SEO for Writers – Why Search Engine Optimization matters for Writers and Authors


This article was written by guest contributor John Oszajca, an artist and online marketing expert.

It’s no secret that people are buying more books and eBooks online. But what is still secret to many is HOW they are finding them.

While social media sharing is certainly  more prevalent, the reality is that the majority of people still find most of their content via Google or one of the other major search engines.

This means that if you don’t have some basic understanding of how search engines work you’re missing out on a HUGE potential audience, and more importantly, book and eBook sales.

But not all keywords are created equally

I can’t tell you how many times I meet an author who tells me that he/she has a great search engine ranking on his/her website. I’ll then ask what keywords he/she ranks for. It seems that nine out of ten times the answer is his or her own name or pen name.

I hate to break it to you, folks, but for the most part this is irrelevant. While it’s certainly important to rank well for your own name, in doing so, you are essentially just preaching to the choir. Your existing readers know how to find you!

What you ACTUALLY want to do is rank for a completely different keyword (better yet, many of them) which matches the search queries of your potential fans.

For example, if you were a supernatural romance writer you’d do far better to rank for keywords like “vampire” and “undead” then you would to simply rank for your own name.

To that end, I’ve put together a simple break down of how search engine optimization (SEO) works. When you get into some of the advanced aspects of SEO it can become an art-form in it’s own right. However the fundamentals are fairly straightforward. Hopefully you’ll be able to apply some of this to your website and start exposing your work to a whole new audience.

Search Engine Optimization 101 – 6 Basic Steps To Optimizing Your Website

  1. The search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo) see a link from one site to another as a “vote.” In the simplest terms, the site with the most “votes” wins.
  2. The search engines look at the quality of the site that is linking to your site and gives additional value to higher quality (better content, more traffic) sites or “votes.”
  3. The search engines look at the language that is used in the link itself (this is called anchor text), and assign relevance to your site based on what that language is. For example, search the word “click here” in Google. Adobe comes up as #1 purely because so many sites say “click here to download adobe,” regardless of the fact that the term is not present on the home page.
  4. Then the search engines look at the pattern in which links are built to your site. If it looks unnatural, the links may be disqualified or even penalized. The SERPs (search engine results pages) don’t like you trying to game their algorithm, so it’s important to be cautious and mimic natural link building patterns.
  5. The search engines are looking at other factors as well, such as domain age, time spent on your site, etc. In short, if you’ve been delivering consistent quality content, it helps a lot.
  6. They are also looking at page factors such as keyword placement, relevant content, and keyword quality and density.

To build backlinks you can simply create content on any number free sites (blogger, Squidoo, via blog comments, etc.), that allow you to include a link back to your own website.

In an ideal world people will begin to naturally link to your site due to the strength of your content, though typically a little intervention is necessary to rank for a competitive term. And while Google frowns upon it, there are also many paid services that can help build backlinks for you.

By applying these simple rules, you can start to see your ranking improve for your target keywords. Land a #1 placement in Google for the right term and you might get thousands of new visitors landing on your home page every single day.

Online marketing expert, John Oszajca is an in-demand consultant and speaker at seminars world wide. John speaks about on and off-line marketing strategies for artists, social media, and how artists can best use the internet as a promotional tool.

Keywords Guide

Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."


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