Thursday, April 14, 2011

What is SEO and Why Do I Care?

I am a writer by profession, and even though I enjoy my work as an editing manager and freelance journalist, it is never enough. If you are a writer, too, you know what I mean. You are always hunting, always searching, always sniffing out other job opportunities. The thrill of finding a new writing project is almost just as fun as doing the writing itself. Craigslist.org is my constant late-night friend.

One thing has changed in the writing ads lately, and that is SEO. Everyone is looking specifically for an "SEO Writer" or they want a writer who is experienced in SEO. It's everywhere. It's hip. It's becoming essential.

  • What is SEO? Search Engine Optimiztion.
  • Why is is important? It helps boost the search rankings of that website/blog/other so it comes out higher on Google.
  • Why should you care? Even if you aren't a writer by profession, if someday you want to write and market a book, you will need to know this stuff. 


Here is a great article about being an SEO writer. Read it for a little more background before you continue.

Now, where does SEO come in with you and your book? It comes mostly with marketing, which can begin even before you are done writing...

Let's say the book you want to write is about jewelry making. You have a blog with jewelry making tutorials, and then you start a website connected to your blog to sell some of the jewelry you have made. Later you write a book about jewelry making, and you want more people to find your site via online search to buy your book. How do you do it? Think SEO.

How can SEO help you? It will increase your rankings in Google. What features are there to SEO? Things like links to the best places to buy supplies, content specific to jewelry making like tip lists or how-to articles, perhaps even a free downloadable ebook about jewelry making. There are lots of components to SEO (make sure to research it or talk to someone who does it by profession). Basically, make your website a place for people to go who are interested in jewelry making.

So many authors think in terms of a website about them or their book. They need to think backwards. In terms of SEO, they need to make their website a portal for the information surrounding their book. That is how SEO works.

As you develop an author website, blog, social media campaign, etc., you'll want to keep SEO a priority so people can find you and buy your book. As you find out more about SEO, you will come to realize that the way you develop your online presence as an author, specifically through your website, will greatly impact how people will find you and thus book sales.
 
I've recently helped a few friends develop small business websites, and one things I have advised is for them to not only include the regular information you see on most websites (like a photo, contact information, about us, etc), but add lots of relevant content (typed text). For example, one friend is going to be selling real estate in Arizona. I offered to write up several real estate-related articles for her website. Why? So her site will have more relevant text. Text that is searchable via search engines. Think about it--when you type in "Phoenix houses for sale" into Google.com, what do you get? And if my friend wanted to be on the top of that list, she would need the text and other items on her site to help her get there. There are many many real estate agents in her area, so she needs to think in terms of SEO to set herself apart.

Here is another example: There are several financial gurus out there. Probably the most popular is Dave Ramsey. His website is chalk full of financial information, including advice, stories, videos, links, tools... the list is endless. It can be someone's one-stop-shop for financial information. Just one small component of Ramsey's empire are his books, which also happen to be bestsellers. So people are drawn to his site because of his knowledge and vast content, and many leave by ordering a book.

Is all of this making sense?

As you develop your own book marketing plan, make time to research SEO and figure out ways to make it work for you. Think about your site in terms of an information station and you'll be well on your way.

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