Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the continuous process of implementing enhancements on a Website (or a specific webpage), a blog (or a specific blog post) for the aim of increasing the quality and the quantity of the natural traffic (or organic web traffic) coming from searches performed on search engines.
The key words here are:
- Traffic Quantity
- Traffic Quality
SEO is a Continuous process. You don't write a content and do your SEO homework and stop. The process should be ongoing. Your content requires revisiting and fine-tuning every now and then. You might need to update your blog / website with new information that just popped up after publishing it. Your readers deserve fresh content, otherwise, they will consider it old and outdated. SEO technical considerations and measures keep changing, too. Therefore, you should always be up-to-date with what's going on and timely implementing changes where needed. Search Engines' algorithms contains hundreds of factors and parameters and they keep continuously changing, and SEO practices might need update or realignment to cope with these changes.
Traffic Quantity. You should always aim for more traffic volume. In general, the more visitors your website gets, the more popular it is. It will lead to better ranks on search engines and more potential conversions (we'll come to this in a moment). But traffic quantity should be thought of alongside Traffic Quality. Traffic Quality means that your website / blog are receiving visits from its targeted audience. In other words, your website / blog was successful to reach and get the attention of those targeted audience you are interested in and not just any visitor.
The traffic we are concerned about in SEO is called Organic traffic. Your website / blog might receive visitors through paid ads on search engines, this is called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) but it is a different topic. As far as SEO is concerned, we should aim for and consider the natural traffic coming from search engines (such as Google, Bing, Yandex, and others) by people searching for certain search terms, clicking on links in search results and land on your webpage or blog.
Is SEO Important for Authors? and Why?
SEO is very important and crucial for your website / blog. If your content is not optimized and the required SEO enhancements were not implemented, the efforts you made writing your content may go in vain.
We talked about conversion earlier. What is it? Conversion in terms of websites means that the intended goal for each webpage had been accomplished. It means that the visitor to your page had performed a certain action. The conversion to your (Buy My Book) page would be purchasing / ordering your book; conversion to your (Contact the Author) page would be completing the contact form or using the contact information you availed on that page for your visitors to establish communication with you. A successful implementation of SEO practices, help you more in increasing this conversion rate. We cannot say that every one visiting your (Buy My Book) page will actually order your book, but, the potential for ordering your book will be higher (the percentage of visitors buying your book compared to the total number of visitors).
The proper implementation of SEO will increase the potential for having the quality traffic. If you are an author writing romance novels, and your pages are being visited by readers seeking thriller novels, then you are not receiving quality traffic. In this example, you were (somehow) half successful; you were able to lead people who are interested in reading novels, but not romance novels. You were able to tell search engines that you are an author and you have books available to order, but you were not able to complete the message and tell search engines that you write romance and your books are romance novels. Quality traffic here means that your pages are being visited by the right audience.
SEO will help you also in monetizing your website / blog. You might have placed advertisements or affiliate marketing links to have some additional revenues. SEO practices will optimize your pages and consequently more profitability can be expected from advertisements placements and affiliate marketing.
Should authors care about SEO even if they are using ready made platforms like Wordpress?
Definitely. Authors think that ready made Content Management Systems (CMS) like Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla and even free website builders like Wix and Weebly are advanced enough and should be adequately equipped to perform well on search engines. This statement is not fully true. The structure of these platforms is great and optimized from a technical perspective, yet, you will need to add some specialized plugins, add-ons and modules (the name varies depending on the platform) or do things by yourself to accomplish some of the required SEO optimizations. So yes, you will need to explore and read more about SEO and how to implement it on each platform.
Another question arises here, what about online book stores? If the author does not have a website or a blog and only uses online book stores such as: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, ... etc would SEO be still important or needed? The answer is Yes, all the way, but ... Luckily enough, large and specialized websites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others are already well established and rank well on search engines, however, your control over the website, its' structure and other technical aspects are very limited, but you can still implement some few SEO techniques to optimize your book page to rank even better. These techniques include providing richer book description, choosing the proper book genres and providing a good author's biography. So the answer is Yes, SEO applies here as well.
In Simpler Words
SEO means making sure that search engines find and index your webpages, and to optimize your content to rank higher on these search engines. It also means helping your targeted audience find what they are looking for (which is your website, your books, your writings and the content you offer).
In order to reach this goal, you will need to implement certain techniques. These techniques varies from content itself, to your page code (HTML) enhancements, to the way your website / blog communicates with search engines.
In the coming weeks we will continue to post about SEO basics and techniques to help you give your content the exposure it deserves and increasing the potential for selling more books.