8 SEO Tips for Author Websites

You’ve probably heard about “search engine optimization” (or SEO). You probably know that doing it correctly can help your website get found. But what you may not understand is exactly how it works, what it involves, and what the benefits can be.

With that in mind, here are eight things you should know about search engine optimization for your author website.

1. SEO involves both what’s visible and what’s not. When Google looks at your website to determine what content it contains, it not only looks at the actual, visible words on your page; it also looks at your “meta data.” Each page on your site contains a title and keywords that aren’t visible to site visitors. Those are written specifically for the search engines. Make sure that whomever is developing your site gets the important keywords both in the visible text and in the metadata.

2. Don’t forget your name and book titles! It sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how few people think to include their name and book titles in their SEO efforts. There’s very little competition for those keywords, so make sure to take advantage of them.

3. Be content-rich. The search engines love information. After all, someone who is searching for something is generally looking for … well … information. So make sure that you have a site that’s full of helpful links, tips, blog entries, etc… on the topic. The more text you have, the higher you’ll climb on the SEO rankings.

4. Beware of images. This is the other end of the spectrum. Search engines can’t read the text on an image (they can read alt tags, but that’s for another day). While an author website needs to be nicely designed, don’t go too over the time and make the site purely made out of images. The search engines won’t be able to figure out what your site is or what it’s about.

5. Don’t try to trick Google. When SEO was first introduced, everyone began trying to game the system. They would put text in the same color as the background, so that no one could read it except the search engines. They would keyword stuff their metadata, and the keywords would have nothing to do with the topics covered on the site. While this may sound harmless, it’s not. Such SEO tricks can get you completely banned by the search engines!

6. When it comes to keywords, the more specific the better. This is the most common mistake made with SEO. And it’s not a “mistake,” really … it’s just a misappropriation of efforts. Let me explain. Say, for example, you wrote a book about parenting a child with allergies. You might think that your keywords should be “parenting” and “allergies.” Well, that would be a mistake. There are millions of sites about parenting. No matter how good your efforts, you’d never be able to crack the top 10 pages of search results. But if you optimized your site for “parenting kids with allergies,” you’d have a much better chance of climbing to the top of search results. As I said, the more specific the better.

7. Write blog entries on your specific keyword topics. Once you’ve selected the specific keywords you want to optimize for, make an extra effort to write content for your site specifically on that topic. Blog entries are a great way to do that. Going back to the “children with allergies” example, write blog entries as often as you can covering tips, news, advice, etc… on the topic, and optimize each one for that specific search term. This will help get your site climbing quickly on the results pages.

8. Be realistic. I’ve given you a lot of ideas here on how to optimize your site for search results. But that doesn’t mean that SEO is easy. It’s going to take weeks for any changes you make to start impacting your placement. And, even then, it’s a slow climb. SEO efforts won’t get your site to the top of Google search results tomorrow, but a smart, long-term effort can seriously increase the organic traffic to your author website.

Want more advice on marketing yourself and your books online? Contact us today for a free consultation!

Author Success Story: Allie Phillips

I’ll confess: I love Allie Phillips. Not only is she one of the kindest, politest people I’ve ever worked with, but she dedicates a chunk of her time to protecting animals: a very noble cause. So I was beyond thrilled when I noticed that, in a recent month, Allie got over 1,100 visitors to her site, AlliePhillips.com.

So what is she doing to get so much publicity for her books and her cause? Here’s what she had to say…

Who built your website? How was the experience?
Smart Authors built my book website and the experience was so seamless and wonderful that I had them build my coaching/healing website too (ManifestedHarmony.com)! They have always been available for follow up questions and tweaking both sites. The customer service has been fantastic!

Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in? Facebook? Twitter? GoodReads? LinkedIn? Any others?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. But I spend most of my time on Facebook because that seems far more interactive.

How many online followers do you have?
LinkedIn = 326
Pinterest (new) = 26

Alliephillips.com
Facebook = 1735
Twitter = 110

Manifestedharmony.com
Facebook = 638
Twitter = 115

How has your online presence (be it through a website or social networking profiles) increased your visibility/book sales?
The website, since the outset, has ended up being an educational portal where people can talk about how to help animals through my blog and other social media sites. My purpose in writing 2 animal protection books was to raise awareness about helping animals. So even though book sales have not [skyrocketed as a result of] the website, my mission of helping animals has.

For the manifestedharmony.com website, I believe that the website has increased my visibility. Since the website is global and has connected me to people from all over, it has encouraged me to move my practice to more online work (trainings, etc.) rather than in-person work. So the web presence is helping me to grow!

What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?
I still struggle with marketing and outreach. So it’s just perseverance everyday, posting on social networks and linking back to the websites, keeping people engaged and my two sites front and center. For the coaching/healing website, I started posting free videos which has been a huge success for getting views. I just use my camera to tape the footage and then use the IMovie feature on my Mac to edit them. I’m so not tech-savvy and I was able to figure it out. I think people like to see who we really are and videos are a great way to do that. I don’t think you need to do anything fancy with videos either. Just be yourself, be real. I also respond to every posting (whether on the website blog or social media) to show that people have a connection with me and in an age where we relate better to technology than people, I think that’s a bonus!

Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over again?
Get more help on marketing. It’s not my forte.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the process of building your online presence as an author?
The publishers are not helpful at all … it is up to the author to market their books and themselves. I was not prepared for that at all. One of the best moves that I made was getting myself into a professional writing network (the Cat Writer’s Association). I’ve learned so much about writing and publishing just by watching the numerous emails everyday that are posted to the group.

How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?
For alliephillips.com, I have business cards and post cards that I place inside books that I sign. I have all of my URL’s in my email signature. For manifestedharmony.com, I have multiple brochures, business cards, flyers. I have the URL’s on all printed materials, on videos, in my email signature.

Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….
Outreach is crucial to being an author or online business person. Creativity will get you noticed, so do not be afraid to be yourself. In fact, it is essential that you portray who you really are and get comfortable with being different. If you are comfortable with videos, I highly recommend posting those on your website. Just realize that the outreach and marketing never ends … it is hand-in-hand with the creativity of being an author.

Ready to talk with us about building your own author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!

Author Success Stories: John Kuhn and Mark Mullins

John Kuhn and Mark Mullins are business consultants with decades of corporate, entrepreneurial and academic experience. Their newly published book is Street Smart Disciplines of Successful People – 7 Indispensable Disciplines for Breakout Success. And their website, StreetSmartDisciplines.com, has been a success as well, with over 500 visitors in the past month. So how did they do it? Read on to hear their answers to our questions…


Who built your website? How was the experience?

Smart Author Sites did our website. It was a great experience. A very seasoned team of pros that understand what authors need. Outstanding guidance and quality creative suggestion. Completed ON TIME and ON BUDGET!

Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in? Facebook? Twitter? GoodReads? LinkedIn? Any others?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, GoodReads

How has your online presence (be it through a website or social networking profiles) increased your visibility/book sales?

We have used our website as the primary platform to communication our book’s message and the value to the reader… As we designed our social media campaign, we built it to direct people to our website and let the website do the selling for us.

What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?

Provide overwhelming and compelling evidence to our potential readers that they will gain tremendous value from reading our book. We recommend that all authors provide entertaining and informative details regarding the book and be selling ALL the time.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the process of building your online presence as an author?

Being “famous” online does NOT translate to book sales! You have to be actively soliciting people every day to buy your book… use blogs, use articles about your book, post pictures and create some video to post as well… Any time we posted these items we got more traffic, which usually resulted in more book sales.


How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?

EVERYWHERE… Every blog, every article, email signatures, business cards, in our book, in our videos, we mention it in all radio interviews and have the show host post it to their website and on all promotional materials.

Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….

Don’t quit! This is really hard. Edit your work a bunch of times and then have other editors look at it too… Then have someone, at the end, when you think you’re done proof the entire book… You will be shocked at how much you missed that was just about to be published! Yikes!

Author Success Story: Chip Wagar

Most authors would kill to get 500 visits to their website in a month. But that’s exactly what Chip Wagar accomplished in December on his author website, AnAmericaninVienna.com.

So how did he do it? Here’s what he had to say…

Who built your website? How was the experience?

Smart Author Sites.  It was a great experience. They listened carefully to my ideas and carefully crafted a website that conveyed the essence and spirit of my book.

Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in? Facebook? Twitter? GoodReads? LinkedIn? Any others?

Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, History News Network, Bees Knees Reviews, Book Page Shoutouts, Deranged Book Lovers,  among others.

How many online followers do you have? How many pageviews have you gotten on your website?

I have over 134 Twitter followers and a similar number of “Likes” on Facebook.  I generally range between 12-40 page views a day on Facebook.

How has your online presence (be it through a website or social networking profiles) increased your visibility/book sales?

I don’t think there is any question that my book’s sales would not be nearly what they are without an on-line presence in this day and age.  I do not advertise in any other way.

What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?

I try to find users on Facebook or Twitter who share common interests with the themes and times of my book.  For example, genealogy, history, travel and so forth are all good areas for me given the book involves historical fiction.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over again?

Get started sooner on FB and other social media sites.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the process of building your online presence as an author?

Posting frequently helps a lot in building online presence.

How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?

I usually funnel users to my website through social media.

Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….

There are very few “instant” successes among authors, particularly for your first book.  Be patient.  I believe that there are many Pulitzer Prize quality books out there that have not gotten recognition or sales because of flawed marketing efforts.

Author Success Story: Soren Kaplan

Almost exactly one year ago, I launched a website for a new client: Soren Kaplan. I must confess … I always did like the site that we built for him, Leapfrogging.com, but I didn’t have any idea quite how successful it would be.

After quickly browsing his recent statistics, I found that Soren has steadily been getting over 500 visitors each month to his site. That’s pretty impressive.

With that in mind, I posed some questions to Soren about what he believes is the secret to his success. Hopefully, these ideas will help other authors take their websites to the next level. Enjoy!


Who built your website? How was the experience?

Smart Author Sites.  Entire site for under $2k!

Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in? Facebook? Twitter? GoodReads? LinkedIn? Any others?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

How has your online presence (be it through a website or social networking profiles) increased your visibility/book sales?

Social network is the name of the game.  Also writing for blogs like ldrlb.co and fastcompany.com provides opportunities for others to tweet out and promote articles that reinforce the book.

What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?

Use Hootsuite to automate twitter posting.  I post 5-7 custom tweets per day and the system does it for me so I spend literally no time myself tweeting!

Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over again?

I would be sure to integrate Facebook from the start so people could “like” my home page and each and every blog post.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the process of building your online presence as an author?

It’s a journey, not a one-time event!

How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?

I’m constantly writing for blogs where my website is listed with my bio, business cards, email signature, twitter, Facebook, Linkedin.

Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….

Don’t worry about book sales!  Keep writing and following your passion and the sales will come.

Keep an eye on what your ultimate goal is… Is it really book sales, or is it about finding paid speaking opportunities, consulting projects, or something else?  And remember, book marketing is a journey, not a one-time event.

5 Ways to Boost Your Email Efforts

In today’s world of social media, some people like to proclaim that “email is dead.” They’re wrong.

But all of this does mean that you might need to work a little bit harder at making your email efforts successful.

Here are five things to keep in mind, courtesy of Internet & Marketing Report, as you build an email campaign to promote your author website and your book.

1. Pay attention to your subject line. Remember: the email that you’re writing is essentially a marketing tool. So choose the wording wisely. For example, subject lines that include the word “exclusive” or touts the “top 10” of something lead to a much higher open rate.

2. Treat email as a two-way street. Send out an email to your readership asking them to review your book (with a link for them to do so). Or encourage them to respond to your email with questions, which you can then answer in future blog posts. Emails asking people to offer their own opinions on things get a 39% higher click-through rate.

3. Always send a welcome email. Go ahead. Sign up for your own email list. What do you receive? How quickly do you receive it? By going through this process yourself, you will get a chance to see exactly what happens to your fans when they enter their email address. If you don’t have an automated email that goes out within a reasonable amount of time after sign-up, you’re likely to lose that person. “Sometimes they forget they signed up or flat out ignore companies’ email by the time the first one hits their inbox,” according to the report.

4. Clearly spell out what users should expect. First, you have to get someone to give you their email address. To do so, you must clearly explain what it is that they will be getting by doing so. For example, will they be receiving daily emails? Weekly emails? Or only emails when you have big news to share? Make this information very clear in the sign-up area, and then re-state the information, either in the “welcome” email or in a follow-up email.

5.  Avoid clutter and long emails. Some people like to use their emails to readers as places to share their latest and greatest stories. But be forewarned: people probably aren’t going to read it. According to Internet & Marketing Report, here are some questions to ask yourself to find out if your email is too cluttered:

  • Does it take more than 30 seconds to read?
  • Does it look and feel like a full page on a website? Or worse … like a magazine?
  • Does it have multiple calls to action?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time to pare down your email efforts.

12 Creative Ideas for Promoting Your Book Online

I spend a little time each week browsing the author groups on LinkedIn and such. Sometimes, I come across a gem of a conversation. Today, I came across a bunch!

With that in mind, I am pulling some of the best and most creative ideas that I found in today’s author discussions. The topic? Creative and interesting ways to promote a book online. Here are some of the more promising ideas I found….

  1. Create a Facebook account for your main character.
  2. Invite readers to review your book right on your blog.
  3. Interview some of your favorite authors.
  4. Share a glimpse into your writing process.
    (We do that a lot on our author sites with a Behind the Book page or Book Secrets page)
  5. Conduct a contest of some kind to give away a free book, an autographed book, etc…
  6. Ask for audience contributions to your next book.
  7. Tie your book into a charity.
  8. Share your perspective and updates on author events.
  9. Tie your book and your blog into current events, upcoming holidays, etc…
  10. Review other books in a similar genre on your blog … then ask those authors to do the same.
  11. Allow readers to submit their own reviews on your website.
    (We often use the WordPress comments box to allow this)
  12. Offer glimpses into your book … like one free chapter a week. But make people give you their email address before you let them read a segment.

It’s amazing. Just a quick browse of a few conversations and I got this bunch of amazing ideas. Gotta love the internet…


Marketing Your Book: What Our Authors Are Doing

It occurred to me recently that most of the authors that I work with have absolutely no idea what other clients are doing to drive traffic to their website … and how those efforts are paying off.

With that in mind, I thought I would take a few minutes today to update you on some of the recent marketing efforts of some of our clients. All of these are in the works now, and I will plan on posting again in a few weeks with updates on each of these campaigns and how they are doing.

Hopefully, this will provide ideas to other authors, and allow all of you to get a good idea of what’s working for authors in your genre.

Kathy Silverman and Lisa Bloch
TheManopauseMan.com
Marketing campaign: Advanced search engine optimization

The website for this new book, the Manopause Man, was just launched a week and a half ago. Our next project is to optimize the website for various keywords. Because this book and website is based on a very real topic — menopause for men — we know that people are going to Google and searching for terms like “menopause symptoms for men” and “male midlife crisis.” With that in mind, I worked closely with the authors to determine exactly which types of keywords they think people searching for information on the topic would be searching for. I then went ahead and did some keyword research to determine the 15-or-so specific series of words related to these topics that are being searched for most often. For example, “low-t” is searched for 368,000 times per month on Google, and “menopause for men” is searched for over 22,000 times.

Status: After selecting the specific keywords that we want to target, we are now working on implementing those keywords both on the front and back end of the website. I expect that in the next month or so, this site should start climbing up the rankings for the search terms we’ve honed in on.

Ronald A. Cooper
RonaldACooper.com
Marketing campaign: Blog tour

Ronald is a preacher in an African American church. His new book is an inspirational, uplifting, self-help book that speaks directly to his audience of followers. Every time he has had a chance to speak about his book to the African-American, Christian community, he has sold copies like wildfire. The challenge has been to expose his audience to the book.

Enter the blog tour. After working closely with Ronald, we identified about 30 different bloggers, websites, book reviewers and book clubs that speak specifically to his target audience. We looked closely at what each of these sites do (i.e. review books, interview authors, etc…) and customized letters to each one, encouraging them to include Ronald and/or his book in their updates. Any reference to Ronald or his book will, of course, include a link to his website and a link to purchase the book.

Status: Letters were sent out to all of the websites four days ago. We have now heard back from one person, asking Ronald to write a guest blog post for that site, and send along a bio, a photo, etc… We expect to hear from more in the near future.

Patrick Maguire, MD
TheCancerMD.com
Marketing campaign: Google Adwords campaign

Dr. Maguire is an oncologist who wrote a book for the general public about common forms of cancer, and their prevention and treatment methods. He also offers a copy of the e-book for sale on his website.

With September being Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Maguire wants to take this opportunity to really get the word out about the subjects. With that in mind, he’s decided to temporarily lower the price of the e-book to 99 cents … and use Google Adwords to promote the promotional rate.

With Google Adwords, you can select the search terms on which you want your ads to appear, write the specific text that will show up on a user’s results page, and bid on how much you’re willing to pay per click for those visits. That’s usually less than a dollar a click … and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website. Unlike traditional search engine optimization, these results are immediate.

Status: We will be setting up the Google Adwords campaign any day now. Do a search for “breast cancer awareness month” sometime next week and you will see Dr. Maguire’s ad. We plan to run this campaign for as long as his discount e-book price is in effect; probably until the end of October.

Check back soon and I will let you know how each of these campaigns are doing!

Using Pinterest to Sell Books

If you’re under the age of 30, you probably use Pinterest all the time. If you’re over 30 (like me), you’ve probably heard of it, but haven’t really used it. Well, now I’m going to tell you how you can not only use it, but use it to sell books.

First, let’s define what Pinterest is. It’s a social networking website (like Facebook), but it’s focused on photos. It describes itself as “an online pinboard” where you can “organize and share things you love.” Basically, it’s a place where you can “pin” the photos you find on the web that you like, and your “friends” — or people with common interests — will come to see what you’ve added to your pinboard recently. Each of those images will then link back to the website from which they came.

Okay, so how can you use this to promote a book? Well, a few ways…

First and foremost, make sure to pin your book cover to your Pinterest board! This is a no-brainer, right? It’s a great way to get your book cover in front of new eyes.

Next, make it easy for others to pin your photos to their boards. Again, a simple solution that not everyone is doing.

On your author website, offer a “Pin this” option on not only your book cover, but all the images you use on your profile page, your blog, your events, etc…  There are simple Plug-Ins in WordPress that automatically add that option to your images.

So how does this help? Well, the more photos of yours that people are pinning, the more traffic will ultimately link back to your author website. And the more traffic you get to the website, the more books you’re likely to sell. It’s a chain reaction.

According to author Julie Ortolon, “Rather than simply pin things straight to Pinterest I post things on my site, then pin from there which embeds a link to my site with the pin. Pinterest let’s me post it to Facebook as well. Every time someone repins my original pin, the link to my web site travels with it. I’m offering content that brings traffic to my site, so more human eyeballs on my ebook covers without me ever having to post or tweet ‘buy my ebook!’”

Yet another great way to use social networking to sell books!

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The 3 Best Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Author Website

Okay, you’ve finally built that author website. It’s beautiful. It’s easy to use. It’s a great means of promoting your book. Now, you need to get people to find it … which is easier said than done, by the way.

Here are the three main methods for increasing your website traffic, and hopefully increasing book sales as a result.

1. Spread the word.
How do friends, family, fans, coworkers, etc… know that your website exists? Because you tell them! Get business cards printed with your website’s URL on it. Include a link to your site at the footer of every email you send out. Make sure there’s a link to your site on your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn profile, etc… Get the URL in the faces of as many friends and colleagues — and even people you just cross paths with — as possible.

2. Optimize.
You’ve heard about search engine optimization (or SEO). What you might not understand is exactly what it is or how it can improve your website traffic. We offer a search engine optimization service to our clients, and it goes like this. First, we work with our clients to come up with a list of search terms that we think people searching for the book might enter into Google or Yahoo. Then we do the extensive research to determine exactly which phrases or keywords in those areas people are actually searching for. Finally, we go through the site and adjust the text — both on the front end (what people see) and on the back end (what only the search engines see) — in order to ensure that the site will show up prominently on the search results pages for those terms. This technique is especially effective for authors who have written nonfiction books, as people are far more likely to be searching for something like, “how to write a good resume,” as opposed to “great sci-fi novel.”

3. Encourage sharing.
Ten years ago, SEO was the newest, hottest way to drive traffic to a website. It’s still pretty important, but social sharing has now become the goldmine for drawing in new site visitors. Make sure that every page on your website, and every blog post, offers sharing options. This will allow readers who like what you have to say to “share” it with their friends via Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, etc… Even if you don’t know these sites from Adam, it’s worth offering these sharing options on everything you write. Once someone “shares” your page or post with their friends, they’re essentially recommending it to everyone. So unlike SEO, in which you’re just guaranteed placement on a page, a social share is essentially like getting a recommendation from someone that people trust. Research shows that you’re far more likely to get people involved in your site (i.e. commenting, buying your book, etc…) from a share link rather than through a search engine. In order to encourage shares, write things that are sharable. People tend to share things that are funny, informational, helpful, controversial, etc… So think about what type of posts (in the subject matter related to your writing or your books, of course) people would want to share with their friends. In short, if you want to increase shares, stop talking about what you made for dinner and start blogging about the secrets to good writing.

Utilizing any one of these three tactics will increase traffic to your website. All three? Well, you’ll be a very popular person in a very short amount of time.