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Guest Post by Amy Chung from Pigeonhole Books

Authors, whether self-published or traditionally published, will at some point need to understand the importance of SEO as part of their online book marketing strategy. Most authors baulk at the idea of trying to capitalize on this phenomenon because some believe it is too difficult to master. In most cases however, the difficulty lies in the mere fact that authors don’t understand the basics of SEO. Let’s explore this notion thoroughly.

HOW DO SEARCH ENGINES WORK?
A search engine is a system that indexes information on the World Wide Web to allow everyday users find the data they are looking for.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Imagine the amount of information available on the Internet. If you were charged with the task of producing the most accurate data whenever anybody is looking for something, how would you do it? Where would you start? Which article, document or page would you grab first and why would you do that?

If you were the gate-keeper and someone was looking for 4 inch stiletto heels made of patent leather, you wouldn’t be retrieving contact details for a plumber. For this not to happen however, some very clever people created algorithms that help to succinctly compartmentalize information.

Common sense would prevail that these search engines would be looking for key words such as stiletto heels or patent leather. The next task they have to do is filter which pieces of information containing those keywords they should show you first. One would imagine that the page that mentions stiletto heels 50 times would appear before the page that only mentions it 5 times. Try typing in stiletto heels in Google. This search provided approximately 2,450,000 returns. Where would you be amongst that massive amount of data?

Society takes search engines for granted. You don’t even have to type your query into Google anymore! Just ask, literally! Google is as synonymous with search engines as Coca Cola is with soda. If you don’t know the answer to something, most people would tell you to “Google it”. The Internet and search engines have made our world so much smaller and if you want people to buy your books, you have to understand SEO.

WHAT IS SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the activity in which we engage in to try and organically improve our page rankings. How do you move from page 125 to page 1?

SEO is an essential part of ensuring your book is duly ranked when readers are looking to buy. It is about how we communicate to the web so that they can recommend you. The key word here is relevance. How relevant is your website/blog to the end user and what they are searching for?

Relevance is determined by the content of your website and search engines decide if it has suitable pages, titles and descriptions. It also looks at the performance of your website in terms of speed and ease of navigation. The number of link backs or citations is another big contributing factor to relevance, whilst retention rate of readers certainly also improves page rank.

SEO is highly complex and most indie authors will never understand its full potential. You do however at a minimum need to understand what it means and how it works so that you can at least try to produce information that is SEO friendly.

HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SEO

1) CONTENT
Content is key. This does not mean however that mentioning the words “children’s picture book” a million times is enough to get to page 1. I can assure you, that is not the case. New, relevant and fresh content on a regular basis is the key driver. Ensure the content is original, free of errors and well organized.

2) URL
Ensure your prime product or keyword is in your URL. E.g. http://www.books.com/childrens-picture-books.

3) SOCIAL MEDIA
Ensure you have social media sharing buttons on your website or blog. The more places the book you have written appears on the Internet, the better. Sharing also means you and those kind enough to share, are spruiking the same message and thus inevitably using the same keywords.

4) TITLE TAGS
Create effective title tags that include your keywords. Hence all of my posting begin with “Online Book Marketing Tips”. These words will consistently appear on URLs.

5) CORRECT TARGET
When creating new content, write for your followers and readers, not for search engines. Otherwise, you won’t be naturally creating the kind of content search engines are looking for.

6) JOIN GOOGLE
Google rewards those who are part of the family. Join Google+ to get a shot at improving your rankings. Listing your business on Google Maps makes a difference too!

7) SITE MAPS
Create a site map for your website so one can see where everything on your website is located. You would be surprised how many people actually use site maps and search engines seem to like this extra piece of information.

8) HEADERS
Use your headers! Write a description under your website name.

9) BACKLINKS
Getting other websites or blogs to produce a link back to your own website is one of the best ways to increase ranking. It shows credibility and is to be encouraged. Be careful however not to spam other blogs by providing your own back link through comments. Google frowns upon this and can be more detrimental than anything else.

10) RESEARCH
Google autofills the most popular search terms. Find out what they are and incorporate those phrases onto your pages. Do it every so often to see what is trending.

A sound understanding of SEO will form part of your everyday online activities. Everything you post across all your platforms should require some thought about how optimization.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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