We’re in the middle of a series on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for fiction authors. If you're just joining us, you can find previous installments here.
Previously, we said, “The better you can define who you are and what you offer, the better Google (and other search engines) will be able to provide your content to those who are looking for it.” Today we’re exploring how fiction authors can use a blog to boost SEO. (I’m talking about a blog integrated with your website, that is under your domain name.)
Boost Website SEO by Blogging
There are many benefits to blogging, but it’s important to approach this with a plan. Otherwise, you can produce content that is superfluous, rambling, confusing, or just downright annoying (you’ve read blogs like this, haven’t you?). To prevent this, create each blog post with your goal in mind – writing blog posts that help define who you are and what you offer.
Now that we know the goal, let's develop a strategy to get us there.
Here is a simple 5-step strategy for developing blog content.
Step 1: Write down your goal.
Really. Write it down and put it where you can see it when you’re working on your blog posts. It may look something like:
Write blog posts that clarify who I am and what I write so readers can find my books.
Remember, this is the goal of SEO, helping searchers find what they’re looking for. In this case, they’re looking for the kind of books you write.
Step 2: Define your offer.
This is simply a clarification of who you are and what you write. Don’t leave this unsaid. Don’t just think you know what you have to offer. Take time to define it. Clarifying this will help define your author brand, and thereby help you target your book marketing.
Try this template to help you define your offer:
I am a fiction author who writes (genre), usually in (setting). I tend to write on themes of ____________ and ____________. Readers often say they enjoy my ________________. I hope my readers __________________ when they read the stories I write.
Step 3: Brainstorm keywords based on the offer you’ve clarified.
Take some time to read and reread the statement you defined in Step 2. How would readers search for the kind of books you offer? Get a sheet of paper (maybe one without lines!) and write down as many keywords as you can. What would someone type into Google (or any other search engine) if they were looking for your books? How would they ask a friend? “Do you know any good books about __________?”
How would they describe what they like to read? “I love stories about __________ where ___________.”
Think of the different ways your books might be described.
What keywords should lead readers to you?
Brainstorm…no editing! Get these down on paper.
Step 4: Compile your keywords.
Once you’ve brainstormed your keywords, read through them to identify any broad categories. What you want to do here is take your scattered, brainstormy mess and compile it into an orderly list to help you generate ideas. If you’re having trouble fitting them into categories, don’t sweat it. The categories are merely to help you get a handle on all the information you’ve collected. If you prefer to compile them into a simple master list, go for it. Whatever works for you.
Step 5: Develop blog post ideas based on keywords.
Once you have a tidy keyword list, look at this for what it is. It’s not a complicated SEO techie thing. This is a map for how readers can find you. Your blog posts are the roads that will get them there. Your keyword list is like an interstate exit sign.
Headed for small town sweet inspy romance? Exit here…
Looking for a cozy mystery series with cats? Exit here…
There are two ways to get your exit sign posted on the great internet highway. You can buy an ad (paid), or you can create content (organic). We’re going to create organic content (by way of your blog) that signals your readers to “exit here” if you’re looking for ___________.
That blank can be filled in by each of your keywords. The best SEO practice is to fill in that blank with one keyword at a time. In other words, each blog post should focus on ONE keyword. Your sign on the highway must be clear and easy to read. Holding up a sign with 5 or 10 destinations might look like a cluttered mess. Your sign has ONE destination: inspirational romance, for instance. Write a blog post and get that sign up on the highway. Then, put up another signpost by writing another blog post focused on another keyword: small-town Southern fiction.
Note: You can use a keyword planning tool to help with this. These tools give you insight into how popular different search terms are and suggest related keywords. A good content strategy will target popular keywords and less popular, more specific keywords. This is an advanced topic we won't cover here. (While these tools can help, they aren't essential for what we're trying to achieve. Don't feel like you have to use them. You can develop a great content strategy without them.)