As I am writing this SEO Help: 20 steps to get your website on Google’s #1 page is riding high on the Amazon best-seller charts for books on SEO and Internet Marketing, on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s at the No 42 position in the UK and No 48 for the US which provides consistency and, from an author’s point of view, a certain sense of achievement.
Its success however is no accident. It is the result of a carefully orchestrated publicity and search engine optimization campaign which uses many of the elements the book itself contains. If you have a book and want to promote it online search engine optimization is an integral part of your marketing.
I have broken down here some of the things you need to consider as an author seeking to publicise a book. The beauty of it is that they cost little (if anything) and, handled correctly for worthwhile books, they give back huge returns.
Step 1: Make sure you have a website – It does not need to be anything hugely expensive. I know a new author is always checking costs because the budget simply is not there. If it is get the fanciest, most robust website you can because it will be a platform for your online activities. If, however, you are working on a shoestring grab a free blogging site from either Blogger or Wordpress, do a little customization and use that as your online platform which will help publicize your book. Both Blogger and Wordpress come with complete on-board SEO tools you can use and, of course, if you have your own website you will have a lot more flexibility in terms of optimizing its content and the site itself.
Step 2: Make sure you have online content which is of real value to your readers – The web works best when it’s free and online visitors can get something which they need. Unfortunately, when it comes to books free does not really make a lot of business sense (though I have created an on-page search engine optimization eBook which costs nothing) and the whole point of all this activity is to help your book sales, so make sure it has the kind of value which readers need. This means that your online content and blog posts should address a real need and deliver some real answers.
Step 3: Make sure you are networked – Today there is simply no excuse not to have a Facebook page I know this may seem to be a duplication of work but it makes sense. You want your potential readers to be able to find you where they hang out not just where you are and Facebook seems to have become the de-facto hang-out of the world’s most web-savvy online population. Twitter is the best-known real-time media website. Both of these should be part of your online publicity arsenal and you should make it easy for those who come to your site to follow you on both and those who find you to visit your website.
Step 4: Understand SEO basics – search engine optimization is a vital tool when it comes to making your website presence felt. Help My SEO, for instance, attracts over 4,000 unique visitors a month who find it primarily through online searches for content. About a third of these will come back to the site each month and a minimum 10% will go on and buy the book from Amazon (which is why SEO Help has been an SEO Best-selling book since it came out in January 2010).
Step 5: Include critical information – in addition to the content you create include, somewhere on your website a little about your book, any reviews it may have got and where to buy it either as an eBook or paper copy.
Step 6: Create an identity – way too often authors get shy online. They refuse to voice opinions or post content which may be too narrow in its point of view for fear of clouding the fact that their work should speak for itself. Understand that online is the only contact most people will have with you. When they get on your website or your Facebook page potential readers want to know a little about you and what you do. Give them a bland impression and all they will have to work with will be so little that they will fail to engage and become more likely to simply click and go away.
Step 7: Do not be afraid to be generous – I know only too well that hard-earned knowledge and expertise costs and even a fiction writer may be less than forthcoming about how they write a book and how they work characterization, for instance. It is even more so with SEO but knowledge is also a way of engaging people and forming working relationships and getting readers. On my Facebook page I offer free SEO advice to specific questions. I also answer specific SEO questions they send my either through Help My SEO or in my Facebook inbox. In each case I know I am helping people who need help the most and I hope that some of them might go ahead any buy my book or at least recommend my book to someone who needs it.
There are, of course, a whole lot of other things you should be doing also like writing articles, Press Releases and forum activity. All of this is important but if you are pressed for time then the seven steps outlined here will help attract both search engine and real online visitor attention to your book and this should impact positively on sales.