2011 Writing Resolutions – Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Author Website

“That’s a great website!” Not exactly the best four words a writer can hear. “Here’s your book deal,” “Random House wants you,” “Please meet Mr. Patterson,” are all four word phrases that rank much higher in the writer’s scale of awesome-ness. (I’m a huge James Patterson fan and would love to sit and chat with him about the craft and, more importantly, the promotion of writing.) But having a website that people like spending time on, can interact with, and, most importantly, FIND, is key to turning yourself into a Brand (see yesterday’s post on Branding), building your author platform, and selling books. We all need to improve our websites. No matter if your website has won the Al Gore “I Invented the Internet so I Deem This Website Perfect” Award, your website needs to be updated constantly to remain something that provides fresh content and keeps people coming back. Therefore, as we continue the 2011 writing resolutions, I give you the Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Author Website: (By the way, these go in order from easiest to most difficult in terms of time and money.) 

5. Tag Your Site Properly. Let’s say little Tommy wants to get his parents a book as a last minute Christmas gift. He has no idea what authors his parents like, but he knows they like suspense thrillers. He whips out his iPhone, taps the Google app and says, “Thriller author” into the voice search. Ideally, we’d like our name to pop up first. But how to make sure that happens? By tagging our site with the right keywords. On my home page, my tags are “thriller, author, suspense, Mark Fadden, The Brink, writer, fiction, book.” My home page gets around 300 hits a week. Not bad, but when someone types in “thriller author” my website isn’t in the Google Top 10 results. I need to do better in 2011.

4. Have relevant content. It’s all about search engine optimization these days. What is SEO? Wikipedia defines it as, “is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.” I attended several talks this past year on SEO at my local community college and, as I understand it, the more often there is mention of the search term on your site, the more likely it will be toward the top of an organic search results page. Why? Because the search engines basically count how many times they see it on your page or site. Oh, and they also take into account how “fresh” your site is, so update often. Let’s take the “thriller author” term as an example. If that’s a key search term for you, then the words “thriller author” needs to be all over your site.  

3. Balance the words and pics. Back to the advice I got from an SEO presentation – your site should be pleasant to look at. As writers, we like words. But, we also need to have pictures and videos on the site. When was the last time you spent any time on a site that looked like a page from the dictionary? Sorry, your grandfather’s dictionary. No one has an actual dictionary in their house any longer.

2. Keep up to date on the latest SEO tips and tricks – Designing websites for SEO is always changing. As the technology gets better, so do the applications, tools, and techniques used to support that new technology. I get email updates from Search Engine Land. If you want to know about what’s going on in the world of SEO, this site has it.  

1. Hire a website designer. We’ve got to realize our limits. Chances are you have a day job, maybe a couple kids, and want to have some alone time every once in a while where you can spend some “me” time trying to finally get the blasted ship in the bottle! If you’ve got the scratch and you know a good designer, you may want to have some outside help in creating/updating your website to make it better and be SEO-ready. Just a tip here, make sure your designer builds it so you can update it whenever you like with your content and not screw up the entire design or break into some NSA computer by accident and launch missles at Russia. That would be a bad thing.

***REMINDER – ‘Beyond the Book’ will go dark from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. We’ll be back in 2011 with fresh ideas for all of us to be better ‘authorpreneurs’ in the new year. Happy Holidays to all!

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 My latest novel, The Brink, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Special Collection for a second time! Check it out at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210485/?cds2Pid=24451

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