I’ve been promising a post on SEO For Book Bloggers for quite a long time now, but haven’t exactly followed up on it until today.This is by no means exhaustive or the end-all, be-all, but should hopefully be a tiny bit helpful.
Why do I think I am qualified to write an SEO post?:
I am by no means an expert. I will be the first to admit that. However I have a google page rank of 5, and the vast majority of my traffic comes from search engines. And people ask me questions all the time about SEO. Of course, I learned from the best and want to share some of my knowledge.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization, the act of making your website optimized for search engines so that they can index it.
SERP – Search Engine Results Page – where your website shows up in search engines, basically you want to be #1 in the SERPS
Unique Hits – The number of unique people who visit your website
Page Views – How many times your page is viewed – i.e. I visit your site and then see you have some cool content linked in your sidebar and visit 3 of your other pages, in all you receive 4 page views. Page Views DO NOT EQUAL UNIQUE VISITS.
Keywords: The search words that people use to find your blog, what you want to rank in the SERPs for.
For this post I am specifically going to focus on the WordPress platform, because that is where I’ve found success and what I currently blog with. This isn’t to say you can’t have success doing SEO on a blogspot blog, I’ve just found with WordPress, you just plug your info into a plugin and you are good to go.
I know a lot of people have made the switch from Blogger to WordPress, which is great, but do not expect overnight SEO magic after switching. It won’t happen. SEO is something you should actively work at. By this I mean, when you switch over, you need to actually fill out meta tags and alt image tags. Spending a little time every day filling those boxes out is going to affect your search engine results positively.
Things That Affect Search Engine Results:
- Duplicate content –Let’s say you have your own blog, but also work on a collaborative blog. You post reviews to both your blog and your collab blog. Google will see that as duplicate content and downrank your page in the SERP.
- Keywords – Let’s say you want to rank for Book X by Author Z. But you only use the term Book X by Author Z once in your whole post. You won’t rank. So, instead of saying ‘the book’ or the author, write out the full keywords you want to rank for. Use the keywords in your header tags. Use the keywords in your title tags, meta description and meta tags.
- Your Coding – if your on-page HTML coding is bad, your site is going to be down ranked. You can get your coding checked here.
- Your Theme – sometimes your theme can play a part in search engine results. My theme, Thesis, is SEO Optimized right out of the box and I was able to google the best settings to maximize my SEO.
- Page Rank – the higher your page rank, the more Google indexes your pages, the higher you rank in SERP.
Tools To Help:
Google Webmaster Tools – Google Webmaster Tools has been a godsend for me. Basically you register on there, read the FAQ on how, and it will tell you: the keywords you rank for and your average position in the search engine, it will give you HTML suggestions for your metadata, ie if you have duplicate Meta Tags, if your Meta data is too short or too long. It’ll tell you if there are crawl errors. It’s a wonderful tool if you are looking to monitor your SEO. ALSO? It’s free.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool– Let’s say you take this keyword thing VERY seriously. One of the best ways to increase your SEO is to rank highly for keywords that have low competition but lots of monthly searches. If you type in a potential keyword, it’ll tell you the competition and also give you variations on the keyword. This tool is very helpful when writing reviews and also going back and updating old reviews.
Google Analytics – I probably sound like a google fan girl at this point, but friends they have a lot of great free tools that you should be using. I’m pretty sure Google Analytics is the MOST accurate free statistic measuring tool out there. It does not count spam visits like Blogger Stats. You can look at specific information about your visitors like how they got to your site, the search terms, country of origin. It will show you bounce rates. AND Google analytics has updated so there’s a whole slew of new information like social engagement, content, monetization, etc. However, you can’t see your real-time current day visits on Google analytics.
Sitemeter – Personally, I prefer sitemeter, but I know other people have success with Stat Counter. You can put sitemeter on your website and it’s a nice, easy way to measure your real time visits. I leave my sitemeter open so pubs can verify my traffic claims and know that I am not lying.Typically my sitemeter numbers correlate very closely with my Google Analytics numbers.
Yoast SEO Plug-In – Basically to get this you would go to plugins and then add a new plugin, look it up and add it in. I don’t use Yoast because it conflicts with Thesis. However, Allison At The Allure Of Books uses Yoast and it’s positively affected her on-page SEO. Basically Yoast gives you a checklist at the bottom of your posts and makes sure that your page is optimized for search engines and it tells you how to improve.
All In One SEO – Another plugin where you go to plugins and add a new plugin. This is the SEO plugin I used before I got Thesis. It allows you to fill in boxes for Meta Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords for each post which totally does affect your SERP. I personally use the on-page SEO included with my Thesis theme.
SEO Information Blogs/Blogs About Blogging:
One of the best things you can do to improve your blog is to educate yourself about the technical side of blogging. It’s really NOT THAT HARD. Look, if I can do it, any one can do it. There are so many great resource out there that put the technical bits into laymen’s terms.
Problogger – I have learned SO much about improving my blog technically and improving my SEO from reading Problogger religiously. I’ve also learned quite a bit about monetizing from Problogger.
Daily Blog Tips – This website is EXCELLENT for learning the technical side of blogging. I’ve learned how to decrease my bounce rate, how to optimize my blog and many, many more things for Daily Blog Tips. Also, check out the right sidebar for the most popular articles. There is a WEALTH of information there.
Copyblogger – A large part of SEO is writing for humans and not a search engine. Copyblogger is a site that aims to help people improve their writing and thus improve their search engine rankings through content marketing.
A Few Last Minute Tips And Suggestions That Have Worked FOR ME:
Always use alt-image tags. Search engine bots do crawl your images and the alt tags will tell the bots how to categorize your post, thus improving rankings.
Interlink – The more links you have coming into your posts, the better. I mean, I’m not saying join a linking scheme, that WILL BACKFIRE. However, you can always go back and interlink your old posts. Like whenever I review a series, I always go back to the older books in the series and generate links to the reviews of the newer books in the series.
Link To Other Bloggers – I saw a fantastic post on Problogger about outbound linking and why you should do it. Personally, I like to link to other reviews because it generates some traffic to my friends, adds a little bit to my bank of good karma (I need every little bit I can get), and plus because people sometimes reciprocate. ALSO, it helps give the reader a bigger picture of the book, to read other opinions and all.