Monday, January 21, 2013
Using Blog SEO in Your Book Marketing Efforts
Courtesy of Ray Robinson
A large number of self published authors start a blog with the two-fold intention of communicating with readers AND building better book marketing success. A blog about a self published book can be a very effective book marketing tool for promoting a book and distributing information. However, a blog is also highly effective at driving search engine rankings and a key part of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan for your web site.
Too many author blogs are not only incredibly boring – they are also nearly impossible to find in a relevant search (based upon the topic of the book) on Google. I can’t really cover the ‘make your posts interesting’ message in this article, but I CAN address using your blog as a key element of your book marketing through utilizing smart key words and key phrases to drive search traffic.
Self published authors often feel a bit lost after having a web site and blog built, because they’ve not been faced with developing blogs posts that contain relevant search keywords. I don’t promise to turn you into a SEO book marketing wizard, but I’ve developed a few strategies and ideas that you can implement on your self published book’s web site and blog to increase your traffic and build visibility for your book.
I’ve written extensively on creating a book marketing plan – and a core precept of those articles is the identification of your target customer. No matter what you came up with, everybody uses Google and its brethren search engines. You need to create a list of the keywords and key phrases that a potential reader might search for – and in turn, would indicate they are interested in your book. These keywords and key phrases must be items that are directly referenced in your book. Don’t go too broad – for example just because a character in your book drinks soda doesn’t mean someone searching for “Coca-Cola” cares about either your blog or your self published book.
Sure, writing an ‘off-the-cuff’ blog might be more fun, and it often might be more interesting to your immediate friends and family – but does American Idol really relate to your topic or book? Using the keywords you discover in the above section, make it a habit to first write posts that fit those topics. Your blog content plan should be structured to attract those readers – but it can still be flexible enough to let your personality show through and have some ‘fun’ posts. You might even take keywords or key phrases and assign them to future days or posts – to keep your writing on task and focused.
Your blog posts still need to be readable and not sound like they’ve been spit out of some automated system. You need to write posts that are a balance of good writing / reading and great content that attracts search engines. These are not mutually exclusive goals – if you can accomplish both, you will find your readers more engaged with your topic (and possibly more inclined to buy your book) and you will discover your web site / blog is building more traffic due to its increased exposure in the search engine listings.
Here’s a quick list of items that will improve your book marketing efforts while building reader engagement with your content:
Put the key words or phrase right at the beginning of the post title – just make sure it makes sense to your reader. The post ‘title’ is the text that will show up in search results.For example, in this post my title is Blog SEO and Book Marketing for Self Publishing – this covers the article topic (blog SEO), the category within the world of self publishing (book marketing), and a quick push of my site’s main focus (self publishing). All combine to tell the reader exactly what to expect AND give great SEO.
The first bit of text in the body of your post should be a 1-Head (or Heading 1 style in many blog systems). This text should expand on the Title and further explain what you are going to tell the reader. Think of it as you would ‘sub title’ to your book. In this post it’s Using Blog SEO in Your Book Marketing Efforts – expanding on my Title, using two of my key phrases again.
Here’s where your blog post can begin to read more like book marketing copy than good writing – and is the ‘balance’ I discussed earlier in this post. Search engine optimization means that Google and the other search engines easily ‘discover’ the focus of your site and posts – which in turn means you don’t use vague descriptors like “it.” Always be specific! See what I did above? One of my key phrases is “book marketing” – and I managed to include the words “book marketing” in my first sentence – where I could have just used “marketing copy” … or, even in this sentence just a few words ago where I could have just used ‘it’ but chose to use ‘…include the words book marketing copy…’ Just don’t go crazy with it – or you’ll lose your reader.
If your blog is focused, then many of your posts should cover related topics – and try to use a key words or phrases within the body that direct the reader to additional content. You can refer readers to earlier posts by using a phrase within the post that is related to both your current topic AND the topic of the related content. See what I did above where I directed to you a link on the Dog Ear Publishing site about creating a book marketing plan? Includes my key phrase ‘book marketing plan’ AND takes you to relevant content on our sister site Dog Ear Publishing. By using a key phrase in my link, I’ve let you know that the article I’m sending you to is about book marketing – and specifically about creating a book marketing plan. Much better than this:http://dogearpublishing.net/newsletter_060101.aspx?utm_source=selfpubtoday&utm_medium=blog.
All blogs allow you to set categories and tags for your posts – these should match or at least be centered around the keywords and key phrases you are optimizing.
The items above all contribute to writing good blog content and setting up strong blog SEO – while contributing to the overall marketing of your book. Self published authors need lots of book marketing options that have little to no cost, and blogs are a wonderful way to help build the success of your book. Spending some time on improving the SEO value of your blog and posts will result in better search engine rankings and site traffic.
Here are some ‘tech’ details that will improve your blog results:
- Blogging Software -
We use WordPress on our self published author sites – and it works great. Any of the easily available products – WordPress, Blogger, MovableType or Typepad – work just fine. Run through a few of them to get an idea of which you like best – if the blog software is too hard to use, or you just don’t like the way it works, then you won’t use it…
- Add Your Blog to Your Domain -
If you really want search engines to drive traffic to your site, then your blog should be hosted right on your book’s web site. Running your blog and book marketing efforts on a domain different from your primary web site just sends traffic AWAY from where you really want it to go. Putting the blog directly within your domain delivers far more for your marketing efforts – building links, attention, engagement and search rankings.
- Be Engaged in Your Target Market -
No matter what focus your book takes, there is someone, somewhere, already blogging about the topic. Online communities already exist and ahve active members. Be engaged in this community and invite others to visit your blog.
- Research Your Content Titles and Tag Your Content -
This starts getting a bit more complex – though the easy part is to research the keywords and key phrases you want to use in your blog book marketing. Do this by visiting Technorati and look for similar tags. If you aren’t familiar, check it out…
- Keep Your Content Focused on Your Book Marketing Goals -
Did a HUGE story just break that relates to your core topic? That doesn’t really mean you should actually write about it in your blog (though you might want to link to it so your readers know you are aware…) Your blog must provide unique and valuable content – not a regurgitation of the latest news.
- Add Something Extra -
Who said your blog should only include text? Got a YouTube video that covers your core topic? Pictures? Some cool gallery? While text is certainly the most ‘seo friendly’ content – the occasional fun bit is nice.
- Deliver Great Content -
Writing blog posts that focus on your book marketing efforts, are well-constructed to deliver good SEO, AND appeal to your core readership is challenging. Keeping focused and writing along a ‘plan’ will turn it into a habit – and you’ll bring your ‘voice’ into the conversation without sacrificing your marketing goals. Try not to stray from your original writing style – or you’ll disappoint your readers, either when they buy your book or within the course of the conversation on your blog.
- You, as a “Brand” -
One of our guest bloggers wrote an article on the difference between book marketing, book advertising, and PR. The article discusses the importance of building up you, the author, as a brand. Your blog will be a cornerstone in creating an awareness of you, your book, and your ideas. All of these contribute to what your readers will come to see as your ‘brand’.
OK – enough already – I’m sure I’ve written more on blogs, book marketing, and SEO than you’d ever care to know… but I hope these strategies will help you build success in your self publishing efforts.
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it interesting and helpful.