7 SEO Tips for Author Websites

by Wayne Timbrell, SEO consultant

What Is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of taking actions to help increase the visibility of a website in Search Engine results for relevant keywords. And keywords are the words, phrases or questions that people type into search engines.

It’s worth keeping in mind that any marketing or promotion you do, both offline or online, will likely lead to someone Googling your author name or your book titles, or some specific information about you or your books. And the ideal outcome for you is that anyone looking for information will be able to find your website more easily.

Google want to present the most relevant results, and there are a few things you can do to help your website rank higher.

Why is SEO Important for Authors?

If your website appears higher up the rankings, then there is a higher likelihood of someone seeing your website, and clicking-through to visit your website.

And this is good, because a visitor to your website can be presented with the information you want them to see (such as news of an upcoming new book or an author event) and you can encourage visitors to sign up to an email newsletter or follow you on social media, enabling you to begin a direct-to-reader relationship. This gives you much more control.

Book retailer websites may appear higher than your website in search results, but a visitor to your site may be a more valuable customer to you in the longer-term.

Great, How do I Start Optimising my Author Site?

If you are writing articles and blog post for your author website, then you’re already ‘doing SEO’. There just may be a few things you can do to make your efforts go a little further.

1. Use an appropriate navigation structure

This will make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. And it makes the task of writing content easier for you. As a minimum, I recommend:

About - A brief bio about you, including some insight about why you write, or where character inspiration comes from. All depending on how personal you are comfortable being!

Books - I would recommend one page per book. Make that page the best page about your book on the internet. Include a long description, all meta data, a nice big cover image and reviews from trusted sources. Include any unique content that makes this page worth visiting, such as: an author’s perspective (how you were feeling during writing, how long it took, any difficult bits etc) or any bonus chapters (like Helena Halme's page here).

Coming soon - Generate awareness and interest in your next book, and ask visitors to sign up to your email newsletter or follow on social to receive further news.

Contact - How you want readers, publishers or journalists to get in touch with you.

Blog - Within your blog, I recommend around 4-8 categories which you should be able to fit all your posts into. This is where most of your ongoing writing will be. If you write about your books, then link back to the main book page on your website where appropriate - don’t do this in every post though, as this can begin to look a bit fake and can be counter-productive.

Sam has previously written about website layout and navigation.

2. What do I write about?

Before you start, it may help to define your categories within your blog. You then have a framework for your posts to sit under. For example, you could include Writing progress, Books I’m reading and listening to, News about your genre. For example, if you are writing ‘dystopian sci-fi fiction’, all these categories offer the opportunity to use words relating to that subject, but with a different slant. Over time, your blog will become full of words on the subject and be viewed as an authority on ‘dystopian sci-fi fiction’.

3. How do I use keywords in articles and posts?

Don’t be concerned about the number of keywords or how many times they have to appear in an article. Above all, write for other humans. If it begins to read unnatural, then it’s more likely that a search engine will deem that you are writing solely to get better rankings. Your website visitors should be your priority. Having said that, do aim to include any important words in your page title/heading (H1), in some of your sub-headings (H2s) and where natural throughout your copy.

You should include images to break up the copy, and ensure you add an alt-tag for each image. Search engines will read alt-tags, so it can be useful to include your keywords here if it’s appropriate to the image.

4. How many words should I write for each post?

It does depend. As a guide, aim for a minimum 300-500 words for each post. But if you have said all you need in fewer words, then that’s perfectly fine. Google have indicated that there isn’t a minimum article length, so write as much as you need to cover the topic or news you are communicating.

5. How often should I write for my blog?

Ideally, aim for one new post per week. Search engines like new content, and it’ll demonstrate to visitors that you are active and therefore more likely to gain a newsletter sign up or repeat visit. If you have a looming deadline, then you could write a brief post about this - it gives the reader insight into the mysterious process of fiction writing, and builds interest in your upcoming book.

6. How can I gain valuable backlinks?

A backlink is simply a link from another website to your website, and gaining backlinks continues to be important. So, do look out for opportunities. Retailer websites will usually not link out, but can still be useful to include your website address as it gains awareness that your author site exists:

  1. Interviews are great. Share advice or things-I-wish-I-knew with bloggers or press, such as Helen Phifer’s interview on Bookish Bits

  2. On retailer websites, as Julian Stockwin’s mention on Amazon

  3. Providing advice for others, as Nick Jones did writing about blog tours.

  4. Consider reaching potential new visitors using other media, such as podcasts and a YouTube channel, ensuring you link back to your author site wherever possible.

7. How do I know whether this is working?

You do need to measure. Check your Google Analytics on a regular basis and you’ll discover what content is being clicked and how long people are staying on the page. If you hit on a topic with a lot of views, then you might want to write a follow up post on a similar subject. Or, you may even discover interest in a topic for a future book subject!

In Summary

Writing content for your website and working on gaining backlinks does not always deliver immediate results. It will take time for your site to rise in search engine rankings, and for traffic to your site to increase. An increase in visitors will lead to an increase in email signups and social follows, which can then be converted to book sales. It’s a ‘little and often’ approach.

If you are stuck for what to write about, then it can be useful to spend a little time writing a content plan. This involves determining the keywords you are going to target, then writing a series of posts and getting backlinks specifically for these words. Content strategy and planning is a topic that will be covering in a later post.