Posts Tagged ‘Google rankings’
We build all of our author sites on WordPress. And if you’re familiar with WordPress, you know that it’s all about plug-ins. They’re what turn a flat site into a dynamic one. They’re how you integrate SEO and social networking into static text. Here is the list of plug-ins that we’ve found to be most effective for authors. Best of all, these are all free!
If you have other plug-ins you’d like to recommend, share them in the comments box below!
- All-In One SEO Pack: This plug-in automatically submits your website to all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc…). It also allows you to write unique metadata for each site page and each blog post. That information is then submitted to the search engines and can help your placement on results pages.
- G-Lock Double Opt-In Manager: Want to start collecting email addresses? Of course you do. This easy plug-in allows you to have a sign-up box anywhere on your site. You can customize the text to offer promotions, etc… for people who sign up. All the email addresses collected are then stored in a database and you can use them as you wish.
- WP-DB Backup: We’ve all done it. We’ve made a mistake that we wish we could undo. That’s the beauty of this backup plug-in. It backs up all of your work so that you can go back in time and undo any screw-ups that may have arisen.
- Simply Sociable: You want people to be able to share your site and/or blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc… right? That’s what this plug-in does. It automatically adds those sharing options to every page and every post.
- Ultimate Google Analytics: What good is a website if you’re not keeping track of how many people are visiting it, what they’re doing there, etc…? Set up a free Google Analytics account and use this plug-in to implement it on your site. Just enter your account information and you will automatically have access to a wealth of information about your site traffic.
- Akismet: If you’ve ever had a blog before, you know the biggest pain in the neck that can accompany it: SPAM comments. Akismet can block a HUGE percentage of that SPAM before it even comes into your mailbox. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but even 90% can make an enormous difference.
What plug-ins can’t you live without? Share them with us!
I came across a GREAT blog post today by author marketing guru Judy Cullins. Here are some of the highlights, quoted directly from the post…
Most authors sell only 200 self-published books. … In my 25 years of book coaching, so many clients don’t do the homework (actions) necessary to make their books well known to their target audience. … Here are 5 mistakes you don’t need to make…
1. Your name or your book aren’t well known enough because you don’t invest the time for a Social Media Book Marketing Campaign. Yes, your book is on Amazon. That’s not a big deal if you don’t send your audience to buy it there. Put up an author page and remember to add your Amazon book cover and blurb to your LinkedIn profile.
2. You present the wrong message about your book. Remember, it’s the hook, not the book. Your audience only cares about what the book will do for them. They don’t care about your story. They don’t care about the number of pages or the quotes or even what’s in the book. If you are a good marketer, your efforts will pay off.
3. You are not savvy with SEO strategies. Aim for top ranking in Google. It takes some time, but you can make it happen with the power of keywords.
4. You don’t realize the importance of a book website and getting targeted traffic there. Conversion rates of opt-ins and book sales are all important, so you must also produce a short sales message for each book, product, or service you want to market.
5. You give up too fast. You need to keep writing valuable content for your blog until you build a following and community who likes you and your information. Think at least six months.
I must confess. Up until today, I had a profile page on Facebook. It wasn’t the same as my personal account (I’m not that 2005), but it was still an account for the individual with the name “Smart Author Sites,” not the business “Smart Author Sites.” Finally, today, I made the migration. Yes, I’m now a business with a fan page.
Here’s why I did it, and why all authors should create fan pages on Facebook:
- You don’t want to mix business and personal. Your personal Facebook profile is for family and friends. On it, you can share pictures of your kids, stories about trips to the supermarket, etc… Your professional Facebook page should be used for the purpose of marketing yourself and your book(s). Keep your personal life out of it.
- You don’t even have to accept “fans.” When you have a personal profile on Facebook, people request that you “friend” them. If you do, you get bombarded with their personal information on your wall. In short, you don’t really want to friend most of these people. But with a professional page, people don’t “friend” you. They simply become your “fans.” You don’t have to do anything to allow them to do that, and their posts, updates, etc… don’t appear on your page.
- You can add “like” buttons. On your website, you can have links through which people can “like” your professional page on Facebook. When they do, their liking of your page appears on their status update. This allows all of their friends to see that they like you, which only spreads the word further in the Facebook universe.
- Fan pages show up on search engines. As a professional author, you want as many people to find you as possible. With a professional page (which has no privacy settings), Facebook is free to share the information on your page with the search engines. Because personal profiles need to remain private, personal Facebook pages can’t show up on search results. By having a public page that people can find through many channels, you’re increasing your visibility.
- Professional pages have no fan limit. If you’re lucky enough to get 5,000 followers (and don’t we all wish we were), Facebook would actually cut you off at 5,000 friends. But with a business page, you could have an unlimited number of fans. So why limit yourself?
See? You should all do what I did: take the plunge and create a professional Facebook page. If you’ve already done so, please share your tips and ideas here on how to make it work.
By some strange coincidence, I had three different clients (ones whose websites were built and launched in 2010) contact me this week asking if I had any recommendations for how we could improve their search engine placement (i.e. get them to show up near the top of Google search results for the subject matter of their book).
With that in mind, I thought I would write this blog post to discuss what we do (and all web development companies should do) as we build your site, and what you can do to help improve your site’s performance.
What Your Developer Should Do/What We Do
The easiest thing for a developer to do with an author website is to optimize it for the author’s name and book title(s). There’s not a lot of competition for those keywords, so it should be relatively easy to gain first-page placement on Google, Yahoo, etc… when people search for those terms.
When an author is looking for a more advanced SEO effort, we can do research on other keywords related to the book, target five to ten keywords that seem to get a good number of searches, and then optimize each page of the site separately — targeting the appropriate keywords on the appropriate pages. We put in meta data, descriptions, body text, headers, and alt text for images to reflect these efforts.
Then, when the website, launches, we submit the site to all the major search engines. After that, your greatest gift is time! Your site will not start showing up immediately. Instead, it will take a week or two for it to appear at all, and then it should start rising in the coming months.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do (without setting up pay-per-click advertising) that will get you at the top right away. The longer your site has been around, the higher it will rank. So, as hard as it may be, you need to be patient.
What You Can Do
This is really what you want to know, right? What can you, as an author, do to improve your search engine placement? Here’s my advice to clients…
1. Blog, blog, blog. The more information your website has on the topic, the higher it will rank with Google. The search engines aren’t stupid — they can tell whether your site is offering information or just trying to sell a product. The more you offer to visitors, the higher you will rank. And the best way to do that is by blogging — it keeps your site current and updated, it provides lots of information on the subject matter of your book, and it allows you to get your keywords into your website content regularly. You may decide you don’t want to blog. That’s fine. But be aware that such a decision can hinder your climb up the search engines.
2. Buy your domain name for an extended time. You may be surprised to hear this, but the search engines are aware of when your domain name is expiring. And even if you have no plans to let it run out, Google doesn’t know that. If your domain is expiring in the next six months, Google can interpret that as a sign that your website is not going to be around for the long-term. Just like a site is punished for being newly-launched, it can also be punished for appearing that it’s going to go away soon. So it’s simple: renew your domain name now.
3. Reach out to other websites about cross-linking. Getting links to your website set up from other sites not only drives traffic through those links, it also improves your site’s ranking with the search engines. Again, it’s common sense: the more sites that are linking to you, the more reputable your site appears in the eyes of the search engines. So reach out to sites that talk to the same readers or touch on the same subject matters and propose that you link to one another as a reference or resource.
Take these three steps, and your site should start climbing up the ranks shortly!
I had a conversation with a client yesterday. He was wondering why the search engine optimization campaign we launched just last month wasn’t leading to the skyrocket in book sales that he had hoped. There were several points I had to make to try and lift his spirits. And I thought those might be worth sharing here as well….
1. SEO isn’t immediate. When it comes to your placement on Google and such, your best gift is time. The longer your site is around, the more you will start climbing up the ladder. We just implemented a new search engine optimization strategy a few weeks ago, so it’s important to give it time to work.
2. Always look at the stats. Before rushing to judgment on whether a campaign is working, look at your site traffic numbers (and if you don’t have Google Analytics, sign up for it STAT!). Have your traffic numbers started increasing since you implemented your new SEO strategy? Which keywords are people searching for before they end up on your site? How long are they staying on your site? Are they clicking around? These numbers can help you determine the success or failure of your campaign.
3. Traffic doesn’t equal sales. Even if your SEO campaign has been a resounding success and has quadrupled the site traffic that you’re getting, that doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to sell more books. There are a wide range of reasons why people coming to your site may not be buying your book. Maybe the page people are winding up on isn’t promoting the book prominently enough. Maybe the book is overpriced. Maybe the keywords you optimized for aren’t attracting people who would buy the book. The possibilities are endless.
In these situations, the best thing you can do is test, test, test. If the traffic isn’t going up after several months, try a different SEO strategy. If it is going up, and you’re still not selling books, you can try optimizing for different keywords. You can try offering a sale price on the book to see if it increases conversions. You can create a “landing” page on your site and optimize that — so that people who arrive there will immediately be hit with the book cover, a tantalizing description, and a link to buy it.
SEO isn’t quick or easy. Nor is making your book a bestseller. But do your homework and test, test, test and your SEO efforts can increase your sales.
Sometimes, I’m at a loss as to what to blog about. This week, not so much. There’s been a theme in my correspondence with clients this week and it’s this: Google continues to baffle all of us!
I had one client this week email me in a panic. His website (which only launched about a month ago) had completely disappeared off of Google’s search results, even though it was there a week ago. And we hadn’t even touched it in a month! What happened?
I had another client contact me because his “Ask the Author” page was showing up as a top result on a Google search for his name, while his homepage was much further down. Both pages used similar metadata, including his name. So what gives?
Unfortunately, the answer is, “I have no idea!” And, chances are, most people who make a living doing nothing but SEO don’t know either. Google is a mystery to pretty much everyone. How they rank pages and why pages get knocked off their search results sometimes can be a million dollar question.
Luckily, I do know enough to try and remedy these situations. Here’s what anybody baffled by Google search results (which is pretty much everyone) needs to know:
- A Google Webmaster account can do wonders. If you ever run into problems with how Google is ranking your site, set up a Google Webmaster account (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) and submit your site for reconsideration. You’ll then get a message like this from Google:
We’ve received a request from a site owner to reconsider how we index the following site: http://www.blahblahblah.com/
We’ll review the site. If we find that it’s no longer in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines, we’ll reconsider our indexing of the site.
- Don’t duplicate content! That’s a big no-no with Google. If you put the same page of text on two different URLs (even if it’s on two different sites), Google can ban you.
- Beware of robots! No, not the kind from The Jetsons. We’re talking about a robots.txt file, which (if you have one) can block the search engines from viewing pages on your site. Those pages will then never appear on search results. And for WordPress sites and/or blogs, the default security setting is to block all pages from the search engines, so make sure to change that setting when you launch.
- Don’t try to trick Google. Make sure your metadata is actually relevant to your site content. So, for instance, don’t put “apple pie” as a meta keyword when the site is selling running shoes. Hidden text and/or links are also Google no-nos. You can’t fool Google!
- Use your metadata wisely. This is one of the most important pieces in Search Engine Optimization. Get your 5-10 most important keywords in your meta title, meta description and meta keywords fields. Make sure they’re relevant to your content. And use different metadata on each page, if possible. All of this can improve your search engine performance.
Google is always changing it’s ranking algorithms, so neither you nor I will ever be able to say we’ve “mastered” Google. But follow the guidelines above and you should be able to avoid most Google horror stories.
Paula Krapf, Chief Operating Officer of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., guest blogged on Marketing Tips for Authors and shared some really helpful ideas on how to get your book reviewed online, and how to make sure it’s the RIGHT sites that are doing the reviewing. Here’s an overview of what she had to say…
1. Start with Google. The first thing you need to do is find the right sites to contact about reviewing your book. To do so, just type in “your genre” + “book reviews” or some similar combination.
2. Check sites’ Google Page Ranks. There’s no point in wasting your time getting reviewed by a blogger who gets very few pageviews. So download Google’s free toolbar which includes Google Page Ranks and make sure that you’re spending your time on sites that have high rankings (i.e. deemed valuable by Google).
3. Do your homework. Before you contact a site, read the fine print. Find out what their policies are about reviewing (i.e. they don’t review self-published books), how you are supposed to contact them, how long they take to review books, etc.. This will also help you in terms of really pitching your book. By seeing what else the blogger is doing, you’ll better be able to make an argument like, “My book is similar to the one you reviewed last week” or “I like that you’re willing to be critical of books.”
4. Weigh reviews and blog tours. Some sites review books. Others prefer to interview authors on their blog. Find out which one each blogger seems to prefer, and make suggestions accordingly.
5. Watch out for charges. There are some bloggers that charge authors for reviewing their books. Avoid those, if you can. Buyers beware!
6. Trust your gut. Maybe there’s a site you like that doesn’t do well on Google Page Ranks. Contact them anyway. And vice versa. You’ll know it if you find a blogger who would be perfect for reviewing your book.
Ready to talk with us about setting up a blog tour or getting your book reviewed? We’ll be happy do to do the work for you! Contact us today for a free consultation!
Search engine optimization (SEO) seems to be a theme this week with my clients. Some wanting to start doing it. Some asking questions about it. Others just completely misunderstanding it.
For instance, I had a client earlier this week who asked me to redirect a second URL that she’d purchased to her site. I did that (and optimized the site with that second URL as a keyword), but she kept telling me it wasn’t working. That’s because she was typing the URL into Google, not her browser. They’re not the same thing!
With that in mind, here are what I find to be the most common misconceptions about SEO among my clients:
1. Results are immediate. You may update your site so that it’s chock-full of keywords, but it generally takes weeks (or even months) for those changes to register on the search engines.
2. SEO is guaranteed. This is where it gets tricky. Because I can never guarantee that our SEO efforts — no matter how good they are — will get you on the first page of results. It all depends on the competition and/or the algorithm that the search engines are using for ranking. It’s really a case of trial and error.
3. SEO is permanent. It’s an endless game of cat and mouse. The search engines find an algorythm that works for them. Some computer genius finds a way around it — and gets their site to the top of search results, even though it’s not the most relevant. The computer geniuses at the search engine company then have to adjust the algorythm. And the rest of us non-computer geniuses have to try and keep up!
4. All you need is metadata. Metadata used to be the main cog in terms of search placement. But then the search engines figured out that any site could put tons of keywords in their metadata — that the public will never see — completely unrelated to the site itself. Now, it’s far more about what people can see than what people can’t see.
5. The more links to your site, the better. Quality links to your site are good. But hundreds of links from unrelated sites are not helpful. That’s called “link stuffing.” Also, one link to your site from the NY Times can do a whole lot more good than hundreds of links from little sites.
6. Every page of your site has to be optimized. This is especially relevant for an author site, where basically every page on the site is similar in genre. If you were publishing an online magazine, then you’d want every individual article to be optimized, because each one was probably on a different topic. But for an author site, only spend the time and money optimizing the pages that you want people to end up on — like the homepage or the “book” page — rather than the “contact” page, for example.
If you had a website built through Smart Author Sites in the last few years, then you should be receiving a Google Analytics report on the 1st of each month with your website traffic numbers. Even if you built your author site elsewhere, you may be checking up on your site traffic report regularly.
But what do the numbers mean? How should an author – a master of words – know how to interpret all those facts and figures?
First, since I’m writing this post in August, I feel the need to start with a caveat. Chances are, if you received a site traffic report recently, you were disappointed. Your numbers probably went down from May to June and again from June to July. But don’t despair! Just as TV watching decreases in the summer (hence, so few new shows), so does internet usage. It’s common knowledge that the nicer the weather, the more people want to spend time outdoors instead of in front of the computer. So it’s totally normal for your site traffic to slow down this time of year. Odds are it will pick up again in September.
Now, onto what your stats really mean….
- Visits, Unique Visitors and Pageviews: People often get confused by these three things. So here’s the scoop: “Unique visitors” refers to the number of individuals (okay, computers), who visited your site. This will undoubtedly be the lowest number of the three. Then there’s “visits,” which is the number of times people visited your site. So if 100 unique visitors visited your site an average of 2 times in a month, they would show up as 200 visits. And “pageviews” refers to the number of pages on your site that were viewed. So if those 100 visitors (who each visited twice) looked at an average of 5 pages each time they visited your site, your number of pageviews would be 1,000. Get it?
- When People Visit: Another important stat to look at is when you got your traffic. Try to figure out if there’s a correlation between the days when your numbers where the highest and any marketing efforts that took place. If you sent out an email blast, that could boost your traffic on a particular day. Same thing if you did a radio show. But by figuring out what triggers a rise in site traffic, you can know which marketing efforts are working.
- Traffic Sources: This is another hugely important statistic. It basically tells you how people found your website. Generally, traffic sources fit into three categories: the people who manually typed in your URL; the people who found your site through Google, Yahoo, etc…; the people who got to your site through a link on another site, often known as a referral. Another nifty thing to do is to delve deeper into the actual keywords that people who ended up on your site through search engines actually searched for.
- Top Content: This is how you can find out exactly what people are looking at on your website. Review the top 5-10 pages listed as “most visited.” Your homepage will undoubtedly be #1. But you may be surprised to see #2, #3, etc… By figuring out what people are most interested in on your website, you can then make smart decisions about which sections of your site to spend the most time keeping current.
All these statistics are fun and interesting. But they’re also important! Because by knowing who’s visiting your site, where they came from, and what they’re looking at, you have the information you need to determine what’s working, what’s not, and where your efforts should be focused going forward.
Ready to talk with us about building or marketing your author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!
Okay, I start this blog entry with a confession. I have been blogging here for almost a year. I check out my site traffic numbers a few times a month. I even have people randomly email me and tell me they like this blog. So I was more than shocked to discover last week that my blog is not being indexed by the major search engines. How could I have gone so long without even realizing it?
So the best piece of advice I have for any author who’s blogging is this: Make sure your blog is showing up on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Not your website; your blog. Because my site has been placing wonderfully for months. But my blog was nowhere to be found.
Start by searching for some of your blog entry titles on those search engines. Then try your name and the word “blog.” If your blog or blog entries are not showing up anywhere on the results page, it’s possible the search engines don’t know you even exist. Which, as I’ve been beating myself up over for the last five days, can cost you a lot of site traffic.
So how do you get your blog listed on the major search engines? Here are some ideas I collected in the hours upon hours I spent working on this …
- Check your privacy settings. After some sage advice from my WordPress guru, I think this was the source of my problem. In WordPress blogs, there’s a feature called “Privacy” in the “Settings” box on the left hand side of your blog admin. Go in there and check what the settings are. Mine actually said that my blog should be available to readers, but not to the search engines. Why that would be, I have no idea. But I recommend everyone check on theirs and make sure their settings aren’t blocking the search engines from viewing their entries.
- Set up links to your blog. Go to other websites or blogs in a similar genre and start posting comments. Include links to your blog (or specific blog entries) there. That will get your domain out there to the search engines.
- Get your blog listed on blog communities, like MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, Blogged and NetworkedBlogs
- Submit your blog through Google’s Webmaster tools section. In the “Add new site” section, enter the full URL of your blog. Google will usually index your blog on its next crawl.
Now, even after you do all this, it can take anywhere up to a month before it’s fully indexed. But hopefully these steps will help get your author blog out there to the general public.
Ready to talk with us about driving traffic to your website or blog? Contact us now for a free consultation!