Friday, July 9, 2010

Website Optimization 1

I thought it would be helpful to discuss some of the ways that writers can optimize their websites in hopes of seeing increased placement in the search engine pages.

The first question you are probably wondering is: that sounds great but how does this person know what the heck she's talking about? LOL

A quick bio on me: During my "day job", I work as the Director of Online Marketing--I head up multiple websites and am in charge of the usability of the sites as well as the search engine optimization (from here on out referred to as SEO--this is the art of optimizing a site so it shows up in the results pages of Google, Yahoo, etc). I've worked as an SEO content writer for a major SEO company and I'm certified in SEO by the Direct Marketer's Association.

So, with that out of the way, I want to preface this post by saying that I'll be posting about SEO as well as usability (how user friendly a website is, how to aid in converting your visitors to whatever goal you have in mind, etc.) so be sure to check back if this interests you.

For my other readers, not to worry--I'll also keep posting about other stuff in urban fantasy and paranormal romance and other books I like, etc.

Ok, today I want to talk about one of the most important subjects in SEO--keywords.

Just what are keywords and why do they matter? Keywords are what your visitors use to find your website at a basic level. This means your keywords are like the bread and butter of your site. Important to say the least. Keywords are a huge topic in and of themselves so for this post, I want to show you how to select keywords that best exemplify your site. In subsequent posts, I'll show you how to implement those keywords into the content of your site and in your page titles, descriptions, etc.

So, for today, let's focus on which keywords you should be focusing on.

The best tool I've found that also happens to be free is the Google Keyword Tool. You can find it here:

Google Keyword Tool

You should see this:

So, how do you use this tool? Well, first think of an overarching keyword that you think someone would use to find your website or your book. Questions to ask yourself--what is my book about, what types of characters does it involve, what genre would I classify it in, etc.

Let's use my book as an example--To Kill A Warlock--I think someone would search for my book under "urban fantasy" as a genre or maybe "paranormal fiction". There are fairies, vampires and warlocks in it as well as other creatures but I'll focus on those for now--so maybe someone might search for "vampire book" or "fairy fiction".

Just brainstorm and come up with some ideas on keywords you would use to search for your book.

By now you should have a list of maybe 5-10 keywords that you think describe your book. Now all you have to do is load them into Google's keyword tool as follows:

1. In the top left corner where it says words or phrase, add your keywords (one per line). Then hit Search.

For my keywords, this is what I show:

Look through your results and you'll notice that your original search words are in there as well as a bunch of synonyms Google thinks you might be interested in. This is why this tool is so great because it makes you consider other words that didn't occur to you before.

OK so look at all the words and then look at the numbers next to them, those numbers represent the amount of searches that people do for each particular word. This will help you decide which terms are the most popular.

Note--don't just pick all the terms with the highest searches associated with them! There are a few reasons why you shouldn't do this--first, your competition in the search pages will be much higher for the really high density search terms. Another reason, though, is that you want to have a balance of large scale search terms and terms that are much more targeted to your website.

Let me give you an example of how this works. Let's take my book again, To Kill A Warlock. It's a mystery, urban fantasy story about a fairy detective. Now, let's say someone searches on "urban fantasy" (which has quite a few searches associated with it) and finds my book. Who knows how likely they are to purchase said book. Now, let's say someone searches on "fairy fantasy mystery book". On this term, there will be way fewer searches associated with it because it's a way more specific search term than is urban fantasy. The person coming in on such a highly relevant term, though, will be much more likely to want to purchase a book like mine because it's right up their alley. We call terms like this "long tail terms" because they end up being more valuable in the long run because the conversion rate (or rate at which your visitor takes whatever action you want them to, aka buys your book, fills out your form, etc) is higher.

So practice around with this tool and see what words you come up with. Try to find a good balance of long tail terms and broad search terms. I aim for about 30 terms. You won't use them all on your website but it's better to have a broad variety of terms than not enough.

Once I decide on which keywords I want to use, I put them into an excel spreadsheet. Don't forget to list the searches associated with them!

On the next post, I'll explain how you'll use these keywords in your website.

Hope this was useful and would love any comments!


  1. Very, very useful info! Thanks so much. Looking forward to the next lesson!

  2. Hi John, thanks for the comment! I'll let everyone know when I post another one.

  3. Oh wow! So much useful info. I'm going to have to go over this a couple of times!

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  5. I just checked and found my site is getting 0% traffic from search engines. Looks like I have a lot to learn. Thanks for the details HP!

  6. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for reading my blog and following it!
    Keep in mind that with the search engines, everything takes time. So even if you optimize your site perfectly, it can still take months to show up.
    I am hoping to post another SEO article on Monday.
    Thanks again!