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When it comes to your author blog, trust the process

The most recent topic at the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup was “Blogging Success Tips for Authors.” We’ve covered blogging at length before here at the Marcie Brock blog. Here’s link to a number of our posts about author blogging.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

While we’ve offered lots of guidance around creating and maintaining a successful blog (defined as one that gets traction, shows up in the search engines, and positions you as the expert you are), here’s a recap of some of the most important success tips:

  1. Determine your goals for blogging.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Identify the topics/themes that are important to your target audience.
  4. Upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row.
  5. Decide how often you will post.
  6. Always include a call to action!
  7. Use an image with every post.
  8. Make time to blog.
  9. Calendar your blogging time – and stick to it.
  10. Write ahead and post later.
  11. Let your readers know your posting schedule.
  12. Read and comment intelligently on other related blogs.
  13. Avoid sending mixed messages, or failing to stay on topic.
  14. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog.
  15. Get your SEO keywords right.
  16. Be patient – results take time.

Mind you, this is just the recap of a prior post that expands on all 16 points.

During our Meetup, when we got to #4 – upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row – the response was pretty typical. Gasps, followed by the one-word question: “Really?” Yes, really.

Here’s the thing. Blogs are much more dynamic than traditional websites, because the well-maintained ones are continually adding new content, and search engine spiders love new content. When you’re first launching your blog, you’ve got to prove to the search engines that you mean business by showing up day after day and week after week with brand new content. Once they see new content continually show up on your blog, they will begin to add your data to search engine results pages (SERP), provided that you’ve done a good job tagging each post with proper keywords.

Translation: People will type in your keywords and start finding your blog posts.

I’ve offered this advice to a number of clients. One was a few years ago, and he was really skeptical at the get-go. Then, six or seven weeks went by, and I received a call from him. “Hey, guess what! My blog is picking up traction. People are starting to read it and comment on my posts, and my subscribers are increasing. You were right, after all.”

And so it goes. Here’s an excerpt from a post from the most recent client I advised about the importance of blogging.

So I was set this challenge by my publicist “write 50 blogs in 50 days” including Saturdays and Sundays. This she promised me will get much needed traffic to my blog. She also said that the blogs should be 300 – 500 words in length and when I can, make the content about something topical. (You just got a piece of free advice).

This sounds like work to me. Blogging for me is when I feel inspired to say something or share an opinion. I do not own a television, I stay away from news websites and I do not listen to talk radio. It’s not that I don’t want to know what is going on but I get so disillusioned when I read or hear news that the Ku Klux Clan is recruiting in North Carolina, or about murders by people who are there to “protect and serve”, or about bombs in Israel and Palestine, or that girls are stolen and not yet returned, or about kids who are locked in cars in sweltering US summer heat, or that the media is giving us hope by telling us what movie stars are doing.

To maintain my sanity and my peace of mind I usually stay away from all media and live in my own little bubble of words.

Maxine Attong has written a new book, Lead Your Team to Win, about creating a Safe Space in the workplace. A #SafeSpaceAttong_cover is critical to a well-functioning team because it allows every team member to take risks, learn, grow, and ultimately perform at optimal levels. I’ll have more details soon about her October 3 virtual launch. In the meantime, visit her blog. Her posts are thoughtful and conversational, just like she is.

And yet, even though the idea of blogging daily for 50 straight days initially seemed daunting to Maxine, she’s starting to see results, just like my other client did. Just like I did. Just like you will, if you follow through, keep blogging, and trust the process.

Sure, it’s easy to get discouraged when it feels like you’re blogging into the wind. Hanging your heartfelt words or well-researched posts out for the world to see, yet no one seems to see them. Remember, you are trying to make a dent in the INTERNET. You are trying to grab your little share of attention, notoriety, and fanfare on a very crowded stage. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen at all if you give up on it, do it haphazardly, or do it once every six months.

Follow the steps above and see where it leads you. In 40 or 50 days, come back and tell us how it’s going. Share the link for your author blog with me, and I’ll add it the list of author blogs on my sidebar. I’ve repeatedly made this offer, and have only had 2 takers. You can be #3!

Here’s to all my fellow author bloggers!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Once your author site is ranked, you must use SEO to maintain that ranking

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We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about how to build a successful author website. From design to content to eCommerce, we’ve given you a lot to think about. We talked about how essential SEO is to improving your site’s visibility and ranking in the search engines so that it is among the top results for the designated keywords.

Our first conversations about SEO were more from a perspective of getting ranked in the first place. One day, your author website is born, but how do people find out about it? They can’t, unless you put some effort, energy, and/or money into good SEO. Today I want to emphasize the importance of ongoing SEO to maintaining your ranking.

Scott White is a personal trainer in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the person who taught me most of what I know about search engine optimization. Why do I trust Scott more than any other source on the topic? Because Scott built his website from scratch in the early 2000s, spent a few years getting it ranked on the FIRST page of the major search engines for one of the most competitive search terms in the world (personal trainer – try it in Google, and you’ll see it returns 54 MILLION+ results), and has kept it among the top two pages of search results ever since.

Why is this so incredible and important? Research suggests that only 8 percent of all Web users will delve deeper than the first or second page when doing a search. MOST people won’t bother to keep looking for you if you’re not at the top. To maintain a top ranking for years on end takes skill, effort, and energy … or money.

Came across this on Facebook on 2/24/12.
Would gladly credit it if I knew who created it.

The good news is that the search term for which you want to rank your site is likely to be a lot less competitive than “personal trainer.” You can always improve your rankings by adding geocentric keywords to your search terms. For example, “dental school success tips Northeast” as opposed to merely “dental school success tips.”

Now, I am not suggesting that you hire a company to do your SEO for you, although it is something you might want to consider, if you have the budget for it and you don’t have the time and/or skills to do it yourself. A good SEO company should offer services such as:

  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Monitoring your SEO rankings and tracking your traffic
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, navigation, hosting, redirects, error pages
  • Keyword research
  • Competitive analysis between your site and others in your industry
  • Content development and regular addition of fresh content
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies

Right up there with unreliable Web design companies, SEO service providers can be sketchy, so you’ll want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. A few questions to ask anyone (or company) you are considering hiring to help maintain SEO on your author website include:

  • Can I see some examples of your previous work?
  • What kinds of success stories can you share with me?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results can I expect to see, and in what timeframe?
  • How do you measure SEO success?
  • What’s your experience in my industry?
  • What’s your experience in my country/city?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you?
  • How will you share with me the changes you make to my site and your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

If you’re going to spend your time, effort, energy, and money to get your site ranked, don’t let it be for nothing. Do whatever you can to hold on to that ranking, because the Web is a most competitive place: someone else is just waiting to take your spot should you become complacent.

Happy ranking!

MARCIE

RESOURCES: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291 and http://www.isitebuild.com/seo-maintenance-services.htm

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Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

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Without an investment in SEO, your author website will be largely invisible.


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If you build it, they will come. Right? The people. Readers. Visitors. Purchasers. Customers. Repeat visitors. You write a good book, build a good website, and they will appear, as if by magic … won’t they? NO – not without good SEO.

Simply put, search engine optimization (SEO) is the organic (i.e., not purchased) process of improving a website or web page’s visibility and ranking in the search engines so that it is among the top results for the designated keywords. Your author website cannot succeed without it.

SEO is a giant subject/industry, and there are tons of people out there much better versed in it than we are. However, there are some basic concepts to keep in mind when looking to improve your site’s search engine optimization – and/or hire an SEO company to help you. One thing to remember is that SEO is a dynamic entity, meaning it changes all the time. The search engines recalibrate frequently, meaning that what you did yesterday to get to the top of the search rankings may be not be what you need to do to stay there.

There are a few things that remain consistent:

DOMAIN NAME

Make sure your domain name (and the title of your book, for that matter) incorporates your keywords.

KEYWORDS

  • Be selective and deliberate in your choice of keywords.
  • Learn to think like your potential readers. What kinds of words will the choose when looking for a book like yours?
  • Increase your search effectiveness by adding regional identifiers.

EXAMPLE: Use “Scottsdale first-time homebuyers” vs. just “real estate”

  • Remember the misspellings. If your keywords contain one that is often misspelled, include the misspelling to increase your chances of capturing that traffic.

META TAGS

Meta tags are the bits of information that lie behind the stuff your visitors see: descriptions of pictures, titles for your web pages; the name of the program used to create the page, descriptions of the page. Many search engines use the information stored in meta tags when they index web pages, which is why it is essential that your meta tags contain your keywords.

RELEVANT LINKS

While links have become less crucial as the Web has aged and matured, they still are an important aspect of driving traffic to your sites. Look to link with:

  • Similar industry sites
  • Sites that will send you traffic
  • Relevant sites

Make sure you know how to create a text link. If you learn no other coding ever, this piece is one that will serve you as long as you’re on the web.

<a href=“http://www.marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.com”>
book marketing blog for self-publishing authors
</a>

becomes

book marketing blog for self-publishing authors

NOTE: The text you want to become the link lies between the > and <.

BONUS TIP: Make sure you don’t chase people away from your site by having your links open in the same window. ALWAYS have your links open in a new tab or a new window. Do this by adding one little piece of code to your text link:

<a “target=blank” href=“http://www.marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.com”>
book marketing blog for self-publishing authors</a>

SEO-FRIENDLY CONTENT

Make sure your content naturally lends itself to good rankings. If you answer “no” to any of the following, you know what you have to do.

  • Is the very first thing appearing on your site searchable content that contains your keywords?
  • Does your content match your meta tags?
  • Do the links pertain to the content on your web pages?
  • Does your content contain your keywords (no more than 4 or 5)?
  • Does your content make sense?
  • Do you have high-quality information?
  • Will other website owners want to link to you because your site has good information?
  • Is your content easy to follow?

ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

On-page optimization means the things on the web page itself that you can control or do to increase your site’s search engine rankings. These include:

  • Page title
  • Banner text
  • Site navigation
  • Image descriptions
  • Keywords
  • Links

OFF-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

Off-page optimization means all other the things you can do to increase traffic to your site, such as:

  • Blogging
  • Article marketing
  • Social media
  • Submitting to directories
  • Mailers (i.e., the old-fashioned way!)
  • Speaking/book signings

For more detailed info on SEO, read every post on SEOBook.com. As we said, it’s a big topic, but investing the time to do it right will make the difference between people being able to find your site, and the sound of crickets chirping as you wait for the visitors to show up.

If you should decide to hire someone to help you with SEO, one big suggestion: DO YOUR RESEARCH! Check things like the SEO on the company’s own site. If they’re not showing at the top of the search engines in a search for “SEO + your city/state/region,” don’t hire them. Check references. Ask what you will get for your money, and make sure you feel comfortable with hiring that company. Reminder: Your gut instincts are usually correct.

If you’re just building your website, this is the time to get the SEO right. If you’ve had your site for awhile, it’s never too late to go back and make changes that could make a big difference.

MARCIE

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Thursday, Oct.6 Does your author site give visitors a reason to COME BACK?

Monday, Oct. 3 – I’m on Facebook and have a blog – why do I still need a website?

Friday, Sept. 30 Is your author website DOA?

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Is your author website DOA?

(Click twice SLOWLY – not a double-click – to enlarge the image.)

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Once upon a time, the Internet was shiny and new and only certain people had websites. Mostly companies, maybe famous folks. For the average author, though, it was a reach. Fast forward to the cusp of 2012, and a website is no longer an optional luxury. It is an absolute necessity for doing business, particularly for a self-publishing author.

OK, so if this is basic stuff for you, feel free to skip ahead. You’ve read it here before: this should go without saying … but, after visiting a number of author sites lately, it occurs to me that some of these things very much need saying AGAIN.

Every successful website contains three discrete elements:

  1. Design
  2. Content
  3. SEO

DESIGN is the way the site looks. The colors. The fonts. The menus and buttons. The choice to utilize Flash, video, or other movable segments. It also incorporates functionality. How well is the visitor able to navigate the site, moving from page to page, or section to section? What is the overall feel, tone, and personality of the site? Is it elegant? Whimsical? Humorous? Thoughtful?

Remember, you are not your reader/Web visitor. When you are thinking about the design aspects of your site, consider your end users! Imagine you are your ideal reader, seeing your site for the first time. Does it invite you in? Make you want to look around and learn more? Or is it cluttered, busy, or schizophrenic?

CONTENT is the stuff that fills up your site: the words, images, videos, links, etc. YOU the website owner are responsible for creating the content for your site. This means that you must either take on a new/different writing role: copywriting. Or you must hire someone to do it for you. There are books, courses, videos, and every kind of tutorial you can imagine about copywriting for the Web, if it’s not your strong suit. Honestly, I think every author should have some skill in the copywriting arena. But there’s also a lot to be said for hiring a pro who can turn out magical copy for you almost effortlessly.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the behind-the-scenes work that allows your site to be found on the search engines. If someone types in your name, does your website come up first, or is it way down on page 2 or 3, after all the other sites that are selling your book(s)? Although a good Amazon ranking is important to many authors, it’s equally important that YOUR site be found on the first page of results, particularly in a search for YOUR name. SEO is the tool that will make that happen. There are many things you can do to improve and enhance your site’s SEO, but if technology confuses, confounds, or frustrates you, it’s probably in your best interest to bring in a consultant to help you.

The interesting thing about building a successful website is that each of these three essential components is often so separate from the others. Many Web designers understand the concept of SEO, but do not specialize in it. As the owner of the site, you really want to act as the quarterback, pulling all the pieces together to make sure they are all working in harmony. This is easier to manage if you are writing the copy and choosing the images. If you’ve hired someone else to handle that portion, it becomes even more essential to make sure the Web design complements the copy and helps the SEO, that the copy contains good key words to boost your search rankings, and that your SEO expert is using appropriate strategies and key words.

We’ll be exploring all of this at greater length in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you may want to take tour of your website, scanning for some of the significant flaws that could be hampering your sales success:

  • No email capture. If you don’t have a way to capture the names of your site visitors, you are missing out on an obvious and essential marketing opportunity.
  • Using a newsletter as giveaway. Newsletters are passé. How many are you subscribed to? And how many do you read? Find something interesting and creative to give away.
  • No author bio. This one is just inexcusable. Sure, people are visiting your site to learn more about your books, but as an author, you’re in a unique position because your product is so personal. YOU wrote the book, so people also want to know about you. Reward them for caring with a nice bio and picture.
  • Hard-to-find contact info. Don’t make the user hunt for your contact info, especially not the media! Make sure to include all your social media links.
  • Too busy; too many sections/frames/boxes. You don’t have to put everything on the front page. Easy-to-use navigation buttons that steer your users where you want them to go will serve you much better than a junky, cluttered home page.
  • No call to action. What do you want your visitors to DO next? They won’t do it if you don’t tell them.
  • No samples of your writing. Like your bio, this is simply a courtesy to your readers. You want them to buy your books, don’t you? Well, how will they know they want to buy your books if they can’t first sample your writing?
  • Nowhere to purchase. I am banging my head against a wall as I write this one. Even if you can’t or don’t want to handle fulfillment personally, you must include links on your site to the places where your readers CAN purchase your book.
  • Irrelevant links and content. Make sure every aspect of your site is geared toward building your relationship with your reader. If you’ve written a travel guide, by all means, include links to travel resources. If, however, your book is about knitting, dump the travel/recipe/theatre/cosmetics  links, unless they are somehow relevant to your knitting book.
  • No event calendar. If you are doing book signings and events, make it easy for your readers to find them.

Surely you’ve found yourself frustrated by a website at some point in time. Remember that, and guard against doing the same thing to your visitors. Managing a website is a big job, but an important one. Review your site regularly to make sure your visitors are having such an optimal experience that they will visit again, and more importantly, tell others about you and your site.

MARCIE

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Please contact us if you’d like help putting together your media kit, media releases, or book proposal. Free 30-minute consultation when you mention this post ($99 value).

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Monday, Sept.26 Internet Radio: Are interview opportunities just waiting for YOU?

Thursday, Sept. 22 Rehearse your BOOK PITCH until it rolls off your tongue fluidly

Monday, Sept. 19 Want to be attractive to the media? Include a MEDIA ROOM on your website!

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