laura Pepper Wu shares the results of her experiment with online advertising for books and offers some tips.
Organic Search Results
The other listings that show up on the search results page are called "organic search results". Google's proprietary algorithm determines what sites get listed and in what order they are listed. Most people who are doing online searches don't go past the first page or two of search results, and they seldom go through more than five pages, so your author website is not likely to get found if it doesn't show up on the first few pages of results for a particular search term.
Search Engine Optimization
The process of making your author website attractive to search engines, so that your site will rank highly in search results for certain keywords, is called search engine optimization or SEO. Volumes have been written about the topic of search engine optimization, but here are a few things to keep in mind.
Search engine traffic is most useful for nonfiction authors. People don't usually search for novels through a search engine – they would search on Amazon instead.
There is huge competition on search engines and Google considers many different factors in deciding what results to display. No one knows the exact details of Google's secret algorithm, but here are some of the factors that affect search results:
- How well the search term matches up with the content of your site, or a specific page of your site. The number and placement of keywords on your site counts. Keywords in the domain name, headline, subheads, and images may get a higher weighting than the text.
- Number of other sites that link to yours, and the "authority" of those sites (how related are they to the content of your site, how popular are they, extra credit for .gov or .edu sites).
- How often your site is updated with new or revised.
- The age of domain name (how long ago you purchased your domain or website address).
- The structure of the site. You or your webmaster can do things like creating a site map and submitting the site to Google and other search engines, and adding keywords to your site's meta description.
How to Make Your Author Website More Search Engine Friendly
- Figure out what keywords people would be most likely to use when searching for information about the topic of your book. You can use the Google keyword tool to build keyword lists and then use those keywords in your articles, especially in the headlines. See these articles for tips:
- Get as many quality incoming links to your website as possible. We will discuss this more in part three of this series.
- Update your site often, to keep it fresh. It's a good idea to post to your blog at least once a week (or more) if you can.
To learn more about search engine optimization, download the free SEO Fast Start ebook from Dan Thies.
Other articles in this series: