Tuesday 11 June 2019

Writing a Book: Author Website, SEO and Keywords

I may have made a mistake. I recently paid for an SEO tool and to be honest, I am not sure it was a wise investment. Only when I spent time and effort on Keywords did I realise that I had a problem. Not one of my pages was showing up in Google Ranking, despite finding some promising keywords with low competition. I spoke to the staff of the SEO tool and asked whether it was their tool that was at fault and apparently the Google Ranking is nothing to do with them. So what went wrong and why do I feel that I has spent money unwisely?

Keywords are difficult and in Google Webmaster Tools I investigated many keywords and combinations of words and what they might score in terms of (a) the number of people searching for these keywords and (b) the competition. These are the essential parameters for finding optimised keywords.

Ideally you want a keyword that gets lots of people searching for it and also has low competition i.e. few websites containing these keywords. If the competition is high e.g. searching for FANTASY then there are large numbers of websites with that keyword. The optimum site using this keyword has it (1) in the web address (2) the page title (3) in the Meta Tag (4) in the first Heading (5) in subsequent headings. The key difficulty is in the web address and unless your website has YYYfantasy.com then it is unlikely to be found.

Searching for longer keywords such as High Fantasy narrows the search but on Google Webmaster High Fantasy has very low searches per month although the competition is lower. The problem is also knowing what people are searching for. A search for Recommended Books gets well over 1000 searches a month but again the competition is very high. Recommended Fantasy Books is a surprisingly low search rate. I have checked many combinations of keywords and many have a very low search rate. Many were 100 a month. They are simply not worth using although the conversion rate (i.e. the length of time people spend on your site is improved).

Sensibly, I searched what other authors use as keywords and guess what I found. Of the 10-11 author websites I looked at - there were absolutely no keywords. A lot of sites (the majority) used the authors name as the webpage address (mine is davidburrows.org.uk as an example) so unless you knew the author's name it was difficult to locate the web page. - in other words, other authors had hit the same problem I had.

I shall keep you informed if I make any progress to counter this view but authors are clearly finding other ways of getting their web pages found. For the likes of George RR Martin, this is easy as his books and his name are well known. For less well known authors it is having other websites point to their web page which is the key to getting traffic. Ideally a well known corporation (e.g. the BBC) discussing your book and linking to your website is a vast improvement. I have several good Book Review sites inking to my website and this has certainly helped my traffic.

So, as far as spending money on SEO and keywords, I would advise against this. If you have a different experience then let me know.