Many authors will build a website, put their book up for sale on it, then never make changes to their website again. But that’s like opening a store and not advertising or even putting up an “OPEN” sign. People will not find your website if it’s stagnant because the search engines that determine which websites get the top rankings in search results are constantly looking for new content on websites. Authors who want to sell books need to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) by constantly updating content, writing articles, and creating keyword rich content for their websites.
SEO: Getting Readers to Your Website
How do you achieve SEO results? You constantly add new content to your website. There are many ways to create new and keyword rich content for your site. One of the best is to write short articles and informative pieces. Having a blog connected to your website where you regularly blog or post articles is also greatly helpful.
“Articles and blogs about what?” you may ask, or “But I’m a fiction writer so what would I write articles about?” Articles can be about anything relevant to your book and its topic. If you’ve written a nonfiction book, “how to” or informational articles would be appropriate. If you write fiction, you could post short stories but you could also post some informational and educational articles about writing a book in your genre, about the background of your book, such as the history behind it if it’s a historical novel or the places where your novel is set. If you write romance novels, then post articles about romance, dating, how to find the perfect mate, what makes for great romance, and what makes for great romance fiction. There are myriads of possibilities for good articles, and you are an expert in your subject matter, so it should be easy for you to find new content once you start looking.
Writing articles is also great for furthering your project with your next book. For example, if you’re doing research for a future book, write some articles about the interesting information you’re discovering. Such articles are also great for getting feedback and seeing what kind of interest your topic has with your audience. Think of articles as being a form of rough drafts for your next book, and thereby, kill two birds with one stone-you can mine these articles later for that next book while in the meantime using the articles to attract people to your website to buy the first book.
Have I convinced you yet that it’s important to write articles and update your content? Good. Now that you know you’re going to write those articles, don’t forget your purpose is to get potential readers to your website, and to do that, you need to focus on SEO. To achieve good SEO, you need to plant keywords in your articles and to use them frequently without overusing them. So for example, if your keyword is “romance” you should plant it a couple of times per paragraph, or at least some version of it such as “romantic.” Just don’t overdo it by using the keyword in every line so it sounds repetitive and so the search engines think you’re purposely trying to trick them. You should have a few keywords for each article, but not more than ten. Less is more, so focus on using the best keywords possible. You can use a couple of them continuously and then less important ones might only occur once or twice.
Be sure that you also use long tail keywords-think of these as more like key phrases of two to five words. For example, if “romance” is your keyword, then your long tail keywords might include: Victorian romance, Regency romance, romantic getaways, romantic candlelight dinners, same-sex romance, gay romance, paranormal romance, interracial romance, interracial dating, finding the right man, finding love in the Internet age, Internet dating, finding Mr. Right-you get the idea. The reason why long tail keywords are important is they are more specific. People are less likely to search for “Mr. Right” than “how to find Mr. Right.” So if someone types into the search engine, “how to find Mr. Right” your long tail keyword will capture the results over a website that solely has “Mr. Right” as a keyword.
Also, don’t go overboard. Leave readers wanting more. Keep your articles fairly short-the equivalent of 2-3 pages tops or not to exceed 1,500 words. People read faster and have a shorter attention span online. If your article is longer than that, break it up into parts and run it as a series. Besides, by keeping it short rather than sharing every detail you know, people will feel like they want to know more and will then buy your book. Don’t be afraid to let them know you cover a topic in more detail in your book.
Getting Readers to Stay and Return to Your Website
Beyond getting readers to your website with your articles, you want to get them to stay. Your articles will tell readers you are knowledgeable about your topic and that you have information they want. They might then buy your book, but they might also keep coming back to read your latest articles and gain more from your experience and knowledge. And you want to keep them coming back, which is why you want to keep posting new articles as frequently as you can-once a week is a good goal, three times a week is even better.
It can be some work to keep coming up with new content, but as I said, it can also be fun and a way for you to continue working on your next project, and that constantly generated new content can keep readers’ attention and serve as a preview for the next book so readers will be looking forward to it, and ultimately, so they will buy it.
Don’t make it all about you either-you can review other people’s books on topics similar to yours, and you can invite other experts and authors on related topics to write short articles for your website or make guest appearances by you interviewing them on your website. And hopefully, they will then return the favor by hosting you on their websites. That way you will reach their website’s audience and they will reach yours, thus increasing the possible number of visitors and customers you can both have.
Finally, don’t forget to make your site user-friendly and open to conversation. Have a place for people to post comments and ask questions of you, and always respond to their comments on the site so other visitors know you are approachable, friendly, and knowledgeable. If people ask a good question, instead of writing a brief reply of a couple of sentences, use it as an opportunity for content for a new article. If you don’t know the answer to a question, do some research and find it. If people point out a shortcoming in your article or information, thank them for the information and use it as a way to engage in conversation. You’d be surprised how many books have been sold to people who initially question and even appear hostile to an author, but who with a little friendly repartee, end up buying a book and becoming one of your biggest fans. Often people just want to be acknowledged as having something to say.
All these activities will drive traffic to your website and help you to keep people coming back, and ultimately, keeping your website content updated can help you to sell books.